Where Am I in All of This?

Relationship PhotoWe create our perspective on relationships from our family, friends, what we read, watch on TV and in movies; a huge number of sources.  We take all of that in and then decide what OUR particular viewpoint will be.  One thing that most of us feel challenged by is how to be an individual in a relationship.  How to be yourself when living as a couple. 

To start with, you ARE a unique individual. Period. There has never been nor ever will be anyone like you. That’s the magic of the biology and psychology that makes us who we are.  Nothing you nor anyone else can do will change that.

Being in a relationship, being a couple, does not mean merging two people to create one thing. It is your uniqueness that you bring into the relationship that makes it work.  Your special talents and skills, your likes, dislikes and your passions all go into creating a healthy relationship.

When one person in the relationship tries to mold the other into something that they think they want in the relationship, real conflict begins. Worse than that, if the other person “gives in” and becomes what the other person wants, then a lot of dysfunction happens.

In a healthy relationship, two people work on their own paths and create a third path where they both meet and enjoy life together. They compliment each other which works to make the relationship stronger, more solid.

So how does one stay in touch with their individuality while in a relationship?

Do something for yourself

Sounds simple but it is important. In a relationship you don’t discard all of your interests that your partner doesn’t share. Make time to continue to enjoy those preferences. Tell your partner what you are doing. Don’t leave them guessing what you do for two hours every Thursday evening!

Remember that your partner is also a unique individual and needs the same space to pursue their interests. Perhaps it works for both of you to “do your own thing” for a couple of hours on Thursday night.

Do something for someone else

A healthy relationship is full of compassion. It’s not healthy if the only space where we have compassion is within our relationship.  Do something for another family member. Volunteer somewhere. Practice random acts of compassion. The goal is to exercise your compassion muscles somewhere outside of your relationship.

Work on your own stuff

Have you ever been in a conversation where someone is complaining about all of the things their partner does that annoys them, and you think “What about what you do that annoys them?” We all have areas in our lives that we would like to change. No one else can do the work for change to happen. Don’t wait until someone points it out. Take the initiative and do the work.

Oh, and if you’re thinking, “I don’t have anything to work on!” that’s probably the first place to start!

Set some goals for yourself

This seems like a no-brainer, but so many people don’t know how to answer the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” Discover what you are passionate about, or create something.  What is it that allows you to express your interests in ways that give you joy? Once you have a goal, define some baby steps to get there.  You want to create a plan that with each step you move closer to your goal. 

It all makes it better

What does emphasizing the individual have to do with a relationship? The energy you put into yourself will be felt in the relationship.  When you are not putting energy into yourself, you may be pulling energy out of the relationship.  Co-dependency is an example of this.

You are not ignoring the relationship by taking time for yourself. You are creating a healthier space in which the relationship can grow. And when both of you are conscious of this need, the strongest, healthiest relationship will be created.

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