Most of us have seen it before, the couple attached at the hip, completely dependent on each other, and always doing absolutely everything together. I call them ‘you-complete-me’ couples because essentially one or both partners feel as though they could never do or be anything without the other.
I’ve been there before, and have witnessed my fair share of ‘you-complete-me’ relationships. While my personal experience took place when I was 16 years old, and still discovering a lot about myself and what I wanted, many people continue this type of relationship far into their adult lives.
What’s it like to be in a ‘you-complete-me’ relationship?
I can think of two people close to me that have entirely unhealthy ‘you-complete-me’ relationships. The first is my sister and her boyfriend. They met in high school, attended the same university, studied in the same program, worked the same internship, and to this day continue to have all of the same friends, hobbies, interests and goals.
My sister and her boyfriend literally don’t do anything without the other in tow. This is definitely an unhealthy relationship as it doesn’t offer either of them the chance to grow individually. It’s also extremely annoying to watch every single decision my sister makes revolve around her boyfriend. And I’m not just talking about big life decisions such as where to live and possible career options. I’m talking about basic every day decisions such as going out for dinner, or taking a vacation with family or friends. [Read: 13 sure signs you’re being the dreaded clingy girlfriend]
The second ‘you-complete-me’ relationship that I have to deal with on a daily basis is one of my best friends. She and her boyfriend live together, work together, and generally do everything together. While I also enjoy spending time with my boyfriend and cherish the time we have together during our monstrously busy schedules, I don’t find it necessary to do absolutely every single thing with him.
I know they’re in love, and it’s a wonderful thing to have your partner at your side. But this obsession with her boyfriend is becoming increasingly destructive to our friendship. I’ve tried several attempts to detach them and get some quality girl time!
I’ve tried suggesting a girl’s day out for manicures and something to eat. But, not only did she propose that her boyfriend could meet us for lunch, she even hinted that his hands could use some help. I didn’t care if he had disgusting callouses all over his body, I just wanted an afternoon with my friend to talk about whatever we wanted, and not be censored by her boyfriend’s presence. After numerous other invitations, all which were followed with “sure, I’ll see what Sam is doing first”, or “yeah, that’d be great. We’d love to come” I started to give up on ever getting time with her alone. [Read: 9 ways to stop being needy and insecure]
Why do they have these relationships?
One of the central causes of these ‘you-complete-me’ couples is insecurity and unhappiness in oneself, in the relationship, or both. To start increasing the feeling of security and your happiness, it’s important that each part feels sure of their individualities.
One way to overcome these ‘you-complete-me’ relationships is to find a balance of space as a couple. Space as in the time you spend without your partner attached at your hip. Space in a relationship is essential in allowing a person to learn and grow as an individual, and motivate each partner to nurture and establish his or her own identity.
How can you have space in a relationship without getting lonely?
Though you may think spending some time without your significant other will turn you into a lonely mess, you’d be surprised at how much healthier your relationship can be when you spend a little time apart. Here are ways you can do that.
#1 First you need to learn to love yourself and enjoy your own company. Having time with and for yourself is essential to recuperate and be able to offer 100% of yourself, whether in your intimate relationship, at work or with your family and friends. If you don’t have the time to know who you are, and what you want in life, it’s hard to offer your best to other people in your life.
So take yourself to the spa, take an afternoon off reading at a coffee shop or even watch a movie alone. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is something that you can enjoy, and give yourself time to reflect on… well, yourself. [Read: 11 tips to love yourself and be a better you]
#2 You also need to discover and maintain your own friends group. While it’s nice to have close friendships that you share with your partner, it’s also exciting when you can call up a friend or two and arrange to spend time with people outside your relationship.
You must also stop insisting that a significant other can fulfill each and every one of our wishes and desires, as this is extremely unrealistic and unfair.
Your relationship with your partner shouldn’t be the only relationship that can fill your wants and needs in life. Other people should always be part of your life. You need friends, family members and other networks of people to offer a sense of community, and to identify with outside your relationship. [Read: The ultimate guide to making more friends]
#3 It’s also really important to have your own hobbies and interests. Of course, you will share some of these with your partner, as it’s probably what brought you together in the first place. But being able to be a part of something individually will allow you to gain confidence, be aware of your personal goals, and generally be your own person.
So join a book or film club, work out at a different gym, take a night class or attend some events without your partner. Having something that is your thing is completely rewarding! You should also encourage and motivate your partner to have his or her own interests and hobbies!
#4 A big part about finding the right balance of space in your relationship is being completely honest with your partner. It’s not enough to say, “I need space” and leave it at that. Space in a relationship is generally perceived as a negative thing or as rejection, so you need to be honest and specific about what it is you need. If you are vague with your partner, they will most likely be left hurt and confused.
However, if you are specific why you need the space, your partner will be less likely to feel rejected and hurt. If you express to them what you feel you are lacking, or that you want to try something new, it allows your partner to be more supportive of your need for some time without him or her tagging along.
#5 Respect your partner’s needs. While you may ask for support in a new class or personal goal you’ve set for yourself, you should also respect what your partner asks for. If they show interest in a new hobby or express that they’d like to mix up their routine, you need to be supportive as well. A relationship takes the effort of both parties, so in order to find a balance of space, you need to make sure each of your needs are taken into account. [Read: 12 signs you’re being selfish in your relationship]
Space in your relationship is a good thing.
Growing as a couple is important, but growing as an independent individual is important too. If you love yourself, have your own friends and hobbies, and have time to relax from your day to day responsibilities, you will be a happier individual with an established sense of self.
With a good balance of space in a relationship, you will actually end up appreciating your partner more, as you don’t take them or their time for granted. You will take the time to arrange special nights out, and making more of an effort when you spend time together.
[Read: Are your space issues caused by abandonment issues? Find out here!]
Couples who respect one another’s space and independence have stronger relationships. So start taking those new dance lessons or take that solo trip you planned years ago, your relationship will be healthier if you just give it a fair shot!
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