Relationship Relationship Coaching Single
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For many, the best of us, and especially if we are codependents in a relationship, the concept of individuality sounds pretty foreign. They have been operating in the relationship under the ‘we’ and not ‘I’ in a healthy sense.

There is nothing wrong with being a giver in a relationship, but the problem arises when you lose your sense of self and make your partner the centre of the universe.

You may have often heard or read- “Givers must have limits, for the takers rarely do.”- Rachel Wolchin. It is a resounding quote for people in relationships who tend to put their partner’s needs above their own, make their interests their own; basically, adorn their partner’s identity as their own.

Take a look at these examples for a better understanding:

  • You cook dishes that you don’t eat but because they like them;
  • You start watching TV shows or films that your partner likes;
  • Spending time with your friends or on your hobbies is no longer your priority;
  • The worst is that you begin adopting their opinions as your own;
  • Compromising your values to make them love you more;
  • You become overly reliant on your partner for emotional validation and self-worth, to the extent that your self-esteem and confidence are directly proportional to what they think of you.

If any of it resonates with you, then you most likely have lost touch with your individuality in your relationship. These things happen so subtly and unnoticeably that you fail to even grasp all that is happening.

And no, in no way will we say that your partner makes you do this. If they do, well, then it is an entirely different situation, and you may want to refer to this article:

Surviving a Narcissistic Partner: 14 Strategies for a Healthy Relationship

Now, kindly understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong in seeking your partner’s validation or approval; it is natural for us to want to be appreciated by our partner for the little, big things we do in the relationship.


Why We Neglect Our Individuality In The Relationship

Before I delve into how you can preserve your individuality in relationships, let’s understand why people neglect their needs and forgo the importance of individuality:

Fear of Conflict or Loss: Many of us fear that asserting our needs or desires might lead to conflict or even the loss of the relationship. This fear may stem from past relationships and deep-rooted fear of abandonment.

Desire for approval: As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing wrong with seeking your partner’s approval. But basing your self-worth and self-esteem on their validation can leave you feeling deeply unfulfilled and unloved.

Low self-esteem: It is often the lack of confidence in our capabilities, acceptance of who we are and us deserving of our needs being met that leads us to lose our individuality in relationships.

Over-identification with the relationship- When you begin to identify yourself with the relationship, your desires, needs, and interests take a back seat in the relationship. The relationship becomes the definition of your identity, and you end up losing the sense of who you are.

Attachment issues: Anxiously attached partners often over-focus on their partner’s needs to secure the stability of the relationship, inadvertently losing their individuality in the relationship.

The romanticisation of self-sacrifice: TV series or movies have shaped our minds that to love is to lose oneself completely, or to love is to devote oneself to a partner. That is not a healthy way of living and loving. People who believe such notions end up losing their independence and individuality in relationships.

If you are looking to change your view of the relationship and reaffirm your individuality, here is a list of some questions that may provoke your thought process:

  • Do I have hobbies or interests that I pursue on my own, separate from my partner?
  • When was the last time I made a decision based purely on my preferences without considering my partner first?
  • Do I voice my opinions when they differ from my partner’s?
  • Have I stopped spending time with my friends or family because of the relationship?
  • Are there any parts of myself that I have suppressed since the beginning of this relationship?
  • Do I feel that my partner supports my ambitions and goals?
  • Am I dependent on my partner for my happiness and self-esteem?
  • Do I find myself agreeing with my partner to avoid conflict?
  • Do I consider what I want individually or take my partner’s needs and opinions into consideration first?
  • Am I afraid that spending time by myself or on my own will upset my partner?

Reflecting on these questions and being able to answer them honestly without worrying about right or wrong or any justification will lead you to self-awareness and having potentially important conversations.

Individuality In The Relationship

Importance Of Individuality In Relationship

Maintaining individuality in a relationship is crucial for the health and longevity of the partnership as well as the personal development of the partners. Take a look at why preserving individuality in relationships is important:

Keeps You Growing:

Imagine you are an artist, but you stop painting, singing or dancing because your partner isn’t into art. You may feel like you are keeping your partner happy by engaging in activities that they like to do, but over time, you realise that you are losing a part of yourself. Keeping in touch with your hobbies and interests is not just about fun; it is about maintaining a deep connection with yourself. It is about growing and evolving. New skills and interests keep the relationship fresh, thriving, and exciting.

Makes The Relationship More Enjoyable:

When you are happy and fulfilled in your life, you bring more positivity and joy to the relationship. Imagine this: if you spend weekends watching your partner’s favourite TV shows, to be with them, you will eventually grow resentful and wonder if your partner should also be more mindful of the shows you like to watch and then watch them with you. When we are resentful, we are not much of a pleasant person to be around. But doing things that make you happy will keep you joyful and positive.

Reduces Clinginess:

You may have grown with the idea that you have to be wherever your partner is. Because I grew up with that notion, my relationships have gone downhill. Relying too much on the partner for happiness puts a lot of pressure on the relationship and our partner. It is like expecting our partner to be our best friend, confidant, therapist, and coach, all rolled into one person, which is most certainly not possible. By having your own set of friends and interests, you spread that emotional need around, which in turn keeps your relationship smoother.

Keeps The Spark Alive: 

Have you heard that Bollywood song- Dooriyaan bhi hain zaroori? It is the perfect summation of how a little distance and a healthily detached attitude can keep the spark alive in the relationship.

Watching your partner engage in their favourite activities is not only attractive but also respectful of their individuality. How much joy will it bring you to see your partner engrossed in the painting they have been working on for days or writing that beautiful piece of poetry?

It is about respecting each other’s space and passions and finding those moments of independence attractive.

Improves Your Communication: 

Suppose you love having quiet mornings as opposed to your partner, who loves loud, early workout mornings. You can communicate it to your partner to find a happy medium. But if you give that up to appease your partner, then you will have deep resentment and frustration towards your partner.

Builds Resilience: 

Having your own life means you are equipped to handle the ups and downs that come your way. Think of it like this: If you are happy only when your partner is around, then a little distance can stir up the entire relationship. But if you find a sense of fulfillment with your work, art, friendships, and personal interests, then you have other sources of happiness, too!

Balances Power In The Relationship:

Do you remember how people of our parents’ age used to have an unbalanced relationship? Suppose only one of you has a social life, hobbies, or a career; the relationship can feel unbalanced. It is like if one person always decides where to go, what furniture to buy, what you should do on the weekends, and whether you should go meet your friends or not- it will create a relational imbalance. Maintaining individuality in a relationship will ensure a balance of power.

How To Be Independent In A Relationship

How To Be Independent In A Relationship

Now that we have understood the importance of individuality in relationships let’s see how we can learn to be independent in a relationship.

Maintain Your Hobbies And Interests:

Keep up with the activities you love without your partner. If you love yoga and your partner does not, keep going to the Yoga classes. It is important to have your passions; they keep you energised and grounded in who you are.

Spend Time With Family And Friends Without Your Partner:

Ensure that you meet your family and friends without always including your partner. Have that boys’/girls’ night out. It maintains your social relationships and gives you both space to miss each other a bit.

Set Personal Goals:

Keep working on your goals that are not directly related to the relationship. Whether it is advancing in your career, learning a new skill, or training for a game, having your own goals helps you maintain your freedom and independence.

Make Solo Plans:

It is absolutely okay to have solo trips or solo coffee dates. If you are an art enthusiast, don’t hesitate to go to the museum by yourself! It means you enjoy your own company and can make your time together even more special.

Stay Financially Independent:

This one is highly important. Maintain your personal bank account in addition to any joint accounts. Manage your own money, make your investment plans, and be involved in the financial decisions. If you wish to purchase your car one day, you and only you get to decide which model, when, and how you want to get it.

Communicate Openly And Honestly:

Maintaining individuality in a relationship or being independent does not mean you keep secrets. Always be open and honest about your plans, needs, and feelings. If you are planning to invest in some business, share it with your partner.

Respect Each Other’s Space:

Understand that being independent also means respecting your partner’s space and independence. For example, if your partner loves spending time in the workshop, respect that about them and support their passion instead of feeling neglected.

Practice Self-Care:

Indulge in self-care; take that soothing bath, go for a hike you have been waiting to go for weeks, read your favourite book or enjoy a full-body massage. Taking care of yourself shows that you value your happiness and health, which are key to a fulfilling relationship.

Keep Learning And Growing:

Always be open to learning new things and new skills. Keep yourself informed and updated about your interests and hobbies. Attend the workshops, seminars or classes that interest you. It brings new ideas and energy to the relationship.

Have Your Opinions:

Another important part of being an independent individual in relationships is having opinions. Maintain your viewpoints and share them with your partner. If watching a movie, you and your partner have differing perspectives, discuss them. Allow them into your world of thoughts and take a peek into theirs, too.

Remember, maintaining your individuality and learning to be independent in a relationship is crucial for a fulfilling and happy relationship. Independence is not about distance; it is about being your own person within the partnership.