If you are in a relationship, would you consider yourself as “independent?” Take a minute to reflect on what this term means to you and your partner. Webster describes being independent as, “not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, thinking or acting.” So, did your opinion of your relationship independence change as a result of Webster’s definition?
Are you truly free to be yourself and to be an autonomous person within your relationship, and is your partner also free to be him or herself? Hopefully, the answers to these questions are “yes” and “yes.” A strong, healthy relationship allows room for independence, while also offering opportunities to be a positive influence on each other. Just like a teacher can challenge a student to learn new information or a coach can inspire a player to perform at a higher level, a romantic partner can promote positive changes in his or her lover. And, of course, the opposite is true, and people change in negative ways because of a partner. So, how can you measure your degree of independence and self-reliance in your relationship? Try this simple, non-scientific survey:
As a result of your relationship, do you…
- Have fewer of your former friends, or do you still have most or all of your former friends?
- Need a text message every morning from your partner to feel secure, or are you okay with text messages whenever they come?
- Feel jealous when your partner hugs a female friend, or is that just a nice gesture?
- Always have to “eat” where they want, or do you get to choose, too (same question with any other decision that impacts you)?
- Check his phone and email in order to feel secure, or are you secure without the snooping?
- Forget about life goals you once had or does the relationship nurture those goals?
- Have more bad habits than when you first met or fewer bad habits?
- Have weaker ties and less contact with your family, or do you have stronger ties?
- Hide receipts when you purchase something new, or do you make purchases freely?
- Feel just “settled” and content, or do you feel truly happy?
Reviewing your answers to these questions, did you answer more of them in a positive, more independent fashion (option #2 on all questions) or did you find yourself answering in a more negative light? Can your answers to these questions change if you wanted them to change?
There are always options. If you really don’t like the answers to these questions, maybe you need a more independent partner, or you need to become more independent in your relationship? Being independent doesn’t mean you have to be alone. There are plenty of potential partners out there who are intelligent, engaging and as independent as you need them to be while letting you “do you.” Being more independent does not always mean starting a revolution, but it can mean starting a dialogue with your partner about a more mutually independent relationship. These types of conversations may need a little professional help or mediation, depending on the length of time together, if the topics are difficult to address in a healthy way.
This July 4th, as we celebrate our country’s independence, it may be a good time to check out the fireworks in your relationship. Can you, with good conscious, set off fireworks for the good ol’ USA and for your relationship independence? This could help you “form a more perfect union!” And, according to the great Diana Ross from Diana Ross and the Supremes, one of the most popular female singing groups in the 1960s, “They tell me that it will be hard to find a man strong enough to love my own strength and independence and not worry about being Mr. Diana Ross, but I disagree. I know absolutely that that man is somewhere out there.”
Happy Independence Day!