T Nation


Given much of the heated debates over various threads recently about control, changing one’s partner, compromise,ultimatums, time out with the boys or girls, my question is this: How important, or indeed essential, do you think independence is within a relationship? Women often complain that their men spend way too much time with “the boys” and the guys’ response to gym time (for one example) is for the women to join them there. So, if we want common interests with our partner, where does personal independence fit in to a relationship? Or does it?

Independence is vital to a relationship, but so is time together, it’s called balance. My wife and I have seperate interests and respect our differences but we also enjoy just being together, talking or just working around home. Each person needs to indulge their passions otherwise they become stifled and resentful, having said that each person also needs to compromise.

it is crucial. anybody remember the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’? no words have ever been more true to me. i NEED time to myself. i am a very independant person, self sufficient, distant even. if i cant get that time to myself, even away from ‘the boys’ i tend to get very pissy. Hynphz put it well. togetherness and independence are both vital parts of a relationship if it is to succeed.

I really struggle with this as a female and I think that it is because most females desire intimacy and closeness and we sometimes get this confused with wanting to spend every moment with our sig other. I know that the best relationships are between two people who are not joined at the hip, but who have separate lives and interests. Being in a relationship is not about being a parasite. That is not love and will only stifle both of you. You need to maintain a degree of separateness - remember that the pillars of a temple stand slightly apart. I think it was John Gray (relationship counsellor) who said that when men get close to a woman, they tend to lose a sense of self and need to have time away from their partner in order to get this sense of themself back - the rubber band syndrome. The problem arises when the female senses that their male partner needs time out and they cling to their partner preventing them from having time out, OR make the poor guys feel so bad for having time out that they become reluctant to do so and end up resenting the girlfriend/wife.

In summary, both males and females need to maintain their independance, not only for themselves, but in order to maintain a healthy relationship. There does need to be a balance though. Hope this helps!

It’s not about “independence”, it’s about balance. I’m reading a book titled “Fit to be Tied”. Great book. The chapter I just finished is all about balance, and not “losing yourself” to the relationship.

I agree with you Brider and Lisa, about balance. I personally don’t think a relationship is healthy if either party is dependant on the other. However, do you think that balance can be achieved without a certain degree of independence? By that I mean, not only self-sufficiency, but the ability to “not be joined at the hip” in everything we do?

I don’t think balance can be reached without independance. There are three parts in a realtionship, the life of one partner, the life of the other and their life together. I firmly believe this. Sure, it’s important to do things together, but by doing your own thing you have something to talk about.

I love coming home every day and hearing about his day, what he did, who he saw, even what he had for lunch. If he went out with his friends, I want to hear everything that happened; not to 'check up on him' but to enjoy it with him.

I had two relationships where we were joined at the hip. Both were great at first, but slowly spiraled down, because when you are with each other every minute of every day what do you share?

Independance does not mean stepping on your partner to prove that you don't need them, I think it means growing as a person apart from your partner so that you can bring added value back.

That of course, has to be tempered with not doing things that would hurt your partner, but I think that goes without saying.

Well said Michelle. I too like to do things apart from my husband, to the point that we have even taken separate holidays. It makes life with one another that much more interesting. I think the problem with NOT having independence is that people tend to lose all their other friends because they ONLY want to be with their partner. If and when that relationship fails, they are left with nothing. It is truly sad.

Yeah, don’t forget about your friends when in an intimate relationship. “don’t put your eggs in one basket,” or you will pay dearly. In fact, your partner is likely to respect you less if you neglect your friends, and will use your sole focus on the relationship against you…

GM – I really think that “independence” is the wrong term. You CAN’T be independent ina relationship. Everything you do effects it, and you have to be mindful of that. In my mind, you are either independent or not, there is no “certain degree” of independence, just as one can’t be “kind of” pregnant. Independence is not the same thing as keeping a sense of “self” while in a relationship.

You’re right. Bad semantics that’s all. I think we agree on this point, I just used the first word that came into my head that somehow reflected what I was trying to say–that being that even within a relationship each person needs to maintain their own “sense of self” (thanks!). But it’s more than just a “sense”–it is your own self. It’s so vital to have a life that is your own within the relationship. Otherwise it becomes old and stale too quickly.

I agree wth brider and GM, you have to independent, but at the same time become a partnership. But if I want solo time, all i have to do is go fishing.