When you fall in love with somebody, you think about them all the time. It’s natural to want to spend every waking moment with them and behave in ways that please them. However, if you want your union to last, you need to maintain your individuality and independence — and respect the individuality of the other person too.
Look at how best to respect individuality in your unique relationship
Every couple has a different level of comfort when it comes to some things. Some partners have no problem talking to their mate in the bathroom, while others consider that way too much togetherness. As long as you communicate openly and keep your eye on why you fell for your beloved in the first place, you can grow closer together while maintaining a healthy degree of separation.
Cultivate individual interests
What is your passion? An equally critical question — what makes your partner tick? If you were a yoga addict before you formed your union but haven’t seen a mat since, why? It’s one thing to miss the occasional class for date night, but you shouldn’t deny yourself needed self-care to tend to your mate’s needs. Nor should you demand they give up their hobbies for you.
The chances are that one of the things that drew you to your partner was your shared interests. However, that doesn’t mean sacrificing your solo joys. If you can’t stand video games but you love to knit, whip out that afghan when your beloved spends the afternoon playing “Final Fantasy.”
Learn the warning signs of codependency
Codependency often occurs when your partner struggles with drug or alcohol addiction. However, you risk this unhealthy relationship dynamic any time you start to gain a sense of satisfaction from being needed by your significant other. Learning the warning signs can help you avoid falling into this trap:
- Difficulty telling where you end and your partner begins: You may struggle to identify how you feel without your partner’s feedback. When they are happy, you smile, and when they have a rough day, you catch their low mood.
- Sacrificing your needs for your partner: Every relationship involves give-and-take. It’s one thing to temporarily take on a second job to cover the bills if your partner loses theirs. However, if they’re capable of working and months pass with you grinding your hardest while they laze on the couch, you need to express your frustration. If you hesitate to mention your needs, that’s a big red flag.
- Basing your self-worth on their approval: You might be the most talented artist in the world. However, if you feel like a failure every time your partner doesn’t gush over your latest design, ask yourself why your sense of success hinges on their recognition.
Create a sacred space
This advice applies primarily to couples who cohabitate. Even if you decide to tie the knot or buy a home together, you must each have a space that you can fill with the things that delight you.
Maybe you and your partner each have a home office, or you have a she-shed while he transforms the garage into a man-cave. If you share a studio, you might create a tiny yoga retreat separated by a folding screen. No matter the size of your home, you can find room for their Matchbox collection and your sewing basket.
Respect individuality by valuing each other’s privacy
Do you find yourself sneaking a peek at your partner’s text messages when they get up to use the restroom? Please stop such behavior immediately. If you feel the need to check their phone or computer, it indicates a breakdown of trust in your relationship.
What are you hoping to discover, anyway? If your partner did or said something to make you question their commitment, discussing it when you both feel calm will get you better answers than sneaking around on their devices. If you can’t take your mate at their word, why are you together?
Maintain outside friendships
Finally, it’s natural that your friendship circle will start to meld with your partner’s the longer you stay together. However, it’s also crucial that you have an outside confidante.
Keep planning your girls’ nights, and let your significant other enjoy their Friday poker circle. You can do date night on Saturday, and a brief absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Respect the individuality of your partner as your relationship deepens
Every relationship is different, but one thing holds true in any partnership — you need to respect each other’s individuality. You fell in love because you liked the person your partner was before you became an item. Celebrate the things that make you each unique!
About today’s writer
Kate is a lifestyle and wellness journalist from Pennsylvania. She particularly enjoys writing about topics related to women’s health and well-being. If you like her work, you can subscribe to her blog, So Well, So Woman.