At the start of a relationship, it’s not uncommon for a couple to be practically inseparable. You spend almost all of your free time together. You share everything, do everything together and revel in the closeness. Yet, as a relationship evolves, it can be hard to see where you end and your partner begins. You may be two halves of a committed couple, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose your independence and identity. When you do, it can put a serious strain on the relationship.
Losing our sense of self in a relationship can lead to anxiety, rebelliousness and resentment. You may start to long for your independence so badly that you resort to extremes, acting like the most exaggerated (and usually unpleasant) version of your former self.
It is possible to merge your lives together without losing yourselves. A solid relationship is made up of two whole people who focus on their own well-being and growth as much as they focus on each other. If you feel like you’ve lost sight of who you once were, here’s how you can reaffirm your relationship independence:
START BY LOVING YOURSELF
Are you the sort of person who puts the needs of your loved ones in front of your own? Every family needs a caregiver but not at the cost of your own wellness. You can’t give from an empty cup so make sure yours is always full by focusing on your self-care and self-love. The relationship you have with yourself is just as important as the relationship you have with your partner. Treating yourself well — like eating right, getting enough sleep, and having the occasional pampering session — is good for the both of you. It’s also good to get yourself to a place where you feel worthy of the love you have so you don’t have to fear being your whole, genuine self with your partner. Make self-care, self-love and self-compassion a top priority.
SPEND TIME APART
Everyone needs some alone time. If you seek out solitude, it doesn’t mean you want to get away from your partner or you have something to hide. It’s simply an opportunity to recharge, reflect and enjoy your own company. Just as much as it’s good for couples to have shared activities, it’s also healthy for couples to have their own independent interests or hobbies. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to leave the things you love to do behind, nor does it stop you from discovering new things you enjoy. Being able to bring these solo experiences back to the relationships keeps things fresh!
FOCUS ON YOUR OTHER RELATIONSHIPS
Even if your partner seems like the most important person in your life, chances are they aren’t the only person you’ve got. Sometimes our friends and family fall by the wayside when we’re in love but those relationships need to be nurtured too. Make an effort to spend time with everyone in your life who matters to you. Not only is this support system good for you, it also takes some of the stress off the relationship. Only having each other to talk to and confide it can burn you both out.
DON’T FORGET YOUR GOALS
Think about your life before this relationship. Was true love the only thing you were looking for or did you have other goals in mind? You shouldn’t have to abandon your dreams just because you are part of a couple. You should both encourage each other’s growth and independence. Go out of your way to have the occasional audit with yourself — are you were you want to be in life or is there something you’ve always longed for? Don’t be content with discontentment. If you’re unhappy with yourself or the relationship, make a change!