I’m about to do something I never thought I’d publicly do…and that is share relationship advice. You see, I used to be really terrible at relationships. Like, reeeeeally terrible. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that after many years I’ve finally (thank god) come to realize what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.
Achieving a healthy relationship shouldn’t be a constant battle, and it should never feel like you’re trying to win a game or solve a mystery when it comes to your partner. It should be simple, easy, and fun. I’ve seen one too many friends get dragged down by shitty relationships, and it always shocks me how far they will go down the rabbit hole before figuring out they deserve better. (I’ll also admit I’ve had a bit of personal experience with this as well)
Shitty relationships are shitty for a lot of reasons, but mostly because they cause someone’s happiness to become dependent on their partner.
In this common scenario…everything a person does and every decision they make revolves around their partner. They ditch their friends. They lose interest in things they once loved because it doesn’t appeal to their partner. They worry about what their partner will think of everything they do, say, or post about.
They spend every waking moment doing one of, a combination of, or all of the following:
a) with their partner
b) talking to their partner
c) thinking about when their partner is going to talk to them next
d) worried about what their partner is doing or thinking / fighting with their partner
Sound familiar? I thought it might.
When we get ourselves get into situations like this, it robs us of all those special intricacies that make us who we are. We alienate ourselves, and our whole world revolves around our significant other. We lose focus on what we are truly passionate about. We forget that rather than one unit, we are simply two separate people that enjoy each other’s company and go through life together. We may be “better together,” but we are not incomplete if apart.
Keeping your independence in a serious relationship may seem like a difficult task. It’s definitely something to have to stay conscious of and work for. However, it’s 100% achievable and 100% necessary for both your sanity and the survival of your relationship.
You never want to become so engrained in your partner that you lose sight of who you are as a person and what your hopes, wants, and dreams are. Because guess what? Theirs will not always exactly mimic your own, and THAT’S OKAY.
If they’re a good partner, they’ll be supportive of your ambitions and push you to succeed. They’ll want you to go and hang out with your girlfriends instead of spending every night with them. They’ll challenge you to be better, work harder, and go have all of those life experiences you dream about.
Those people really exist, guys. I promise. Not everyone wants to control you and be attached at the hip and have the same friend group and make decisions on your behalf and etc. etc. etc.
I would love to tell you how wonderful my boyfriend is and how we’ve managed to remain two independent people who share a life together, but I won’t…because I can’t bring myself to post sappy shit about him on my blog…and because he’d probably kill me :)
So, what I WILL do is suggest ways that YOU can maintain YOUR independence while in a serious relationship. It’s the greatest feeling in the world and it’s something I hope everyone gets to experience in their lifetime.
1. Be Okay With The Silence.
It is very likely in a serious relationship that you either a) live together or b) basically live together. This means that you typically see and spend time with each other every day, which is not a bad thing (I’d be so sad if I didn’t get my daily hug from Albert!), but it does mean that you will be around each other when you actually need to get real-life stuff done/be productive. With that said, you need to be okay with spending time together…yet not really spending time together. For example, being okay with the fact that they’re not paying attention to you because they're busy with something, and vice versa. You should be able to sit in the same room, doing different tasks, and not feel neglected or like you need to fill the silence.
2. Have Alone Time.
Spending time by yourself is so important! Don’t be upset if your partner needs some alone time, and don’t feel bad if you want some too. It doesn’t mean you don’t like each other, it means you’re both human.
3. Find Activities You Can Do Together, but Also Have Hobbies of Your Own.
Having common interests is great! It’s always nice to able to go out and do activities with your partner that you both enjoy. However, don’t freak out if you like things that are completely opposite from your partner because you think that means you’re not compatible or don’t have enough in common. It really doesn’t. In fact, you should absolutely have some separate interests! It gives each person the opportunity to share new things with their partner and support them in their endeavors. Albert is a video game playing, car fanatic, computer scientist who thinks social media is stupid (I know - how dare he?!)…and I’m a yoga teacher, luxury real estate PR coordinator, writer/blogger who is highly active on social media - how much more different can you get?
And it’s been working out pretty great for the past 4 years :) Why? Because we have so many other things to do together that we BOTH love! And because we support each other 100% in all of our differing hobbies.
4. Go to Girls’ Night!
DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR FRIENDS! Good girlfriends are so hard to come by in your 20s, and we should cherish each and every one of ours! Make it a priority to see your friends at least once a week (I know it’s hard while adulting…just try!) My closest friends all live together while I live with my boyfriend, and I do! Also, girls’ night doesn’t always have to mean little black dresses, sexy heels, and stiff cocktails if that’s not your style. Sometimes my friends and I get together while wearing sweatpants and do a potluck on a weeknight to catch up. The important thing is to just make it happen :)
5. Value Their Opinion, But Ultimately Make Decisions For Yourself.
I ask Albert’s opinion on everything, because I truly value what he has to say and because I know he has my best interest in mind…but in the end I also always choose what I feel is best for me. Don’t let your partner heavily influence your decisions to the point that they are essentially deciding everything for you. HAVE YOUR OWN VOICE, AND SPEAK UP!
6. Don’t Be Passive Aggressive - Have Adult Conversations.
I don’t think there’s anything more irritating than trying to figure out if/why someone is upset/mad because of their behavior towards you. I imagine many of you feel the same. So, rather than getting all sulky or trying to make your partner figure out what they did wrong…why not just talk to them about it? Now, there’s a brilliant idea. Not only will this keep you in control of your emotions and lower your anxiety levels, but it will also make your relationship so much stronger because you’re not playing guessing games or bitching at each other all the time. If you don’t like something? Say it. Would you prefer another date night option? Let them know. Are their friends being annoying as hell? State your opinion, friend.
Here’s to being fabulous, independent, badasses with amazing relationships!
images from www.shutterstock.com, www.theearthchild.co.za, www.rd.com
I created this blog to help inspire people to become the most authentic and empowered versions of themselves - a space where personal experiences, tips, and tidbits guide others to live strong, grounded, and powerful lives.