I’ve always been a pretty independent person. More so than that – I’ve always been really good at enjoying my own company. This sounds simple – but I’ve realised over time that it isn’t the case for everyone. Whilst I can keep myself fully entertained on a laptop in a comfy room that has wifi, I’ve known people that simply to do not how to survive if they’re alone…
Before I met my boyfriend, I never really understood how people in relationships could spend so much time with eachother. I’d look at my friends around me and wonder how they did it, or wonder how it seemed to me that they had lost so much independence. Then, I met my boyfriend. And suddenly… I got it. The first 6 months of our relationship, my life was pretty much the Beyonce and Jay Z song: “me and my boyfriend.” Whilst I would never purposely ditch friends, I wasn’t reaching a hand out and making an effort. But, I never realised that this was a problem…. until that first summer of our relationship, where my boyfriend went away on a 2 week holiday. Sounds like nothing – right? What is 2 weeks versus 19 years of independence and not giving any f*cks?
Well, the morning he left, I kid you not – I woke up in what felt like physical pain. It felt like my heart was actually hurting… how was this possible? At the time I was interning and living with three other girls who were also all interning and, by coincidence, every single one of us was in a relationship. This just brought in even more pain as seeing them with their other halves would always remind me of how much I missed my boyfriend. The first weekend after my boyfriend had left, I went to the club, I met up with some friends for lunch, and I also went home to see my family. I was doing anything and everything to keep myself constantly surrounded by other people as it took my mind off of the fact that I was finding it hard to be alone. When I was alone? I would sleep. I had nothing more valuable to do with myself than sleep and hope the time would pass by quicker.
Of course, I realised that this was a serious issue – how did I go from fierce independence to a 20-year old shriveled up in bed because my boyfriend was on holiday for a total of 14 days!?!
Losing independence in a relationship is easy – you get so used to spending so much time with someone else that you won’t even realise you’re spiraling into a dangerous place. In a healthy relationship – you should each have your own hustle, and be force on your own, as well as together.
Take things slow…
I am all for taking things slow. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years now; we met in uni and we’re both now grads in our early twenties – this warrants a question from many: “when are you going to move in with eachother?!” Everyone’s relationship is different – some people take big steps are two weeks, some do after two years. Take things slow and work on building your best life whilst you’re young before you rush into being an old married couple.
…And remember how good it can feel to have “me” time!
Anyone who can relate to my point on independence will know how good it feels at times to just be alone. Sometimes there’s nothing I want more than to just spend time on my own, binge watching YouTube videos and reading blogs. I think it’s human nature to need some time to ourselves – even if I think about my parents who hit their 25 year wedding anniversary this year – sure they spend a lot of time together, they live together after all; but even within the house they spend a good amount of time apart.
Make sure you have your own identity outside of the relationship
I think one thing I struggled with when I first started going out with my boyfriend was what felt like a loss of my own identity. My boyfriend has a big personality – he’s fiercely hard working and so driven for success. I started to wonder what my place was in this world and what I could bring to the table. Over time, my confidence built, and now me and my boyfriend definitely have clear identities and goals outside of us being together. Whilst I can sit and spend hours thinking about how to grow my brand and blog, he can sit and spend hours thinking about how to beat the market. Then at the end of all of it, we can come together and scribble down some business ideas together (or binge watch Power).
And always be mindful of slipping into old ways
I can’t imagine myself feeling heart burns again because my boyfriend is away for 2 weeks – I think after three years we’re definitely past that stage. But again, it’s always important to be mindful that you don’t slip back into a realm of pure dependence in your other half. I have still found myself doing this at times and have always had to slap sense back into myself. For example, my boyfriend and I spend most weekends together, whilst we may depart for separate plans, we typically come back together over the course of the weekend. There was one weekend recently where my boyfriend was busy for the entire day of Sunday and I just found myself in bed sleeping alone for hours on a sunny day as I was just so bored. When I realised what I was doing I called up a friend, and a few hours later we were gossiping at her place over some burgers. Independence is something that is so important throughout life and nothing you ever want to disappear in a relationship.
Enjoy it! I think being in a relationship is a great thing just with regards to personal growth – you learn to be more compassionate, you get a partner in crime and one thing I actually find the most interesting is how much you grow together. Since I’ve been with my boyfriend – our lives have changed a lot. We’ve experienced four flats together, four holidays, 6 birthdays, three Valentine’s days – a number of ups, downs, family drama, friend drama and the list in goes on! We’re completely different people now from when we first met which I think is one of the most interesting things about being together.