Tips for Retaining Healthy Independence

Tips for Retaining Healthy Independence

While we're in the mood to celebrate our country's independence this month, we might as well look at how well we're maintaining independence in our relationships! It's one thing to develop a deeper attachment to that special someone when you've been dating for a long time (or not that long at all for some of us hotter-headed lovebirds), but you're crossing a dangerous line when your whole life starts to revolve around the guy or girl you're dating.

Keep in mind that liking who you are as person is one of the prerequisites for being in a healthy relationship, so losing yourself by prioritizing your partner's schedule, friends, views, and pride will only stunt growth for both of you. Luckily, we've got some tips to share on striking that perfect balance of commitment and independence!

1. Devote time to hobbies and interests that don't involve your partner.

Shared interests is overrated - it's great when you and your significant other enjoy activities together, but your bond should be based on mutual respect and sharing of core values, not whether or not you play the same video games. Keep doing all the things you love whether its ice skating, rock climbing, biking, or reading romantic novels, and don't expect your partner to necessarily partake in the same hobbies (and vice versa). Discover and develop new interests, and don't be afraid to pursue those either. Want to try scuba diving, but the person you're dating doesn't like getting wet? It's okay - remember that you guys don't need to experience everything together! As long as you're supportive of your partner's interests, you are more than free to have and enjoy your own.

2. Nurture your friendships by giving your time and heart.

Good friendships are invaluable and necessary for a healthy soul. Your friends help you to keep a clear perspective on things, have seen and stood by you through the dramatic ups and downs of life, and are a part of who you are - don't neglect them. Make plans for quality time with your friends regularly, and by "quality time" we mean you're not just talking about your new relationship the whole time or texting your significant other every few minutes. Actually set aside a time and space for just you and your best friends, and enjoy the relationship you guys share. Of course if your partner gets along with your friends and they like each other, that's wonderful - you should make the effort to get to know your partner's friends as well. However, it's important and healthy to spend time away from the person you're dating, so plan those separate friend gatherings accordingly.

3. Remember why you take a particular stance on an issue or topic, and hold onto to your values.

It's okay to disagree on things. A good, healthy debate not only makes for interesting conversation but can also increase your understanding of each other (thereby strengthening your relationship) and your general knowledge about the world. If you are always agreeing with everything your significant other says, in order to please him or her or make him or her think you are "nice," your relationship is not healthy, balanced, or mature. An ideal relationship is when you and your partner can have engaging discussion, stay openminded towards each other's differing viewpoints, and yet remain grounded in the core values and beliefs that define you two as individuals.

4. Accept your achievements and continue striving for higher goals.

You shouldn't be worrying about hurting your partner's pride every time you get a promotion. In a healthy relationship, both parties are supportive and encouraging of each other's personal growth. Your career is your own, your opportunities are your own, and in the end your life is your own. If you are with someone who is trying to hold you back, you are not giving your heart to someone who truly cares about you. Make it known that your partner's self-esteem and self-worth should not depend in any way on your level of success. Be each other's cheerleaders, and never stop striving to reach your own potential!

5. Don't let your relationship determine your mood entirely.

No relationship is perfect, and at some point you are going to fight or go through a rough patch with your partner. However, your life should not revolve around your relationship, and your mood shouldn't either. Did your date just cancel on you via a mysteriously brusque text message? Did you just get off the phone after a nasty argument about your partner's priorities? Develop the mentality that your dating life constitutes only a portion of your whole life, and don't let that portion overrun its boundaries and affect your work or relationships with others. You will be better-equipped to navigate your way through the struggles and complexities of dating if you maintain a healthy level of independence throughout it.