If you’re like most, you grew up with a very set image of how to be a woman in a relationship. It usually involves taking care of your man, putting up with his irritating habits because “boys will be boys,” or on the flipside, being controlling to the point of nagging your man to death.
It can’t be helped. There is a certain song and dance that’s existed between men and women for centuries, and you can find yourself playing along to it by accident.
But this is the modern age, you’re an independent woman, you can do whatever the heck you want, even unconventional things like meeting your partner on one of those naughty dating websites that everyone pretends they don’t use to find love.
But no matter how you meet your perfect match, in the end, all you want is a relationship that’s equal, loving, and meaningful without having to sacrifice your independence.
You don’t want to be someone’s “better half,” but instead be yourself with a loving partner.
You don’t have to swear off romance or accept that you’ll be playing into the dreaded cliché’s hands. Here’s how to keep your independence in a relationship.
Don’t Check in 24/7
Some couples find it endearing to stay in constant contact, recount their days in detail to each other, and text back and forth on a minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour basis, but think of it this way: Did you sign up for a boyfriend, or did you sign up for a warden?
It’s okay to not contact each other every minute of the hour and can actually improve your relationship.
If there’s nothing to be said, don’t feel the need to make small talk. It’ll make the conversations you both have more meaningful, and give you both a chance to breathe.
If you wouldn’t call your worrying mother that much, then don’t let your boyfriend convince you it’s disloyalty if you don’t text him constantly.
Demand Privacy, and Let Your Partner Have Privacy as Well
Remember how irritating it was to have a sibling rummaging through your closet and dresser drawers?
It wasn’t that you were hiding anything; it’s that you had a right to your own privacy. This fact doesn’t change when you get into a relationship.
As an independent adult, you have a right to keep some things to yourself.
Have a space that’s yours, allow your partner to have a private space of their own, and then respect that boundary.
Don’t share phones, or computers, or other items, depending on what you agree.
If you’re in a healthy relationship where you can trust one another, this won’t give rise to suspicion, but instead allow you both the breathing room to avoid petty irritations or small fights.
It also proves you trust and respect each other, which will grow and strengthen a relationship.
Make Some Decisions Without Discussing Them With Your Partner
If you have a shared bank account, then buying a new car isn’t something you should do without discussing it. But allow yourself the freedom as an adult to make calls and decisions without asking permission.
Want to stay out late tonight? Do it. Want to get lunch at your favorite restaurant? Do it. Want to get a tattoo? Do it.
Give your significant other the freedom to do the same. It’ll save you both time, and create spontaneity.
The biggest complaint about long-term relationships is things get predictable, so don’t let them – stay the same person you were when they met you… The person who made their own decisions.
Take Your Alone Time Seriously
We all need alone time, and part of living independently is spending time by yourself.
Take time to spend the day home alone, or go to the movies on your own, or take a small vacation by yourself without your partner. This will give you a chance to recharge and have new experiences you can take back to your boyfriend.
As a bonus, you’ll have an opportunity to miss them, making you both reevaluate and appreciate the relationship.
Don’t Be So Ready to Sacrifice
Relationships require sacrifice, that’s true. Whether it’s money, or time, or having to give up your favorite sofa when they move in and bring their own, it’s about a little give and take in every relationship.
But a strong relationship will require the least amount of sacrifice.
You need to know what you want, what you’re willing to put up with, and when you’re ready to put your foot down – and then stick to it.
If you don’t want to give up your career, don’t for the sake of the relationship. If you think they’re wrong, then don’t hold your tongue just to make them happy. If you don’t feel like going to a party with their family, or hanging out with their friends, or doing anything but enjoying some “you” time, then stand firm and state your decision.
Would you let your friend guilt you into doing something you didn’t feel like doing?
Then don’t let a boyfriend do it either.
Make Your Friends a Priority
Sure, if you’re going to marry someone, you should enjoy their company more, but banish the belief that you have to prove your love by measuring more time to them than anyone else.
If you had regular girl’s nights with your besties before you got into a relationship, don’t neglect that. If you went on weekend retreats every few months before, don’t reschedule just because you spend weekends with your boyfriend now. If your friend is having a special event, then feel free to reschedule a dinner with your significant other to make sure you’re there.
If you would’ve done it before, do it now – after all, you’re your own person.
Everything about dating today has been modernized. We meet the “one” through singles chat, we have dates through FaceTime, and we have technology that lets us feel each other’s heartbeats miles away.
It’s about time the modern structure of a relationship updated too.
You can still have a fantastic relationship and still be you – just remember how to be independent. It’s all about balance and not losing your identity in a relationship.