We all have that friend of a friend who went through a bad breakup and was never the same again. Perhaps it happened to a close friend. Perhaps it happened to you. Either way, it is not uncommon for people to not know how to be independent in a relationship while loving someone else wholeheartedly.
Somehow, the whole idea of finding a special someone tends to overshadow one’s right to independence.
But what you need to remember is that no matter how much you love your partner, you should never sacrifice your independence for the relationship.
There are plenty of ways to be together without giving up a huge part of yourself. If your partner demands this of you and refuses to budge, then you need to get off your butt and walk away.
Conserving your independence is one of the most important things that you can offer yourself, as it gives you the freedom to be the real you.
Also, your partner fell in love with you for who you are. If you lose that independent streak and change yourself into someone who’s clingy and attached all the time, that changes who you are as a person. And while you may believe being so attached would bring your partner closer, it may in fact push them further away from you because you’re being so needy. [Read: Am I clingy? Here’s how to uncover the truth about yourself]
By being independent, you can also ensure that you love your partner for who they are as a person, not because you need them to have a better life yourself.
And finally, changing yourself to please another person isn’t right, as it will lead to plenty of problems down the road. From minor resentment to downright hate, to infidelity to messy divorces, nothing good will come out of selling your soul! [Read: How to stop being so needy – Why people start relying on someone else and how to slowly stop it]
Whether your relationship is a few days old or you’ve been together for years, here are some very important tips that you should keep in mind when it comes to taking control and being more independent in a relationship.
There are myriad ways to do this, but here are some of the basic things that every person out there should pay attention to:
This is probably the most important thing to remember when you want to know how to be independent in a relationship. Let’s say that you are in a relationship with a person who makes life so comfortable that working isn’t necessary.
However, as time goes by, they might unconsciously use money as an incentive for you to behave according to their wishes.
There might be requests such as “help me out with this, and I’ll buy you that bag you’ve been eyeing,” and “here’s some cash while I’m out of town, and please don’t forget to pick up my dry cleaning.” You might start feeling more like their secretary than their partner. As happy as you might be to do these things for them, you might feel horrible about yourself.
It might even be hard climbing out of a financial rut that you might have buried yourself in, as you might be used to being a pampered person.
Losing your individualism and being dependent on your partner can change you because you might have to explain why you needed money for this, why you needed to buy that, and so on. But you can take control of your life, jump back into the workforce, and get back in control of your finances. [Read: How to get your shit together – 16 strategies to stop feeling so stuck]
No more handouts from the other person, and to be honest, your relationship might actually get better than ever. They might appreciate and respect your independence, and honestly, you might even be a much happier and stronger person for it.
So, we can’t stress just how important it is to be in control of your finances and learning how to be independent in a relationship. It gives you the power to make your own decisions and be your own person. The more dependent you are on someone, the more likely you are to lose yourself, and that is the deadliest trap that you could possibly fall into. [Read: Emotional dependency and signs you’re overly reliant on others]
It’s totally fine to have a shared group of friends, but always remember that it’s very important to have your own group. This is especially true if you met your shared friends through your partner.
In times of turmoil, they will always take your partner’s side, regardless of who’s in the wrong, and you will be left with zero support. The realization that your friends will not be there to support you through your darkest hour is perhaps one of the saddest things ever.
Always make time for girls’ or boys’ night out, and although it’s fine if your partner joins you every so often, try to spend solo time with your friends at least several times a month.
Being with people who were there long before your partner will remind you of who you really are, and they will give you the best kind of support if shit hits the fan.
There’s no need to behave like Velcro when you’re in a relationship. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time alone. By learning how to be independent in a relationship, you’d learn to stay true to yourself and who you are as a person before you met your new partner.
Whether it’s enjoying a lovely spring day with a latte at your corner café or taking some time apart to indulge in hobbies, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally flying solo.
As much as you might love the person you’re with, you have to love yourself too. You should have no qualms about ditching them for a Sunday afternoon to do something for yourself, indulge in scones and tea, and just do all the things that you adore. [Read: What you can do when you want to spend some time alone]
There’s no need to give up what you love for your partner, so it is very important to have your own hobbies. If you find someone who loves doing the same things as you, then bravo.
However, most of the time, couples tend to have relatively different interests. She may adore Bikram hot yoga, whereas he prefers collecting Star Wars figurines.
No matter what, remember that there’s nothing wrong with doing stuff you love without your partner. It’s important to feed your soul with things that pique your interest and ignite your passion.
Another way to be independent in a relationship is to have an opinion. You may be in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean you’ve given up your voice and brain, right? Stand your ground, voice your opinion, and play an active role in the partnership.
If you want to be apathetic about small stuff like deciding where to head to for dinner, then go right ahead, but when it comes to the big stuff like your future, make sure your voice is heard.
The same can also be said about standing your ground on things that you believe in. If you end up with someone who’s completely against gay marriage, whereas you wholeheartedly support it, don’t change your mind just because you want to please your partner. You are your own individual and are entitled to your own opinions. [Read: How your self-respect affects you and your relationships]
You can also retain your independence by retaining what’s important to you. Some people say that being in love is all about sacrifice, and to some extent, they’re right.
It’s fine to give up some things for the well-being of your partner and your relationship, but just be sure that you don’t sacrifice too much. You will end up resenting your partner, they will end up resenting you, and all the sacrifices that you made will be for nothing.
For example, your partner may relocate to another country for work, and after much thought, you decide to tag along.
Only do so if you have viable job opportunities there and you are able to go ahead with whatever long-term plan that you’ve mapped out for yourself pre-relationship. The last thing you want is to feel stuck, bored, lonely, and completely dependent on your partner wherever you end up. [Read: How to focus on yourself in a relationship and avoid losing yourself]
Another great way to be independent, even if you’re in a relationship, is to not sweat the small stuff. Getting obsessed over petty things will drive you crazy, take focus away from the things that really matter, and worst of all, snatch away your independence.
An example is freaking out over why your partner hasn’t invited you to move in yet. You will worry about it day in and day out, obsessing over why your partner isn’t ready, whether it’s something you did, whether you should even be together, and so on.
One question always leads to another, and there’s no doubt that your brain will go into overdrive and blow everything out of proportion.
Always remember to let things slide, don’t obsess over the small stuff, and remember that life goes on, regardless of how tough times may be. When you have a life of your own and learn to be independent in a relationship, you stop depending so much on waiting for your partner to decide the direction of your relationship, and your life! [Read: 17 most important things that hold a relationship together]
Another massively important thing to remember is to never sign anything that may work against you in the future. We’re not talking about marriage. We’re talking about everyday stuff that you share with your partner.
Let’s say you have a good friend who recently relocated to Sweden with her long-term Swedish partner. She finds a job there and is financially independent. They remain unmarried but recently bought a home together.
What might surprise you is that she went ahead and signed all the property documents without understanding a single word or even doing her research on the process.
From bank-related mortgage paperwork to partial ownership of the house, she signed all the Swedish documents in front of her, despite the fact that she can’t speak or read Swedish. Who knows what those papers may have said!
There’s nothing wrong with wholeheartedly trusting your partner, but at the end of the day, when it comes to your life savings, everyday finances, and signing off on stuff that’s legally binding like bank loans, being a guarantor, and asset ownership, it is always best to understand everything you’re getting yourself into.
This is even more important when you’re investing abroad. Always remember that a country’s laws will protect its citizens’ rights above yours.
Although that person might be happy in her relationship, she still might voice concerns about getting royally f*cked over, should things end badly.
Sad to say, this is a good example of giving up your independence in a relationship, and if you ever find yourself in a similar position, do not even think of doing the same thing. Be sure to always cover your ass and be smart about your choices. [Read: Should you be worried about justifying your life choices?]
One of the big reasons that people stop being independent when they are in a relationship is how they feel about themselves. They probably don’t like being alone, and so when they get into a partnership, they lose themselves in the other person.
But this behavior is generally rooted in the fact that you don’t love yourself very much. Because when you do love yourself, you will have self-respect and won’t become dependent on another person.
So, you need to work on your self-esteem. You have to love yourself enough to be alone or to enjoy time apart in a relationship. [Read: 19 signs of low self-esteem in a woman that prove you need self-love]
Everyone has a different way that they emotionally attach to other people. One of these is the anxious-attachment style. What this means to someone who has this is that they are anxious when they are not with the person they love.
When they are anxious, it makes them want to be more dependent and clingy. So, if this sounds like you, then examine why you are that way and how you can change it. Try to become more securely attached so you can be more independent in your relationship.
Maybe you are very religious or have strong political views that you are passionate about. Well, if that’s true, then stick to your morals and values. Don’t let your partner change you and your opinions about the world.
If you don’t stay true to yourself and your convictions, then you will allow your partner to dictate your whole life. And that will keep you dependent on them forever if you let that happen. [Read: The best self-reflective questions to help stay true to yourself]
Some people see being a people-pleaser or a “giver” as an altruistic thing to do. They think it shows their love for other people because they will do anything and everything the other one wants them to do.
But it is not true. Sure, you’re nice for wanting to please people. But that means you don’t have very high self-respect because you sacrifice your own needs for the other person. Instead, you should demand a balanced relationship of give and take. [Read: Why people take you for granted – 16 signs and firm ways to stop them]
Similar to being a people-pleaser, a person who doesn’t draw boundaries tends to be a doormat. So, you need to tell your partner what is and what is not acceptable to you in the relationship.
This can be anything from what you will try in bed to the household chores. You need to define what your role is and what their role is. The lines of acceptable and unacceptable need to be drawn very clearly. And there need to be some consequences if your partner doesn’t honor them. [Read: Healthy relationship boundaries – how to talk about them and set them]
If you think that you are just instinctively and unconsciously spending time with your significant other, then it can get to be too much. Instead of falling into routines of when you hang out, you need to be more conscious and purposeful about it.
So, you need to get out a schedule and write down when you are going to have “couple time” and when you are going to have “me time.” Literally, write it in both of your calendars so you know when it’s time to have some alone time and neither of you gets upset about it.
In the end, is it certainly a joy to find someone whom you can pledge your life to, share experiences with, and grow old with. That’s one of life’s greatest gifts, and you have to be sure that you are wholehearted appreciative, and grateful that you were given it.
[Read: Time apart in a relationship – 21 signs, reasons, and how to bring it up]
Now that you know how to be independent in a relationship, you should never compromise your independence and personal happiness, because if you have to, then it’s a sign that this relationship may not be the right one for you.
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