love and relationships

How To Remain Independent In A Relationship

“I can’t live without him,” my friend once told me in reference to her man.

On the surface, these words seem wildly romantic. This idea that someone can’t be without their love seems like something straight out of a romcom. But by the way she said it, all anxious and determined that being without him would be the death of her, it made me feel more worried than inspired. It was as though she had lost the free-spirited flame she once had before meeting her boyfriend, replaced with a codependent woman of whom I could barely recognize.

Who was this scared girl? Where did her full-of-life personality go? It was almost as though she had become half of the person she once was. Then I realized, this is what happens when you truly start to believe that your partner is your “other half”. I’m no math wiz by any means, but if your significant other becomes one half of you, then that means you are only half of a person now. That way, mathematically speaking, it is only when you and your partner are together that you can be whole again.

Again, it sounds romantic at first- this whole Jerry Maguire idea of “you complete me” fully at works here. But if you think about it, the idea of needing another person to make you “one” again is more terrifying than beautiful. In a way, it begins to sound a lot more like an addiction to that person as though they are your drug, your fix, rather than your partner.

By the way her foot kept shaking at the thought of being without him, by the biting of her nails, by the desperate look in her eyes, it was almost identical to a junkie experiencing withdrawal. Because she wasn’t currently with her boyfriend, it was almost as though she herself was experiencing it. It was horrifying to watch, and in a way I felt incredibly saddened, as though I had officially lost my friend to her drug of choice.

In the same way that some people are addicted to alcohol, others are addicted to the feeling of being in love. The endorphins, the hormones, the acceptance you feel, the sense of wholeness, they’re all symptoms that love addicts desire so desperately, they will do almost anything to get it. This includes the disposal of self-respect and love, disregarding your own values in order to get that lovey-dovey feeling back.

I know, because I have experienced it myself. I would get terrible separation anxiety whenever my boyfriend would have to leave, even after an entire day of hanging out. This is because I felt like I’d be lost without him. I was lost without him – and I didn’t want to be alone with myself, this “half-of-a-person” girl who was no longer whole. It was an awful feeling, losing myself to this relationship, causing a massive depression to overcome me. Who was I? Where did my flame go?
It turns out, my independent flame had burned out because it was too busy crackling all of its energy for my man at the time.

I am not by any means saying that any time you enter a relationship, you will become less of a person. This is not the case at all. What I am saying is that you should never sacrifice your independence for a romance. Both you and your partner need to be “whole” in order for the relationship to be healthy and happy rather than co-dependent.

If you ever find yourself getting lost in a relationship, there is no need to fear. You don’t need to automatically break up with your partner, but you need to catch yourself before you fall. Let me repeat – you need to catch yourself – not your lover.

Certain ways you can regain your independence are by making the other relationships in your life just as meaningful as your romantic one. When people even hear the word “relationship” their first thought is almost always in relation to a boyfriend/girlfriend type of union. But why should any of the other relationships in your life have any less meaning than they did before you met “the one”? If you don’t save enough love and energy for your family and friends, your relationship (and your mental state) are in for some real trouble.

Another way to keep yourself whole is to focus on your passions as much as possible. For example, my passion is writing. I used to write nearly every day, but when I entered my relationship I barely wrote once a week. My energy was too focused on my passion for him than my passion for work.

This article is not meant to scare anyone who might be in a relationship. As long as you give yourself a life (a fulfilling one) outside of your relationship, filled with strong bonds and your personal passions, you will never lose yourself. So do yourself a favor keep your flame alive.

Be Whole.

Simone Torn is a 22-year-old writer from Chicago, living with her twin sister and six crazy pets.

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