State of Independence

Keeping some space and time for yourself when in love isn’t just essential to your well-being. It might save your relationship.

Just Can’t Get Enough
Feeling ‘at one’ with your partner is one of the defining moments in a relationship. When the first bloom of new love takes hold, we feel an almost irresistible urge to spend every moment together. This powerful sensation is part of the chemistry of falling in love and essential to our bonding with a new mate. But this level of intense, all-consuming contact cannot — and in all likelihood, should not — be sustained.

Spaces in your Togetherness
In order for love to deepen and strengthen — and have a chance at lasting — we all need to maintain interests, goals and passions of our own that are totally separate from our romantic relationship. In 1923, poet Kahlil Gibran penned The Prophet, a book of poetic essays that deal with love, marriage and life in general. In it, he writes, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” It’s no wonder that his words are commonly incorporated into modern wedding ceremonies — I’ve heard his poems read at three weddings in the past 12 months.

Keep your Friends
My friend Mel goes AWOL every time she meets a new guy, then pops back up on my radar whenever she’s single again, acting like nothing has happened. It’s incredibly frustrating — and if it happens one more time, I’m not sure I’ll be able to force a smile and welcome her back into the fold. Mel is the perfect example of a person who doesn’t keep their existing friendships alive when love comes to town, preferring to dedicate her whole being to the relationship. And while she’s wrapped up in the charms and seductions of her new romance, she’s seemingly unaware that this full-on, 100 per cent intimate involvement might just be the reason her relationships never last…

Do Things for Yourself
It’s easy to become reliant on the one you love, especially when they do nice things for you like picking you up after work, for example. But taking their generosity and gestures for granted is not only bad for your relationship, it’s bad for you too. Guys, if you ironed your own shirts before you met your lady, there’s no reason to stop just because there’s a lady in your life. Girls, meeting the man of your dreams shouldn’t spell the end of all those wonderful, empowering things you did as a single. You don’t really need him to drive you everywhere, do you?

Remember Yourself
Don’t forget to keep your own passions alive. Many people let their independent interests fade away when in a new relationship — only to find they feel trapped and bored when the relationship plateaus. Sustaining yourself by maintaining your own interests and pastimes is vital to your health and well-being. Nurturing your own special interests is also a great way to ensure that a loving relationship remains fresh and dynamic.

Speak for Yourself
Often couples become so enmeshed in each other’s lives that they finish each other’s sentences or speak on behalf of the other. When doing stuff without your partner, try to use the word “I’ instead of “we” and refer to what you think and feel as an individual rather than as part of a couple. Also, if your partner has offered an opinion on your behalf (“Jill and I think the earth is flat”) and you don’t agree with what’s been attributed to you, make sure you speak up. “Well, Jack thinks the earth is flat, but I’m not so sure.”

Take a Break
Spending all your time with just one other person creates a vacuum that can become socially isolating. Time away — whether it’s an afternoon, overnight or a whole weekend — gives you a fresh perspective on your relationship and allows you some ‘me’ time to attend to your own needs without constantly thinking what your mate thinks and feels. A little bit selfish, yes, but absolutely essential to preserving your independence in a relationship.

Take the Lead
Don’t miss out on doing the things you like because your partner doesn’t like them. My friend Thomas loves fiery curries but his girlfriend Nic can’t stand spicy food. So Thomas doesn’t eat curries anymore. A shame really, because why should he miss out on something he enjoys simply because his partner doesn’t fancy it? He shouldn’t. It’s a part of who he is, and he needs to be able to indulge in it now and then. Thomas! Assert your independence today! Tell Nic, “I know you don’t like curry, but I’d really love one and so I’m going out one night this week to treat myself.” Bon appetit!

It’s easy to be seduced by the can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you / don’t-want-to-spend-a-second-without-you phase of a new relationship. But when you’ve found ‘The One’ don’t forget the ‘Other One’ — you.

Article courtesy of Click by Lavalife.

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