Being in a relationship with someone you love is awesome, but if you’re not careful, you might end up losing yourself. It’s wonderful to be happy with your partner, but make sure you’re taking these steps to make sure you don’t lose your independence in the process:
Never make decisions for each other. If you’re together long enough or if your connection is deep enough, you’ll come to the point where you can make a decision for your partner while feeling reasonably assured that it’s the right one. Your partner can probably do the same for you. But should you? It’s going to happen occasionally, but it shouldn’t become the rule. It reinforces the idea that you’re the same person, plus it’s just rude to rope someone into something without asking them first.
Don’t answer for each other. This, too, makes it seem like you’re not two individuals — you’re just Super Couple. It sends a message to the people you hang out with as well — even if they don’t mean to be rude or disrespectful, they soon ask you questions about your partner as if asking you is the same thing as asking the person you’re with. I mean, yeah, it’s kind of sweet if you’re with someone who knows you well enough to speak for you, but also, no. Just no.
Never lose yourself in the other person. This is surprisingly hard sometimes. Especially in the early days, when you’re all tangled up in your feelings and infatuated with each other, it’s easy to lose yourself in this new whirlwind. You’re surrounded by each other, and you spend all your time either hanging out with or talking to each other. Eventually, it’s hard to figure out where you end and your lover begins. Lose yourself in intimate moments, not in the rest of your life.
Maintain separate interests and hobbies. Under no circumstances should you ever pretend to like something just because your partner does. Never fake an interest to impress someone else. Cultivate your own likes and dislikes. If you have things in common, do those activities together, but leave room for each of you to explore your passions.
Make it a priority to hang out with your friends. Let’s add to that: make it a priority to hang out with your friends SEPARATELY. It’s easier to merge into a Couple Monster if all of your friends are mutual friends you never see individually. You’re also more likely to lose yourself in a partner if you stop spending time with the people who center you.
Shape your future around yourself, not your partner. Obviously, your future involves your partner — if you’re serious, at least — but that doesn’t mean that you need to structure your entire future around them. Make decisions together and don’t forget to compromise, but don’t give up the things you want just to follow along. That’s when you stop standing out as your own person.
Savor some experiences without your significant other. Go on adventures with your friends or by yourself. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, although more power to you if you want to do that. Take yourself out to a movie once in a while. Plan a road trip with your best buddies. Visit another country. Learn a new skill. Just leave your partner to their own devices while you savor these fresh new experiences.
Have conversations with someone other than bae. You have to talk to someone other than you partner. Seriously, you’ll go insane if you don’t regularly have meaningful conversations with other people. Not only will the two of you start to finish each other’s sentences, but at this point, you’ll probably start to look alike, too.
Don’t look to your partner for fulfillment or completion. I know that’s the idyllic version of true love, but there’s nothing ideal about it. Rely on someone else to fulfill you and you’ll be f*cked if they ever leave. Walk around feeling incomplete without another person, and you’re headed down the road toward co-dependency. Your partner can absolutely fulfill certain parts of your heart, your mind, and your life, but you need to feel complete on your own.
Create healthy boundaries around yourselves. Talk about why you want to take time away from each other, explore different interests, and maintain your separate identities. You don’t want any misunderstandings between you, and you don’t want your lover to think that you never want to spend time together. You just want to stay true to yourself, as yourself.
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