It's wonderful to lose yourself in your loved one but how healthy is it for your long-term plans to stay exclusive? Discover how to balance independence with involvement and make your relationship stronger.

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How to maintain independence in your relationship

It's wonderful to lose yourself in your loved one but how healthy is it for your long-term plans to stay exclusive? Discover how to balance independence with involvement and make your relationship stronger.

Why independence is a good thing

Be independent and you'll live a richer life. Why? Because you'll not always be thinking about your every move to make sure he's there to hold your hand. And by not always mentally editing your actions, thoughts and feelings to make sure he approves, you'll have more inner confidence too.

You'll also have a better relationship because no one wants a clingy, dependent mate. They want a partner with their own ideas, their own passions, their own life; someone who stays because they care, not because they're scared of being alone. The bottom line is that while too much is a bad sign, some interdependence is vital in love.

How to stay independent

Remember who you were
Don't drop the friends, hobbies or lifestyle you had at the start of the relationship in order to fit in with your man. If he doesn't share these, there's no need to abandon them; if they fulfill you, keep them in your life.

Be more self-reliant
Don't ask your man to do things you're unsure about, whether it be changing a plug, calling room service or challenging a stroppy waiter. Bite the bullet, and even if you fall flat the first time, it will reinforce your idea of yourself, and his idea of you, as an effective and independent woman.

Project yourself as independent
When with others, make an effort to say 'I' instead of 'we'. Offer your own point of view rather than letting him speak for both of you. Fix work and social arrangements without always checking back with him first.

Keep developing
Do things you find emotionally or physically challenging. Why not try bungee jumping, public speaking or even a fire walk? Building your confidence this way will reinforce the idea that you can cope even in a crisis, and that you don't need your partner to rescue you on a daily basis.

Take breaks
It's great to be together but 24/7 bonding creates dependence. At least twice a year, take a weekend away, either with friends or on your own, to gain a fresh view that you can share when you reunite.

Watch for deeper dependency signals
If you need constant reassurance, let him make every decision, feel your world would collapse if he left, then it's possible that your dependency may be rooted in childhood problems.

What if he wants you to cling?

Just sometimes, a partner may be so insecure in themselves that he or she actively wants a dependent mate because that makes them feel needed, important and in control. Try giving them security in other ways, by stressing how much you value and love them but insist on developing your own individuality. If you're always compromising yourself by being with a partner, you may have to make a difficult choice, and let him or her go.

Final hint

Start asserting your independence today by thinking of something you'd really like to do and suggest it to your partner. If he's up for it, you've taken the lead. If he's not keen, then give him a big smile and simply do it by yourself. But most importantly, have a great time!


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