I’m a woman who absolutely LOVES being in a relationship. There’s something about being in love and being coupled up that makes me feel alive. Admittedly, while I think of myself, as a strong and independent woman, I’ve definitely lost my sense of independence in my relationships before and I didn’t want to do it anymore. Here are some things that worked for me that you could try too if you find yourself in a similar position.
Carve out precious me-time every single day. Even though it’s understandable that you want to spend most of your waking moments with your partner, it’s really important that you don’t. In the past, I got so caught up in planning my free time around my boyfriends that I hardly had time for myself and then I lost myself. Then, when our relationship didn’t work out I felt really broken partially because I hadn’t saved much time for me. In my current relationship, I strive never to feel that way again and I make sure that every single day is filled with some time to myself. Whether that means working out, taking a walk, having lunch alone, taking a bath, or indulging in your favorite television show, make sure you do it and don’t give that time up.
Try not to constantly text your partner all day long. This is a big one! A woman who loves being in a relationship also loves to constantly and incessantly communicate with her partner. If this is you, you know I’m right! Not only is it a major distraction from your day, but it can be really annoying for your significant other. If you live with your partner or even spend a lot of your free time with them, try to limit how much you communicate with them when you’re not together. You’ll have more to talk about because you won’t have been live texting your entire day, you’ll probably be more productive at work, and you’ll actually miss them. Live your own life when you’re not with your partner. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them any less if you don’t communicate for five hours.
Be more deliberate about staying in touch with your girlfriends. In the past, I’ve been guilty of loving being in a relationship so much that I basically go MIA on my girlfriends and neglect our relationships. I had to learn the hard way after I broke up with a guy and my best friends reluctantly put me back together again. They were there for me but justifiably hurt that I kind of neglected them too.
Hang out with your friends without your partner. Similarly, it’s okay to just go out with your friends or even to have separate nights where you do different things! I know how it feels to want to bring your partner to every party, every night out, and every Instagrammable event, especially at the beginning of your relationship. But after a while, it gets annoying for your friends and the truth is you probably need that night out by yourself.
If you don’t live with your partner yet, spend a few nights of the week alone. I’ve made the mistake of spending every single night of the week with my partner too, so you’re not alone! As much as you want to spend every waking moment with them, don’t do it – especially if you don’t live together. When you start making a routine of it, you start to spend less time with your friends, less time on yourself, and before you know it your whole life revolves around your partner.
If you do live with your partner, try to make space in your place just for you. If you and your significant other live in a one-bedroom or even a studio apartment, I know this can be a challenge. However, I think there are ways to infuse your personality into a shared space so you don’t feel like you’ve lost your sense of self. If you love baths, make your bathroom a retreat for yourself. If you love reading, buy a good reading chair and create a nook where you can get lost in someone else’s story. The point is there are ways to maintain your own person within a relationship you just have to find them.
Enjoy some mealtimes alone. I used to hate dining out alone, especially when I was in a relationship. Then I went through a rough heartbreak and had to fall in love with myself all over again. I started a practice of dining alone and it really taught me a lot about confidence and self-esteem because when you’re dining alone in a crowded restaurant, you totally get some stares. Even now in my current relationship, I continue this practice. Sometimes even if my boyfriend is hanging at my place for the weekend, I’ll head out to get breakfast or dinner alone just to carve the time out for myself.
Nurture your own interests and hobbies outside of your relationship. It’s really easy to stop doing the things you love when you get into a relationship because you start to do everything with your partner. Honestly, that’s not cute. It’s easy to Netflix and chill all day with your partner, but if you stop painting or dancing or going to the gym or blogging or whatever it is that you love to do because of your relationship, you’re only doing a disservice to yourself. No one said you have to like everything your partner does. Be your own person and don’t give into relationship groupthink.
Consider taking a solo vacation. As a girl who loves being coupled up, I didn’t really understand the purpose of a solo vacation. After all, aren’t vacations all about making memories with someone else? Sometimes but not always! My first solo vacation forced me to rely only on myself. It was daunting but it helped me carve out a sense of independence that I really needed.
Remember that taking time for you will strengthen your connection. Absence does make the heart grow fonder! And like plants, nothing will grow if it is suffocated, isn’t watered, and gets no sunlight. A relationship is made up of independent individuals and in order for the relationship to grow the individuals within it have to make their own moves. Do that for yourself, you’ll be grateful you did.