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Why Two Shouldn’t Become One in Relationships

Why Two Shouldn’t Become One in Relationships

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.

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As the saying goes, “before you love someone else, you must first love yourself.”

Independence gives you the strength to support each other.

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.

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Interdependence lifts your self esteem.

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.

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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.

It’s okay to ask for help if you need it.

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.

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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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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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