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What does it mean to be “independent” and be in a relationship?

Danny!Danny! Deactivated Posts: 560 Incredible Poster
We tend to accept that being “dependent” on a partner is a bad thing – we need to be able to look after ourselves, have things other than our relationship that are meaningful to us, and be able to carry on if things don’t work out.

But then knowing that someone is there for you, building a life and social connections together, and trusting that you can rely on someone can be some of the most important and meaningful things in a relationship.

Both sides are important, but they can often conflict with other. With a limited amount of free time, there will always be conflicts between doing things for yourself, for your partner, and for you as a couple. And how do you make sure you support each other without leaning too heavily? And make a commitment to someone while also understanding this might not be forever?

So, I wondered what being independent and being in a partnership mean to you? Have you found your own balance? Or are there particular things that you struggle with?


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    Danny!Danny! Deactivated Posts: 560 Incredible Poster
    A couple of examples might make this one clearer:

    1) what do you do if your partner's been busy for a few weeks and has a first free day at the weekend, but that's the day you've been looking forward to that your close friends are going out without partners?

    2) if you love someone and want to be with them, does a part of you retain an awareness that you could break up, and that you would cope in the end if you did?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I guess it all depends on the circumstances.

    Looking at your examples:

    1) If your partner is then free all weekend and you've got plans with friends for one day, then I'd probably stick with the plans for the Saturday and spend time with partner on Sunday.

    2) There's always a chance of breaking up, and depending on what point your relationship is at depends on what the chance of that is. Personally, I will always be my own person. I'm reaching the point of 'us' being a big part of my life, and my decision making - but I'd never do everything completely focussed around my partner. We both make compromises, and if we were to split up then the consequences of some of those decisions that might have been different if we were single is something we'd both have to live with. That said, our relationship also needs to be able to handle the consequences of decisions we made before we got together, and in the early stage of our relationship.

    To me, you can't predict how life will turn out - and you need to make decisions based on the relevant factors in your life at the time. A common one is local boyfriend/girlfriend vs. going away to uni. For some couples, the long distance relationship can work very well, for others it won't work at all, and for others the relationship will naturally come to and end through the people growing up and growing apart. I'd strongly advise anyone against making their choice of university solely based on proximity to a boy/girlfriend, but equally if that relationship is a significant feature in your life then it should be one factor that you consider - along with all of the others. In a very similar way, if someone was really into a particular hobby I'd advise against them chosing a university based solely on which has the best facilities for that but it's a factor that you take into consideration.

    When I chose to take my last job, it meant moving away from the area that my relatively new partner lived in. At the time it was early days and while things were going well there was a reasonable amount of uncertainty as to what would happen to our relationship in general and what impact me moving away would have on it. As part of making that decision I looked at the big picture and considered a range of factors: the future of our relationship, my career development, the potential of settling down somewhere rather than moving again, contact with my family, contact with my old friends, social life opportunities, personal preference for the different locations etc. In the end, I decided to take the job and move away, knowing that it would make some things more difficult and others easier. I've recently changed my working conditions quite significantly, and he's going to do the same shortly. So 8 months down the line, the conversation we had about doing that (or saying no) was a different one to when I moved away, because our lives are much more closely intertwined and we're generally working on the 'us' concept with a long term view. There are pro's and con's of the new working arrangements and a lot of uncertainty - so we've set some ground rules and we're going to see how it goes, but this time around if it's making things more difficult overall, or certain things particularly difficult then us being able to spend time together is likely to come above the career development opportunities.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Looking at your first point I think I'd agree with scary and stick with the plans to see friends and spend time with partner the first chance after that.

    I'm single but looking back at the relationship my ex and I shared, I do want to make a few points.

    I feel like the most important thing is to be yourself. Everyone is their own person and that's how they should stay. There are many people in the world that try and change things about their partner to suit themselves, like how you dress or who you hang out with. To me, being independent in a partnership means being who you are, wearing you want, spending time with who you want, having interests and dreams for yourself that your partner allows. Same goes for the other way around too, you have to accept and love your partner (and everything about them) just as though you'd want them to accept and love you.

    I think another important one to me is keeping some things to yourself (if you want to). This may not relate to my other point but yes, I think it's okay to not want to share every single thing. Of course if you want to then you're certainly more than welcome to tell your partner everything but again, looking back on the relationship, I found that keeping certain things from my ex did give me some form of independence. I'm not saying lie or keep something massive that you shouldn't from them, I mean little things that they don't need to know there and then. I guess I'm seeing it as though it gives you more of a hold over certain things in your life. It's really hard to explain what's in my head.

    My ex brought most money in and I took care of the kids/did most of the housework. I did like that arrangement, it gave me so much independence all at once and I had to grow up a lot but everyone is different and that's okay.

    I may have completely misunderstood the meaning of this thread so apologies if this is just unrelated gibberish!
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    While I definitely agree with the not changing everything about yourself just to fit in with a partner - there are some changes that are probably to be expected and I would be surprised to see nothing change. (Not suggesting that's what you were implying).

    In a good relationship, I think you bring out the best in each other. I get occasional gentle nudges along the lines of are you really planning on going 'there', wearing 'that' or dealing with 'such and such' in that way. It's not a forced change, but it's an outside perspective on life and makes me think about things differently. The response varies.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You make a good point and I agree, kind of like an opinion. I think with many people though it becomes less of that and more of an expectation. Your partner can definitely give his opinion on things and share their thoughts, that's healthy to have in a relationship but ultimately the decision is yours. It's when your partner starts to judge or get moody because of a decision you've made, that's when you lose independence. Because it started off as their opinion, you start to judge the decision you've made yourself and change that even though it then suits them more.
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