How Individuality Strengthens Relationships
Take a moment to think about some of the teamwork that sustains many serious relationships: living together, sharing financial responsibilities and splitting chores are just a few that come to mind. All these have a common thread - they require two individuals to come together and effectively function as one.
Although this mindset is prevalent among couples, it's important to remember that individuality is just as important for the wellbeing of a relationship. The best partners are those who maintain a strong sense of self regardless of their relationship status.
Here are a few questions that will help you cultivate a healthy sense of self-interest:
What Are My Needs?
Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows how important it is to meet their partner's needs. But it's also crucial to communicate your needs as well. Relationships are equal parts give and take, so make sure you're not spending so much time obsessing over your partner's needs that you neglect your own. It's easy for unmet needs to breed resentment, and that's the last thing you want to feel towards your partner.
What is Important to Me?
If you were to ask a group of people what matters most in a relationship, you would probably receive a wide range of answers. Some might value physical attributes such as height and waist size, while others might mention virtues such as patience and loyalty. There's no right or wrong answer — it all boils down to preference. Relationships flourish when both parties are unapologetic about what triggers their attraction, so there's no need to constantly interrogate what draws you to a person.
Where Do I Draw the Line?
There is a fine line between being an attentive partner who does what they can to make their partner happy, and giving too much of yourself in service of a relationship. Unfortunately, no one can tell you where that line is. It differs from relationship to relationship and should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. But if you answered the first two questions honestly, you shouldn't have too much of a problem figuring out how to set healthy boundaries.
The idea of individuality almost seems like a foreign concept in modern relationships. Movies, magazines, and matchmakers all list intimacy as a crucial component in romantic relationships. But intimacy and individuality aren't mutually exclusive. They can, and do co-exist in healthy relationships.
Like everything that has to do with a relationship, maintaining a sense of self is hard, but the reward exceeds the effort. Gone are the days when people expected their partners to complete them. Nowadays, people want someone who will complement them. Modern relationships are a pairing of equals — two individuals with healthy, exciting lives coming together to share their world with each other and eventually build one together. What could be more beautiful than that?