Relationships are complicated.
They’re a balancing act between being dependent on someone – loving, laughing, and caring for them – and being an independent human being.
Many fear that being independent in a relationship means you won’t be a good partner. But while being too self-absorbed can upset your partner, being too dependent on them can be just as detrimental to a healthy relationship.
Once again, it’s about finding a balance. So whether you are just starting out in your relationship, or you are in for the long-term, there are a number of things you can do to look out for player one, even when caring for your player two.
Separate bank accounts
Money shouldn’t be everything in a healthy relationship. But it’s an important factor that you need to consider, especially if you’re thinking long-term.
If you’re looking to live together, getting a joint bank account has many benefits. You can pay the bills, the rent, necessities, all from the same pot. And it has the added benefit of making you feel like a genuine adult couple.
However, you as an individual have your own needs and wants. A new notebook, a video game, make-up: these are things are for your personal self-care and development, but aren’t important enough to use the shared account for.
To ensure that you have financial stability on your own, have a separate bank account that only you can access. Not only will this empower you to have your own spending money, without having to dip into the house funds, but if an unforseen break-up occurs, you’ll have a small financial pot to fall back on.
No is a powerful word
There will be times when your partner will want you to do something that you don’t want to do. Either you are too busy, or stressed, or perhaps the thing itself is something that makes you uncomfortable. But we back down, believing that saying no will make them upset. We make excuses, forgive them, convince ourselves to do it.
Agreeing to chores, even when you really don’t want to, is fine now and then. But by never drawing a line in the sand, you not only give away your independence, but you are also misleading them. By refusing to say that you’re uncomfortable with their actions or behaviour, they will not know how you feel. By always doing the dishes, then they will always leave the dirty plates by the sink.
No is a powerful word. Use it and let your partner know how you feel. Let them know that you’re an individual with your own thoughts and feelings. And you remind yourself about that fact as well.
Schedule in me-time
Five minutes in the bath-tub. A bus ride. Reading a book. Just a small moment alone reminds you to get acquainted with yourself. It reminds you that you are not just half of a single unit, but a full person in and of yourself.
Constantly being around your partner – around anyone, in fact – can become an exhausting situation. It can make you forget about yourself, and all of the good things that you can achieve without your significant other.
Don’t be afraid to sound selfish. Either, switch off your phone and spend some time to yourself. Or, if you live together, explain to your partner that you need half an hour wrapped up in a blanket, alone in your room, watching the latest episode of Gossip Girl on Netflix. If they love you, they’ll understand the need to love yourself.
Keep a diary
We all say things we regret. Little things that our partners do to wind us up, chores that have been neglected, or simply everyday stress that gets stuck in our head. Having your own place to write down your feelings, such as a diary, is a small and significant step to independence in a relationship.
Not only does it give you the space to process your emotions, but also takes the pressure off your significant other to be your constant stress-reliever. In order to stay independent in a relationship, you need the strength to take care of yourself first and foremost. And so a diary, a quiet five minutes, and a deep breath, might just be the start you need to feel independent, and for your relationship to stay in tip-top shape.