I cannot understand why, but many people seem to think that being in a relationship and being independent are mutually exclusive. Yes, there are relationships where one ends up being so engrossed and dependent on another person that they lose part of themselves.
I’m not just talking about being in love with a partner, but also about one’s relationship with one’s parents, for example. Those kinds of relationships are, I think, very unhealthy.
Any kind of relationship – be it between two spouses, filial love, sibling love, or the love between friends – should be a balanced relationship which not only fosters sharing, but also encourages individual development. Individual development is crucial throughout the life of a person, and it takes place continuously since we’re always learning and evolving both our character, and our mind and perceptions.
Image source: Findabalancedrelationship
If you feel that you’re in a relationship which stifles you, where you’ve no time for yourself, with no will to pursue your own personal interests, or no energy to explicitly state that you’re a separate and definite being apart from the relationship itself, then yes, that is probably because the partnership, friendship, or filial bond is an unbalanced one.
In a balanced relationship, the other person wants you to evolve and improve yourself. They want you to be an individual and not just a part of themselves. There’s a general misconception that once someone has a long-standing partner and is settled, one stops being an individual and transforms into that most undefined and common of units – a couple. It’s as though once one is part of a couple, one can no longer be their individual selves, at least, in the eyes of society, which is just so wrong.
Yes, being in a couple means that you take care of each other and are there for the other person in tough times. Yes, it means that you share both joyous moments and bad ones, you share your experiences and your little everyday moments. Does this mean that you’re no longer yourself and that your life is now over? Of course not. Not if the relationship is a healthy one, that is. Yes, you are allowed to feel happier just because there’s another person in the room who knows what you’re all about – and the most amazing thing is that although you might say that being with that person heightens your perception of life, you’re still totally complete and whole as an individual without them as well!
Having strong and intense emotions for one particular person doesn’t mean that you let go of your own self and your own life. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have your independence. You’re not exchanging the life you’ve built for yourself for a life where you have to sacrifice yourself implicitly for another all the time. A balanced relationship means both giving and taking. Yes, a relationship requires compromise, but so does living in a civilised society after all. No man or woman is an island and we must respect this, whether we’re taken or single.
The right relationship will not make you feel stifled and stressed out, as though you’re walking on eggshells or aren’t entitled to your own personal interests or choices, but it will, in fact, oppose that. The only choice you shouldn’t have to make in any kind of emotional bond is the choice between yourself and the relationship itself. If you realise that a person, or circumstances, are stressing and forcing you to make that choice, that fact in itself will show you the type of relationship it is. And it is at that point that you have the chance to ask yourself what you really want.