13 Ways To Be Independent in a Relationship

Your independence is too important for you to give it up just to have a romantic partner.

But you still want a love relationship with a partner who gets you.

Good news! It is possible to have independence in a relationship that enriches you both.

You can appreciate what your partner brings to your life without losing yourself in their identity and becoming someone you no longer recognize. 

What Does It Mean to Be in An Independent Relationship?

Being independent in a relationship means making a daily, conscious commitment to honoring your own needs. After all, you can't be your best for your partner when you feel mentally, emotionally, or physically depleted.

Independence doesn't mean neglect. Nor does it imply you should put the health of the relationship on the back burner.

Instead, it means caring for yourself to the extent that it supports and reinforces your love and commitment to one another.

This type of independence requires trust, self-assurance, and wanting the best for each other. A partner who is needy, insecure, or controlling doesn't do well with this dynamic. But then, these qualities often destabilize a relationship anyway.

Is Being Independent a Good Thing in a Relationship? 

You want to know how to be your own person in a relationship — maybe because, too often, you catch yourself trying to be what you think your partner wants you to be. 

sweet couple posing for picture how to be in an independent relationship

Adult relationships involve equal partners who respect each other as such. And the best independent relationship is with someone you consider your best friend. 

This kind of partner understands why your independence is worth keeping (or reclaiming):

  • You can both appreciate what the other contributes, but
  • Your happiness and survival don’t depend on the other person.
  • Neither of you has authority/dominion over the other. 
  • Each of you can enjoy doing your own thing separately. 
  • You can enjoy each other’s company without needing it all the time.

How to be Independent in a Relationship: 13 Key Steps 

1. Remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be. 

It’s vital you know and love the person you are now. If you’re waiting for a relationship to make you worth knowing, you’re doing it wrong.

And you’re more likely to change into whomever you think your partner wants you to be. 

Take the time to describe the person you want to be. You get to choose that. Other people (including your partner) have themselves to work on. And that’s enough for anyone.

2. Remind yourself of what you want. 

No one but you can answer the following questions: 

  • What life do you want to live? 
  • What do you want more of in your life?
  • What do you want to let go of or replace with something better?

Before you immerse yourself in a love relationship, you should know what you want and what you’re willing to do to get it.

Your partner shouldn’t have to guess, neither should they expect your wants always to match their own. 

3. Set your own goals — and go after them. 

Your personal goals can certainly benefit others, but you’re the one who will decide which goals are worth your time and energy.

You are responsible for building the life you want, so you’re responsible for whether your words and actions get you any closer to that. 

You are responsible for building the life you want, so you’re responsible for whether your words and actions get you any closer to that. 

Set goals that excite you, and remember to express gratitude for the good you have in your life now. Then take action every day to build on that. 

4. Keep and/or find your own hobbies. 

Each of you needs your own hobbies and interests to pursue. You can take an interest in each other’s hobbies, but your partner shouldn’t expect you to give up your hobbies to make more room for theirs (and vice-versa). 

Each of you needs something you can enjoy on your own, without requiring the other’s validation — something that reminds you of who you are and what you’re good at. 

5. Keep and/or find your own friends. 

Never push away your friends or family members to make a partner happy.

A partner who respects you would never expect you to cancel your plans with friends or family because they bought tickets to an event (without consulting you) or because they’re jealous of the time you spend with the people who’ve always been there for you.

A true friend and loving partner doesn’t ask you to choose between them and your family or the good friends you already have. 

6. Prioritize your privacy and alone time.

You don’t have to do everything together. In fact, it’s better that you don’t. Both of you need alone time sometimes, and your partner should respect yours as much as you respect theirs. 

Both of you should respect each other’s privacy, too, which means no peeking at each other’s phones or reading each other’s journals or mail without consent. Also, neither should assume the other is okay with being seen al fresco without their saying so.

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7. Create or keep a space that’s just for you. 

You’re allowed to have a room or at least part of a room you can go to as your space.

Your partner should respect your need to have a space that has only your stuff in it — a safe haven where you can do your own thing without being guilted for it or finding your partner’s things mixed up with your own. 

If you or your partner display their own personal possessions, it’s always best to ask before touching anything or adding something of your own. 

8. Learn to recognize (and own) your emotions.

Recognizing your own emotions and learning to regulate them is essential to your happiness, whether you’re single or in a relationship.

And learning to own your emotions — rather than blaming them on your partner — is critical to a healthy relationship

No one can make you feel a certain way unless you choose to. It doesn’t mean your emotions are invalid. But you can choose to be stronger than they are.

9. Speak up when you’re angry or hurt. 

Keeping the anger and hurt to yourself will only encourage it to fester and grow. Talk to your partner when they say or do hurtful things to let them know exactly what you’re thinking and feeling. 

Your partner might disagree with your interpretation. If they explain the situation from their perspective, you might be able to reach a compromise you can both live with. 

10. Honor your core values. 

No compromise, however convenient, should violate your core values or any of your partner’s.

Know the lines you won’t cross and clarify to your partner (or would-be partner) what those lines are. 

Tell them what values you want to share with your partner; if they don’t share your core values, it’s best to know that before you invest too much. 

11. Believe in yourself, even if your partner doubts you.

If your partner doesn’t believe in you, it’s time to find a new partner. But you can’t expect them always to be the one who reminds you you’re worthy of belief.

tourist couple enjoying lunch out how to be in an independent relationship

And if their faith in you wavers, it may have more to do with them than with you. 

Believe in yourself and your abilities, even if it seems no one else does. 

12. Let your partner into your life. 

Show them who you are, and introduce them to the people who helped make you the person you are now.

Let your partner see the real you and know you consider them a worthy addition to your inner circle. 

If this is someone you can see yourself committing to for the long haul, show them who you are at your core. Trust them to love you unconditionally. 

13. Schedule regular time apart (for both your sakes). 

It might sound sketchy to outsiders if you and your partner have separate plans for a weekend.

But if you spent the greater part of the week together, there’s nothing wrong with taking a time-out so each of you can pursue your interests or spend time with your own friends or family

Every couple needs time apart on occasion to remind each other why they’re together. Give yourselves the gift of missing each other now and then.

Final thoughts

Can you be independent in a relationship?

Now that you know how to maintain your independence in a committed love relationship, what could you do differently this week to reassert yourself? 

What aspects of your life as a single person are you most determined to hold onto or to reintroduce to your life in a committed relationship?

A partner who loves you will want to see you happy and appreciate how your assertiveness helps you enjoy life more.

No one who loves you as you are would want you to forget the person they fell in love with. Do something every day to reacquaint yourself with that person.