How to Maintain Your Independence Within a Relationship

  1. Time with Your Partner As a Choice

When you’re able to live your own life, your partner becomes a complement to your life rather than your entire world.  This means that every time you’re spending time with your partner, it is a conscious decision, not an obligation.

When you lack your own autonomy, the time spent with your partner is partially due to needing someone else to validate your existence.  They become fuel for you to live your life, and they’re treated like one of life’s essentials like food or water — even though they’re not.

Assigning your partner as a lifesaver can easily make them feel like if they don’t spend time with you, you’ll be inconsolably sad, so instead of being with you because they want to, they’ll be with you because they’re afraid of what would happen to you if they weren’t there with you.  And over time, this type of relationship will breed resentment because you are making them stay with you out of guilt, not love.

Conversely, I discovered how loving it can actually be when my partner and I are in separate rooms living our own lives.

She’s on the computer.  I’m watching Netflix.  We’re within each other’s proximity, but we need some alone time, and we trust each other enough to know that we’ll come together.

We’re secure enough to realize that the other person isn’t going to leave the relationship just because we spend some time apart.

And when we’re with each other, we know that our time together is special because we chose to be with one another without guilt, emotional manipulation, and obligation.

  1.  Maintain Your Individual Identities

Losing yourself in someone else can happen very quickly.

If I’m out somewhere without my girlfriend, people will always ask me where she is.  On a subconscious level, many people perceive us as one person, meaning that they don’t think we exist without the other.  Not only can one fall into the trap of losing one’s identity in a relationship, but society’s perceptions of relationships pushes this idea forward: that you are not a person without your partner.

But this mentality is destructive for one’s well-being.  If my identity becomes simply being someone’s partner, what happens when they’re not around?  What happens to my own thoughts and ideas?  How do I live by myself if I don’t know who I am without someone else?

By maintaining our own separate identities, we’ve created a beautiful relationship where we’re happy on our own but even happier when we’re together.  This is much more preferable than the alternative, which is being miserable by ourselves and treating the other person like a life-jacket because you’re drowning.

More importantly, when you find someone who accepts you for who you are, you can be yourself with the person you love the most, and there’s no feeling that’s more fulfilling.

You’re with someone who helps you become the best version of yourself, and hopefully, you can do the same for them.

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There’s nothing wrong with being affectionate, lovey-dovey, and occasionally needy.  That’s human.  That happens to everyone.  But those instances should be exceptions.  You should never lose yourself in someone else. Always be able to be you.

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How to Maintain Your Independence Within a Relationship

About The Author
- Robin Tran is a standup comedian, writer, and spent most of her life living as Robert Tran. Robin graduated from UCI with an English degree after her friends and family told her to quit being a theater major because they felt that her dreams were unrealistic. In 2012, Robin began her standup comedy career (as Robert Tran) and has won several standup comedy competitions including the Westside Bar & Grill Contest in 2012 and Uncle Clyde's Comedy Contest at Flappers in Burbank. In February 2015, Robin came out as transgender and has spent several months writing about her firsthand experiences. She has also appeared on the “Racewars” podcast with Kurt Metzger and Sherrod Small to debate about the philosophies of comedy and got to say hi to Ann Coulter in the process.