Almost everyone has had someone else refer to their partner as their “other half.” It is a term of endearment used in relationships meant to show that you love someone so much, they complete you or make you whole.
The idea is romantic, and the aspiration of being the perfect fit is comforting. People looking for a relationship often go out looking for someone who makes them feel alive and makes them want to be the best version of themselves. Nevertheless, while the bond formed between two true partners is difficult to break, it also needn’t be all-consuming.
Having a strong relationship does not mean that you need to lose yourself in it. In fact, having a strong relationship means that you are free to maintain a level of independence. This autonomy is crucial not only for the health of the relationship but for your own life.
As the saying goes, “before you love someone else, you must first love yourself.”
Independence does not mean making decisions without considering your partner, such as undertaking expensive repairs for homeowners without consulting anyone. It also does not mean that you should put yourself above your partner or your relationship.
Independence means having your own life and your own individuality. Independence means spending time what are interesting and meaningful to you. Only so can one be self-sufficient and strong enough to support and love one’s partner.
Achieving a healthy level of independence actually means achieving a healthy level of dependence at the same time. It means intelligently allowing yourself to rely on your partner’s strong suits when you are feeling weak.
Interdependence is a lot like independence but it gives you the best of both worlds. Being independent can leave you feeling lonely. Interdependence allows you to be a strong person who is able to be in a committed relationship but still does not have to compromise your own values to do so.
According to psychologists, a mutually health dependency lifts both of your self-esteem. This healthy dependency requires trust and support and both of those things are fostered through togetherness.
Being interdependent is the best way that you can interact with those close to you. Whether it is a partner, a family member or a close friend, maintaining the sanctity of the relationship while still leaving room for yourself is the best way to love yourself and love others.
Novelists, columnists and Hollywood screen writers will tell you that you are only in love if you get lost in your relationship. They are wrong. Love is the solid bedrock upon which a lasting relationship is built. But at some point, you need to move past that love that you have for yourselves as a couple. You need to begin to nurture your relationship as an entity that includes not only yourselves as a couple but both of you as separate individuals as well. Only when individualities are allowed to grow in an relationship can the relationship be long lasting and healthy.
When you are in a healthy relationship, you should never be afraid of struggling on your own. It is okay to rely on someone else sometimes. As long as you remember that part of the balance is loving the individuals in your relationship as much as you love the relationship as much as you love both people in it, you can have a healthy, interdependent relationship.
As another old saying goes, “nobody can go it alone.” As it turns out, this is not a bad thing.
Featured photo credit: Matthew G via flickr.com
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