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Being independent - together


Independence is one of those things that is first earned, then gained, then maintained. As kids, we need to prove that we can handle things on our own. And as we grow and learn and make mistakes, our sense of independence is gained. I thought that was the end of the story - earned, won, case closed. But what I've noticed is that many people then start to regress and lose their independence - when they partner up. It's like all the independence we once fought for, is suddenly a huge burden that we can't wait to unload. Oh, thank god I can just rely on someone else for everything again! Which is bizarre. And so, so easy to fall into without realising it.


Having moved out of home a few months ago, and into a place with my partner, independence has been a hot topic. So what happens when two fiercely independent people move in together? A lot, apparently. Going about your own business as you normally would, whilst taking another person into consideration, yet not letting them determine how you live your life - is a bit more complicated than I had initially anticipated. It's a constant yo-yo of communicating expectations and needs. Because let's face it - it's hard to be 100% selfish when the person you love the most is in the room next to yours.

Dilemma - how to prioritise your on your own needs without neglecting your roomie.

I discovered very quickly that I will readily sacrifice my own needs. Which will in turn, make me very unhappy. And my other half is the same. Both acting on what we thought was best for the other - turned out to not be best for anyone involved. Here's the obvious point - if you both do what makes you happy - then you'll both be happy. Genius, right? But if one person does what makes them happy, and the other doesn't do what makes them happy - but what the other person wants, we start to get an imbalance. The insight here is that being selfish is actually beneficial to everyone involved. Because there's no use making yourself unhappy for somebody else's supposed benefit.

We are constantly see-sawing as we figure out how to be independent together. At the moment it involves; each doing our own dishes and laundry, but going to the gym together. Each having our own social life and group of friends, but spending a day just the two of us every week. It involves not relying on the other for transport or chauffeuring, but being there if the other needs help. Sports metaphors are not my favourite mechanism for making a point, but - it's about kicking the goals yourself and knowing that your teammate will be there to pass you the ball when you need it. I'm not sure what sport that is, but hopefully you get the idea. I think for us it's super important that neither sacrifice what matters to make the other happy. But hey, I can totally see how some couples are fully dependent on one another and that makes them happy. Or does it?


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