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10 Ways In Which Being Independent Makes Your Relationship Better

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10 Ways In Which Being Independent Makes Your Relationship Better

Successful and happy relationships are really important if we want to live a long and happy life. This is the view of Dr. John Gottman, a relationships expert, in a recent interview with CNN. Being in a healthy relationship is going to impact much more than your gluten free diet or whether you run a marathon every week!

A vital component in a successful relationship is being independent. That may seem like a contradiction because it implies a certain distance and detachment. In reality, it will help you thrive. Here are ten ways you can make sure this happens.

1. You keep your identity

“In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”- Erich Fromm

It is wonderful to have shared interests which will bond you in a marvellous way. However, you do not need to do this 100% of the time. The risk is that you lose your individuality and you end up as a very tight couple or morphed unit. Just think of the pleasure in doing something on your own and then coming back to tell each other about it.

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2. You are self sufficient

I know lots of couples where one or both are so dependant on each other that they just cannot function on their own. Simple skills like driving a car, cooking a basic meal and even making friends on Facebook are left to the other partner. The problem here is that you can become over dependent and this can result in a whinging and clingy significant other. Aiming for a degree of self sufficiency is very wise. It takes off a lot of the pressure.

3. You know how to keep the relationship fresh

After years and years, you know exactly how your partner is going to react and what she or he is going to say! It becomes a sort of ritual and in some ways, this is reassuring. But if this leads to a stale and stagnant relationship, then it is time to think again. Dr. Gottman believes that courtship never stops, even in a marriage lasting forty years!

The solution is to occasionally add in some or all of the following:

  • start a new hobby you are both keen on
  • cook something different
  • try a new weekend activity or venue
  • make an effort to meet new friends

4. You know how to create your own space

Keeping your identity means in practice creating some space and privacy for yourself. Ideally, there will be physical space and time to do this so that the other partner does not feel embarrassed or in the way. So, each can pursue their own friends, hobbies or just chill out. The important thing is not to feel that you are neglecting your responsibilities as a partner. You are both mature enough to understand this is not abandonment. You are, in fact, helping to nurture the relationship.

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5. You know how to grow in a relationship

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Lots of couples exhaust all their possibilities within a few years. The relationship needs to grow. You will need more than a few novelties here. This goes much deeper. Here, you have to deal with conflicts when they arise. Learning how to lower expectations, or to practise more patience and acceptance are great ways to learn from conflicts and see them as an opportunity for growth. This is easier when you are more independent.

6. You realize the need to recharge emotionally

Being less codependent means that you are in charge of your emotions, feelings and perceptions. You are not going to let your partner hijack them!

In practice, this means that you are both able to take time off to recharge your emotional batteries. This makes spending time together afterwards so much more enjoyable. I love the advice that Darlene Lancer gives in her book Codependency for Dummies.

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7. You know how to be flexible

Independence means the freedom to schedule your workload. But when you travel a lot for work and your partner may be left alone for long periods, this can become a problem. You both know that flexibility will be the key to solving this problem. Your independence can really help here because you just know how to be flexible. Compromises can be reached and this can prevent the problem from getting out of hand.

8. You know how to be assertive

“We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror.” – Randy Paterson in The Assertiveness Workbook

If you are both assertive, it does not necessarily mean a clash or conflict. Finding the right dose of give and take is an essential element in being independent. You do not want to be a dictator nor do you want to be a doormat. Basically, you both know what you want and you are able to set the boundaries which reflect your needs and emotional well being.

9. You know not to check up all the time

Once you have established your time off with your friends, try not to check up by sending texts or phoning. There is nothing more annoying when you get these beeps and alerts. Cut it out!

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10. You know what to focus on

“The quality of our life is the quality of our relationships.” – Anthony Robbins.

Being independent means also feeling free to concentrate on your life’s ambition, whatever that is. It may be your work or some sport you love doing. This helps to put things into perspective and is also important for having your own sense of self. Not forgetting that we all want to be supported, cared for and loved. If we succeed, that will be the quality hallmark in our lives.

Featured photo credit: Couple framed/David Amsler via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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