Dating and Relationship Advice

Romcoms tell us that the best romantic relationships are between people who are inseparable. Two individuals immediately fall in love and spend all their time together from that point onward.

These couples wake up, eat breakfast, and commute to work together (and they just so happen to work at the same place but in different departments).

That's a tough expectation for sure. For my partner and I, it's impossible to fulfill. But that doesn't bother us.

My partner and I often talk about the preservation of individuality in our relationship. We both agree that it's important to have our own interests and time away from each other. We're two years in, but still maintain lives that are separate from the other person.

Our vision of independence is subject to change as we grow and mature, both individually and within the relationship. But so far, we've been able to secure our own space within the relationship, without sacrificing any aspect of togetherness.

Here are some strategies we use to preserve individuality and create space in a relationship:

Find your own hobby

It's fun to try out new things with a partner. It's also fun to show them what you like to do. My partner and I have found activities we both like to do together, like playing pool or reading. But at the same time, there are things I like to do that I know my partner will never be interested in, and vice versa. For example: my partner loves video games. Sometimes he sends me detailed explanations of video game storylines and character attributes. I indulge him because it's something he's interested in and I like to see him happy and excited. But he knows I'm not nearly as into the discussion as he is, and that's okay.

Honor traditions with your friends and family

Perhaps it's a birthday dinner or celebration that you have with your family every year. If you're in a relationship, you shouldn't drop traditions like that unless you want to. My partner's family has parties for big occasions like Christmas. And while I've been invited to these, my partner is likely to be there even if I'm not.

Spend time with friends and make plans

You can be in a relationship and still have time for your friends. Hang out with them on your own. You can invite your partner but that's not a requirement.

Talk about it

Nobody can read minds, so if you're itching for more time to yourself, tell your partner. Explain to them that it's not that you want to spend less time with them, but that you'd like to spend more time with yourself. Choosing this does not mean you love your partner any less.

Create your own space at home

If you live with your partner, pick an area of the home to call yours. It can be a room or a corner or anything in between. You can tell your partner that when you're in that space, it means you are trying to take time for yourself and would appreciate if they were respectful of that.