Could you be TOO Independent?
We've all seen the memes, heard the experts and non-experts say it, and seen the results of not doing it. It's the idea of making sure you are whole before you enter into a relationship. Recently at brunch with a group of women, 2 of whom I didn't know, my career came up. It sparked a conversation about mental health, relationships and the woes of dating. Part of the conversation focused on men feeling that some women are too independent which led to a discussion of how being a mentally healthy, responsible adult can have negative effects on dating and even though neither being independent or being whole is truly a bad thing, I felt compelled to point out the difference between the two.
When therapists refer to the importance of being whole, they are talking about dealing with baggage from your past. This could be anything from triggers from your childhood to trust issues from a previous relationship. What sometimes gets confusing is the fact that being whole also includes living a complete life, one that includes a healthy social life and happiness even when alone. It is about being so at peace in your current life that you are not looking for someone to save you from your life, but a partner who can enhance the good life you have created.
Independence is different. It may even be a bit simpler and easier to achieve. Independence means that you are living responsibly as an adult person and able to survive by yourself. As silly as this may sound, all that being independent means is you pay your bills, clean your home, take out the trash and occasionally kill annoying critters that enter your home. Basically you maintain your home and your car without too many incidents.
Why Does It Matter?
Too many women have heard the phrase "maybe you are too independent for a relationship." While I mostly disagree with this statement because being a healthy, responsible adult is never a bad thing, there are times when this can be a problem. Dating men and women have survived independently for years, but sometimes, we have a specific idea of how the person we date should fit into our lives. Often, men have no issue with their significant other taking over certain areas but this does not seem to be true for women. Women often struggle with making sure things are done right. They may ask for assistance, but if it is not done within their time frame or up to their standards, they will take over the task. This leads to women sometimes feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated. Men then feel dispensable because they do not have a true role or identity in the home. This is an example of being too independent.
What can be done?
While this may not seem like a huge issue, as relationships continue and couples begin to live separate lives, there is room for issues to creep in. It is important to learn to let go and trust that your partner will do what is necessary. This means it may not look like you want it to look but it will get done. You shouldn't be micromanaging your partner. Choose a partner that doesn't need to be micromanaged and allow them to complete tasks in their way. Also understand that not every task will hold the same importance for both partners. Instead of going in with the expectations of how you and your partner should be contributing, have a conversation about what you are both good at and what you both care about then decide tasks based on this information.
Being whole means you have created a life that you love and it can sometimes be difficult to find someone that just fits in. If both of you are whole, independent people, don't expect that person to fit perfectly in the spot you have created for them. Remember that both of you will need to compromise and put effort into being in each other's lives. Be an active participant in activities that interest your spouse and invite him to events that you enjoy.
You can be independent without being whole but you can't be whole without being independent. Being whole and/independent are wonderful and should benefit any person you end up with. As a healthy individual you should be dating the same type of person so expect as much compromise as you are willing to give them.
For further inquiries:
Check out Eboni Harris, Licensed Relationship Therapist, at eboniharris.com
Phone: (832) 384- 4445