Ways to Bond with your Partner While Maintaining Independence

independent relationship
| Opinion > Love and Life

In the heady moments of new love, it’s easy to become infatuated with your partner and forget your own needs. Although all relationships call for some level of compromise and sacrifice, it is possible to surrender too much of yourself for the sake of love. Being in a close, loving relationship doesn’t mean you have to be co-dependent — in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Maintaining your own independence is essential when developing a romantic relationship. There will always be certain elements of your personal life that should remain a priority. After all, a truly healthy relationship is made up of two independent people who agree to share their lives and form a deep connection together.

If you’re looking to avoid losing yourself in the throes of romance, consider the following ways to retain your independence while nurturing your relationship.

Friends

Your friends are an incredibly important part of your life. Their love, support, and investment in you should never be forgotten — especially when you are in a romantic relationship. It’s not uncommon in new relationships for people to spend time exclusively with their partner at the exclusion of their friends. This can be a problem — if you’re isolated from your friends, it’s much easier to become trapped in a bad relationship.

Maintaining a separate social life from that of your partner (that is, having your own friends and attending your own social events) is a necessary part of building a healthy relationship. You can’t expect your romantic partner to fulfill all your social needs. That’s far too much pressure to put on one person. Your partner should be your friend, but not the only one.

Solo Time + Together Time Idea

Plan a night out with your friends and encourage your partner to do the same. If leaving the house is difficult, time spent apart by arranging things like online gaming sessions with friends is still absolutely valid – it’s about finding the space to direct your energy towards your relationship with your friends, not the one with your partner. At the end of the evening, come together to share anecdotes and bond over the silliness of your experience and the fun you had.

Hobbies, Passions, & Dreams

A romantic relationship shouldn’t take up all your time. Your interests (hobbies, passions, and goals) are meaningful. They’re part of what makes you who you are, and whatever happens in life, you deserve to spend you-time with your interests. By continuing to focus on the things you love, you will grow as a person outside of your relationship.

Both money and time are finite, so choosing what they go towards is a significant decision. Your relationship will take some of these resources, but should never take them all.

Allow yourself to to set aside time and money to pour into your hobbies, education, career and health. A good partner will be supportive of your goals.

Solo Time + Together Time Idea

Create a cookbook chock full of heirloom recipes from both of your families. Enjoy cooking or baking up something delicious unassisted (if unassisted cooking is possible for you, depending on your ability). Spend time together over the finished product sharing stories and memories attached to the dish.

Alone Time

For many people (introverts especially) having time to themselves is an absolute necessity. It’s in those precious moments of solitude that they finally score some much-needed peace and quiet. This need for alone time doesn’t go away when they get into relationships — in fact, it may actually increase.

Time to yourself is incredibly important, as is learning to balance that time with the moments you spend with your partner. Time away from each other will keep your relationship fresh (romantic burnout is real, my friends), but you must always remember that just as you make time to be alone, you must make time to be together.

Solo Time + Together Time Idea

For every hour you set aside to spend alone, spend an hour with your partner (just the two of you). In those moments, do something together that you both enjoy, whether it be going on a date or simply curling up together and binge watching a show on Netflix.

If alone time is precious, and sleep is not an issue for you, you might choose to explore the personal practice of finding the heroic minute. ‘The heroic minute’ is the classical term for waking up early to have extra time to yourself while the world sleep.

Sleeping

Sleep deprivation is a real problem. For many people, sharing a bed is the primary cause. Separate bedtimes, snoring, blanket wrestling, thrashing, multiple alarms — all of these things can add up to a miserable night of sleep. Though there are many ways you can compromise in order to sleep better with a partner (separate blankets, a bigger mattress, etc.), don’t feel bad if it comes down to having separate beds. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, and someone who truly loves you will want you to be well rested.

Solo Time + Together Time Idea

Schedule 10 to 30 minutes of snuggle time every night. You can get that blissful body contact and talk to your heart’s content, and then move to opposite sides of the bed (or another room) once the time has passed. This way you can both meet your intimacy needs while assuring you get enough sleep to be happy and healthy in the morning.

What Independence Isn’t

Being independent doesn’t mean being a distant partner. It’s important we don’t use the term “independent” to disguise stubbornness, selfishness, or the fear of intimacy.

When you’re truly independent, you know that you still have to be a giving, emotionally-open participant in your relationship. You must be willing to compromise on those issues important to your partner. You must make time for them. And it’s important that they reciprocate. It’s a key part of mutual respect and twining intimacy with space.

Ultimately, your independence should manifest in a way that promotes intimacy and the long-term health of your relationship.

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