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How Maintaining Individuality Can Lead to a Long-Lasting Relationship

In the world of modern relationships, the idea of maintaining individuality within a partnership may seem counterintuitive. After all, aren’t relationships about becoming one, sharing everything, and losing yourself in the other person? 

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you may know that my answer will be a resounding “no.” While there is undeniable beauty when two people merge their lives in constructive ways, the key to a long-lasting, healthy relationship lies in finding a balance between deep connection and the preservation and nurturing of your individual identity. 

Since you can already find countless posts here on the importance of staying connected, in this post, we’re going to focus on why maintaining your individuality in a relationship matters.


Individuality: The Secret to Building a Love That Stands the Test of Time

When you actively cultivate your sense of self as an individual, how does this practice benefit your relationship? The list of benefits is actually quite long.


Fosters Self-Growth

Personal growth is an ongoing journey, and it doesn’t stop when you enter a relationship. In fact, being in a supportive partnership can (and, ideally, should) enhance your personal development. Maintaining individuality means defining and pursuing your passions and setting specific goals. It also encompasses allowing some space for yourself to evolve as a person. 

And here’s the kicker: this self-growth not only benefits your personal happiness – it also enriches the relationship as you bring new experiences, perspectives, and skills to the mix.


Enhances Communication

Healthy communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. When two individuals maintain their unique identities, it is easier for each person to define their own voice, feelings, and where they stand on issues. This clarity helps foster open and honest communication. Ideally, each person’s thoughts, feelings, and desires can be expressed without fear of judgment, creating a safe space for dialogue and problem-solving.


Prevents Codependency

Over time, some relationships can become codependent, where both partners rely heavily on each other for emotional support, self-esteem, and even decision-making. To be clear, it is normal, healthy, and necessary to have some reliance on each other in a relationship. You cross the line into codependency when you reach a level of entanglement that prevents you from having separate experiences, and you cling to dysfunctional beliefs like “I can’t feel happy unless my partner is also happy.”

Making an effort to cultivate your own individuality helps avoid this trap. It ensures that both partners have their own social support systems, interests, and self-worth, reducing the risk of overreliance on the relationship for validation.


Keeps the Romance Alive

The initial stages of a relationship are often characterized by excitement and novelty. However, as time goes on, the routine of daily life can diminish that spark. 

As you can probably deduce by now, when you go off and have adventures without your partner, you bring novelty back to the relationship when you return. This creates opportunities for surprise and spontaneity in your conversations and interactions, which can reignite the exciting romantic flame.


Respects Boundaries

The word “boundaries” can ring a bit negative and stringent – however, boundaries really are necessary for every type of relationship. Defining your boundaries means defining your level of comfort with different activities and expectations in a relationship. Everyone has their boundaries and limits, and respecting them is essential for a harmonious relationship. When you’re more in touch with your individuality, you are more likely to recognize and respect your own boundaries – and other’s boundaries. Generally, when boundaries are respected, people tend to feel safer, leading to more mutually satisfying and sustainable relationships.


Promotes Trust

Hand in hand with boundaries, when both partners maintain their individuality, it sends a powerful message that you can trust the other person to take care of themselves. It signifies that each person has faith in the other’s ability to handle their own life, make decisions, and be responsible. Yes, you will still check in with each other, because you care and want to know each other – but greater trust fosters a sense of security within the relationship so that you don’t need to anxiously check what the other person is doing.


Reduces Resentment

Over time, sacrificing your individuality for the sake of a relationship can lead to a build-up of resentment, especially if the sacrifice doesn’t feel reciprocal. Unmet personal needs and desires can cause emotional goodwill to lag into the red, creating friction and unhappiness. When you feel the license to cultivate your life outside of the relationship, you put less stress on your partner to meet all of your needs (which is an impossible expectation anyway). 


Cultivate Individuality for Yourself and Your Relationship

At its heart, maintaining individuality within a relationship is not about keeping secrets or creating distance. Rather, it’s about nurturing your own identity while intentionally sharing your life with someone else. It’s about finding the delicate balance between “we” and “I.” By doing so, you create a foundation for a long-lasting relationship that thrives based on your personal growth, open communication, trust, and mutual respect. 

So don’t be afraid to unabashedly be yourself – pursue your dreams and embrace your individuality within the loving arms of your partnership. It might just be the key to a relationship that stands the test of time.


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Copyright @2020 Dana Cole, LMFT