It is common to speak of finding a partner as finding your “missing piece” or “soul mate.” But while relationships can be very fulfilling, thinking of them as something that makes you whole is more often detrimental to the relationship. This way of thought makes you dependent on your partner to meet all of your emotional, social, and mental needs.
This dependency can be unattractive to your partner, showing up as neediness and lack of confidence. It makes a person appear less “interesting,” and often leads to stress as well since it creates unrealistic expectations for what you demand from your partner, leaving them constantly falling short through no fault of their own. Then if the relationship does end, your dependency can leave you feeling lost and make it difficult to focus on your individuality once more.
Keeping Your Individualism in a Relationship
The ideal way to prevent yourself from becoming dependent on a partner, whether you are entering into a new relationship or already in a long term one, is to focus doing things that make you happy and maintaining your individuality when you:
- Be Your Authentic Self – It is easy to fall into the trap of deferring to your partner or adopting traits to make them happier. But when these are not what you would have chosen for yourself, they can lead to you becoming defined and dependent on your relationship.
- Maintain Existing Interests – Continue to do all of the activities you enjoyed before you entered the relationship and try new ones as the interest arises. You can participate in some with your partner if they have an interest, but keep a few that are just something you like to do.
- Keep Up Friendships – Regularly visit with friends and family without bringing your partner along. This keeps these relationships strong and gives you a place to turn for emotional support outside of your relationship.
- Try Things on Your Own – If an experience or adventure comes up that is not in line with your partner’s interests, arrange to go on your own or with other friends. Not all experiences need to be had with your partner.
- Take Time for Mindfulness – Losing yourself in a relationship is relatively simple to do even if you are normally an independent person. When you make time for introspection, you can rationally consider your thoughts, emotions, and desires to determine where in your relationship you might need more independence.
As you are pursuing your own independence within your relationship, you will want to give your partner the space and support to do the same. The individual experiences you both experience outside of your relationship can foster self-confidence, growth, and healthy communication in your relationship that works to make the bond between you stronger.