Relationship and Independence… are they Mutually Exclusive?

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Relationship and Independence… are they Mutually Exclusive?

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My niece is getting married, excited and brimming with happiness she called to invite me for the ceremony and then she went on to tell me how she is looking forward to enjoying and sharing her life with her significant other and how he has been planning their life together and what all they will be doing or not doing, together etc. When she paused for a breath, expressing my love for her I asked, ‘what about how she wants to live her life? Will she pursue what interests her? Has she thought about that?’ She has been an independent girl for the past 5-6 years earning and living by herself. My question put a full stop in her flow… she thought and said “Bua I am actually scared, does this mean I can no longer do what I want? And be who I want to be?”

If you’ve ever been in love and in a relationship, you’ve likely experienced the wonderful intimacy you enjoy in such relationships. The very thought of your partner triggers the most marvelous feelings, and you’re on cloud nine when you catch a glimpse of them or hear from them.

Yet, it’s perfectly okay and even healthy to also be your own person. In fact, in my mind the secret to a healthy relationship is maintaining your own individuality at all times (I think its charming actually). After all our partners fell in love with us, for who we are and hopefully not with the image of a person they want to love.

Enjoying our own hobbies, our friends and the personal adventures we still want to pursue are all reminders of who we are and what makes us awesome.

Demonstrating independence in our love relationship has benefits that support us in the long run and allow us to have a fulfilling life, together.

It helps us to maintain our sense of self. When we have solitary pursuits, we are able to engage with our uniqueness. Bringing out our individual qualities ensures we are a worthy partner, adding flavors that each has not tasted before. This makes the relationship more interesting. When we bring our own personal interests to the table, we have something to share and talk about with our partner. We learn and grow together and get a sense of a special sharing that we experience only with that individual.

In this fast paced world of social media where everything gets jaded within days, if not minutes, keeping the relationship fresh is a challenge. Spending time together is nice, but too much togetherness can cause relationship burn-out. Then too, I think, spending quality time needs to have fuel to keep it engaging and something to look forward to, which is heightened when we bring various dimensions and hues to the mix.

Too much of anything makes it jaded and taken for granted.

Santosh, told me that he was facing difficulties with his partner as she gets upset with him being absent on weekends, while he pursues his interest in golf. I asked him what does she do while he is away? The answer of course was, she waits…(you see the problem). To cut the long story short, we figured that she was a keen dancer and had given it all up for family and career. Santosh gifted her a dance class enrollment, which she could attend on the weekends and organized a baby sitter as well, for that period when she was away. I am told dinners are a pleasant times and each one looks forward to hearing how their activity went…

We are better partners if we each have time to pursue individual interests. Doing what interests us gives us a sense of wellbeing and achievement, not to mention distance makes the heart grow fonder.

Our relationship flourishes as we grow in our own personal way. Rest assured that we have plenty of valid reasons to want our independence, even as we foster our romantic relationship.

I have often recommended few simple steps to clients while coaching them, who start believing that individualism and relationships are mutually exclusive and have seen some good results. I share those here with you;

  • Take time to pursue activities and interests. Participate in desired activities at least a few times a month. Whatever these might be, a book reading, a play reading, running with a group, a cooking bunch, anything at all. Personal development ensures we are well-rounded at home and in your career.
  • FRIENDS; Socialize with friends, our very own special friends. Spend time with friends to ensure we stay grounded. Staying in touch helps us to preserve the essence of the real us. Our friends know who we are and what we’ve been through. It’s a great leveler and morale booster.
  • Follow intellectual pursuits; Research topics that fascinate us as an individual. Let’s say we just watched a movie filmed in Tuscany, Italy. If travel is of interest, take time to explore Tuscany through online websites, books, and other films.
  • Share feelings. Being an individual means staying in touch with our feelings and sharing them with others. We might even disagree with our partner and that’s okay. Acknowledging and sharing our feelings encourages our partner to do the same.
  • Keep mind, emotions, and sense of self intact; participate in self growth activities. These can be anything from yoga to meditation to listening to soothing music or reading a self-empowering book. A healthy relationship requires two healthy individuals.

These are simplistic solutions however can give tremendous results in cementing our relationship and keeping our sense of individualism enact. In an uplifting relationship, our partners are there to boost our confidence, as well as reinforce the commitment and connection in our relationship.

When we strive to be the best individual we can be, we also enhance what we have with the love of our life!

(Writer is a Life and Personal Branding Coach and practices from Mumbai, India)

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