Why It’s Important to Keep Separate Lives No Matter How Serious Your Relationship Is

Be an Individual

Some of us have more need for personal space and alone time than others, and generally relationships work best when we agree with the other person about how that space looks. Some people are cool with seeing their significant others one day a week, while other people hang out with their girlfriends every single day.

There’s not really a right or a wrong way to do it, as long as the time spent together is leaving enough room for each individual to remain whole within it. People who ditch their separate lives for the coupling often feel like they’re doing that in support of the relationship, but in actuality it can lead to a weakening of it over time. The advice here is not to avoid getting close to someone else in a relationship, but rather to hold onto the individuality while you do.

One thing that happens when people spend too much time as a unit is that they can start to give up their individual hobbies.

Hobbies are of course tied into our interests, which we don’t want to walk away from. On one hand, one of the awesome things about relationships is that we get to experience new things that the other person might introduce us to. So in that sense of course you want to check out their favorites and show them some of yours as well. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that she needs to drop her spin classes to attend your Crossfit ones just for the sake of being together during your workouts.

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Sometimes when we spend a lot of time with other people blending our interests it can be harder to keep track of who’s interests are whose. You’ve seen the couples who think they like something but aren’t even really quite sure because they’ve been doing it for so long. Individuality is important to avoid plateaus, together an apart. You don’t want to get sidetracked to the point that you start to give up on things that were previously big goals. Of course our goals and intentions can shift as time goes by and we change, but that shouldn’t simply be due to the fact that someone else is now along for the ride.

Ultimately this can lead to resentment.

If one or both people in a relationship intentionally or inadvertently give up a hobby or goal that was important to them before the relationship, there’s a tendency to blame that on the person. Partly that’s a fair feeling, since it only happened because the other person is there. But it’s also an unfair feeling because we the other person probably didn’t make them give it up, they allowed that to happen despite the warning signs along the way. A lot of people are in the habit of blaming others instead of taking responsibility for their own mistakes because it’s easier then owning up to things. That might be forgivable for a tattling toddler but it only creates divides in relationships once we’re expected to be functioning like adults.

Naturally spending too much time together will also take time from your other relationships.

If you don’t keep your separate lives going into a relationship then you’ll be spending a lot of your social time together as well. Some of that is one on one and some of it is with your friends. But sometimes the total blending of relationships and friendships isn’t the most natural thing and people respond by spending less time with the friends than they did before. This is potentially problematic in a lot of ways. We need friends even if we’re in relationships, because who else are we supposed to discuss our relationship troubles with? Plenty of people do a lot of emotional processing by running things by their friends even if they aren’t asking for outright advice. The friends who know us well are also the ones who can point out that something seems amiss even before we come to terms with it. There’s no way that the conversations are exactly the same that we have with our friends versus our romantic partners, and sometimes we need to honor those variances to stay sane and grounded.

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For another thing, it’s important to keep outside relationships as strong as ever so that we don’t become too dependent on our significant others. (Or even veer into co dependent territory.) It’s normal and wonderful to be able to do things for your significant other and them for you, but we also can’t let go of the fact that we were perfectly functional and capable as single people before we met them. Relationships aren’t an opportunity to slack off in certain ways, they’re opportunities to balance both the needs of ourselves and another person all at once.

If for some reason a relationship ends at some point, it’s preferable to feel at least partly stable on your own two feet and that can only happen if you retain your personal stability during the relationship as well. It’s not that you prepare for disaster or assume that things will go sour, but by being reasonable about the possibilities you can actually help strengthen the relationship as you go.

Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that they’re giving something to their partners by giving them everything, but that can also come across as smothering and weak behavior. Strong people don’t lose their footing as they gift parts of themselves, it actually serves to make them even stronger when they’re respecting both parties and respecting healthy boundaries.  Emotionally healthy people find it attractive when other people are confident and whole regardless of what’s going on around them, so naturally the healthiest relationships are made up of two people who are balanced in that way.

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Of course no one is perfect, so there are a lot of variations of this. Some of us are confident one day and not so much the next. Most of us are on strong learning journeys in life and it can take some time to learn the right lessons the right way. But the key is to remember we end and where someone else begins so that we can sort through what’s really taking place in our lives.

We all need some alone time.

When we go from the single life into a serious relationship we usually give up a certain amount of alone time, but we can’t ever trade it all in. Spending time alone is really important for the introspection that we need to be good for other people as well as our selves. Put it this way…relationships shouldn’t become a distraction from being in touch with how we really feel. Whenever you aren’t sure of what your feelings and emotions are, that’s a good sign that it’s a good time for allowing yourself the personal freedom to get your think on.

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