Maintaining Autonomy in a Relationship
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Maintaining Autonomy in a Relationship

They may be your other half, but you need to focus on your half, too.

Maintaining Autonomy in a Relationship
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I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about three years now. Our relationship, like all, has had its highs and lows. The highs have been absolutely blissful, and the lows have been downright heart-wrenching. Nevertheless, I wouldn't trade life by his side for the world. He's my best friend, my confidante, and my life partner all in one.

When we first started dating, we were inseparable. We were attending the same university, and basically did everything together. Him and I slept in the same bed each night, we'd take trips to the caf for meals together, we'd do schoolwork together in the library, and all in all spent every waking (and sleeping) moment together. Call it "the honeymoon phase".

As our relationship progressed, and I spent more and more time with him, I noticed myself slowly drifting from my friends. Prior to us dating, I spent many of my weekends grabbing food, going out to the bars, and spending quality time with my girlfriends. Every girl needs her girl time, and when that quality time began dwindling, I began to feel as if something was missing from my life.

This realization made me see that much more was missing from my life since our relationship began. I wasn't working out as much, I was calling my family and friends back home less and less, and his roommates were beginning to call me their other roommate. I barely spent any time in my own apartment with my own roommates, and my life was slowly but surely revolving around him and our relationship. I had never felt less like myself.

It took me a while to learn, but what we both needed was independence. That is, we needed time away from one another. In any relationship, people need time to themselves. They need space to be who they are, and to do the things they're passionate about, or they can very quick lose themselves. I started giving him his space, and he did the same for me. I had fallen in love with him, but I also needed to maintain the love I had for myself.

I used to call my boyfriend my other half, but I don't anymore. I don't need another half, for I make myself whole. Through all my passions, my hobbies, and everything in between, I am completely and totally whole, all by myself. He's simply a lovely blessing in my life. When I began looking at our relationship in this light, everything changed. I realized I did not need to be with him sixteen of the twenty-four hours of the day for our relationship to thrive. I support his autonomy, and he supports mine.

Here we are, three years later, and doing long distance, as I am attending graduate school in Wisconsin, while he works his new job in New York. Maintaining my autonomy is something I still work on, but him being across the country certainly makes it easier. Don't get me wrong, I miss him like crazy any time I'm not with him, but I am comfortable and content with the life I'm living, and I know he is too. Our relationship is stronger than it's ever been. Besides, time apart makes the moments we spend together all the more special. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder.

Bottom line: it is possible to love another fully without sacrificing your autonomy. I loved my family, my friends, my routines, and who I am long before I met my boyfriend, and that doesn't have to change with a committed relationship. Your significant other should add to your life, not take away from it. Always remember, you don't need another half to make yourself whole, you do that all on your own.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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