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, your solo identity becomes a little more blurred but the challenge is, of course, growing with your 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 you doing the things you love while also honoring what your partner needs.
Ways To Honor Your 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 your heart to something other than your sweetheart creates a healthy balance of honoring your own dreams. If both of you are setting goals and scheduling time to work on your projects, this also creates an environment of support for each other and sets a foundation of encouragement.
Set your 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 you 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 your own family or have dinner with a close family member without your 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 yoga 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 you, yourself and well, yourself, feels like a chance to re-connect with your soul in a completely different way. Allowing for this kind of freedom in the relationship creates a deeper connection and strength for both you and your 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.
Courtney Jay Higgins is the Associate Editor at The Good Trade. She is also a Yoga Instructor, vegetarian, wellness and fashion enthusiast. Originally from Colorado, her soul found California when she came to get her degree in Visual Communications at the Fashion Institute Of Design & Merchandising. She has a background in telling a story through writing, creative direction and content creation. Check out her blog and Instagram for her unique perspective on the mergence of fashion and spirituality.