Maintaining individuality in a relationship takes transparent communication and a deep understanding of what each person needs to thrive as their own unique and complex identity. As we grow into ourselves and maneuver relationships of all kinds we are challenged with maintaining individuality within who we are.
When I was younger I never saw myself as the “Netflix and chill” type. I was a busy bee always out on the town (probably too often) but, as I get older, I find my values changing drastically—especially as I’m now in a long term relationship. I see these shifts in how I view myself as an individual and what I need to bring into my life to encourage personal growth outside of my time with my partner.
There is no doubt that in a long term relationship, solo identity becomes a little more blurred but the challenge is, of course, growing with partner together yet also as two singular souls. Once in a long term relationship, there is a delicate balance and dance that must be learned in prioritizing what keeps doing the things love while also honoring what partner needs.
Ways To Honor Individuality
Below are four tangible practices my partner and I have implemented in our relationship that have withstood the test of time in supporting our own identities.
Personal projects. I have found it extremely important in my relationship to maintain personal projects. This can mean hobbies or entrepreneurial pursuits—giving heart to something other than sweetheart creates a healthy balance of honoring own dreams. If both of are setting goals and scheduling time to work on projects, this also creates an environment of support for each other and sets a foundation of encouragement.
Set own goals. My partner and I love to talk about our future and we both have a clear understanding of the goals we share. However, maintaining personal goals is just as important. This can range from financial goals, travel goals, educational goals, fitness goals, etc.
Solo socializing. My partner and I are both social people and love to go out together, and we are still working on finding our solo socializing balance within our relationship. We make an effort to find social gatherings that we can attend alone. Solo socializing allows for our own personal network to blossom and again, helps to advance our own goals. We’ve found that this goes for family time as well. If are in a long term relationship, most likely holidays are now spent with extended families from both sides. However, it is really meaningful to make time for one-on-one trips to visit own family or have dinner with a close family member without other half.
Vacation alone. There have been two notably large trips that I have taken since being in my five year relationship with my now husband. The first was a 14-day solo backpacking trip around London and Scotland that was so incredibly liberating. I also spent 21 days in the desert of California receiving my 200-hour teacher training certification. During both of these trips, we got to explore new ways of communicating along with developing a deeper sense of trust. Not everyone has the desire to travel alone and I definitely enjoy it more with a companion, but being able to just get away with, yourself and well, yourself, feels like a chance to re-connect with soul in a completely different way. Allowing for this kind of freedom in the relationship creates a deeper connection and strength for both and partner to experience.
Every relationship is different, and everyone has their own needs in aiding in their personal growth and satisfaction in a relationship and as an individual. However, implementing these simple habitual shifts can create a stable foundation of fulfillment and comfort in a long term relationship.