How to embrace the ‘I’ in a relationship

Image: Gettyimages
Image: Gettyimages

People should not have high expectations when going into relationships, says relationship expert Paula Quinsee. She qualifies this startling statement by explaining that it’s unhealthy to expect that your partner can fulfill or meet your every need, because they can’t.

“If you’re going into a relationship expecting that, then you’re going to be disappointed, because it’s unrealistic. Your partner can’t be on your side 24/7, you can’t be joined at the hip it’s unwholesome,” she says.

She adds that being too dependent on each other may result in you shutting off the rest of the world. For example, you lose your friends and family and you become solely focused on your relationship. “You then lose your sense of self and you lose your own identity.”

Keeping your own identity in a relationship is vital because you are also on your own journey and basing your own personal decisions on your partner will only make you unhappy, she continues.

Quinsee further highlights the importance of individualism in a relationship, quoting psychoanalyst Erich Fromm who said, “two beings become one and yet remain two.”

Being in a successful relationship does not mean you need to love doing the same activities or agree on everything. You should respect the differences that exist between you and your partner and love each other for who you are, she says.

Establishing healthy boundaries around your relationship in creating the “I” the “we” and the “ours” is vital, she maintain. “You need to consider each other’s needs but also spend time together and do things together.” 

“When you lose yourself in the relationship, you risk losing your own identity and can even become co-dependent on each other, which can lead to resentment over time, as you long for some space to just breathe and be you”, she adds.

The benefits of embracing individualism:

·      There is a healthier sense of being able to self-nurture

·      You’re able to take care of your own individual needs and happiness You’re able to make decisions for yourself instead of relying on your partner the whole time to make decisions for you

·      Independent thinking

·      Being able to take time out to connect with yourself e.g. going to the gym or meditation

·      Maintaining your support system and not focusing on only his family or friends

There’s a possibility that one partner resorts manipulation by dictating behaviour or by demanding to know where the other person is going to, what they can wear, who they can see and what they can’t do.

“Once he or she starts dictating behaviour, it can lead to mental and emotional abuse and that’s unhealthy in a relationship.”

In order for couples to embrace one another’s individuality, they need to institute a support system that works for both parties. 

“If one partner is really determined on climbing the corporate ladder, and that means they need to study to get further in their career, then their partner can support them.

They need to understand that they’re looking to prove themselves, then collectively, the relationship will benefit because the one party will feel happier that they’re being supported and it will also be financially beneficial down the line”, she concludes.






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