Love, Self

A More Independent You: How It Leads To A Healthier Relationship

A More Independent You: How It Leads To A Healthier Relationship

It's almost the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate our freedom in the United States. As much as we hold dear the idea of freedom as a society, we also value being part of a couple. So one might ask, "Do we give up our freedom, our independence, when we are part of a couple?"

One of my biggest concerns as a relationship expert are the unrealistic expectations that the media promotes to us from childhood: A dashing prince comes along on a white horse and carries his lady off into the sunset so they can live "happily ever after." This notion pervades our songs, novels and movies. So too often, there's the belief that being part of a couple is what allows you to feel complete. Not only is this risky to your personal self-image, but it's also dangerous to the relationship itself. Here, I offer five insights that I believe will help you attain a proper mindset and a healthier, independent you — and, inevitably, a better relationship.

1. Work through your personal issues. It's really important to work on your issues from your past before you enter into a relationship. Expecting your partner to be responsible for your emotional well-being is likely to become a burden and have negative consequences.

2. And don't let them creep up. If you haven't worked on your personal concerns, without even realizing it, they're likely to "leak" and get triggered with your partner. This relationship is the one where your emotions will be most vulnerable. If this happens, it's time to take personal responsibility and get to work (perhaps with a professional).

3. Cultivate your own interests. It's totally healthy and appropriate for each of you to have your own interests. This gives you each the opportunity to grow and to share your passions with each other. Being "joined at the hip" isn't what makes for a successful relationship.

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4. Respect your partner's independence. Value who your partner is rather than trying to make him/her into what you want them to be. No one has the right to change someone else and this will only lead to conflicts. Research has shown that the more we can give positive regard to our mate and their individual strengths, the better the relationship will fare.

5. Accept changes in your relationship. A relationship is a constantly evolving entity. As such, each of you may change. One of the best things each of you can do for the other is to reinforce and "cheerlead" the accomplishments of your partner as he/she has made independent strides.

Finally, I'd also like to address the ultimate "Independent YOU!" Though as I mentioned, our society tends to be "couple-minded," being part of a two-some may not be right for you ... or at least, maybe you haven't found the right partner yet. Relationships are only as good as the people who are in them and the work they put into them. So value who you are and only enter into a relationship when it's right for you!

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