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An Independent Girl’s Guide to Relationships

Lifestyle

An Independent Girl’s Guide to Relationships

Maintaining independence while trying to foster a healthy relationship has been a challenge that independent folks have been facing forever! The ultimate independent woman’s dilemma: how do I stay true to who I am and meet my autonomous needs without alienating my partner? This dilemma isn’t just reserved for romantic/sexual partnerships; all relationships require the juggling of the individual’s needs and the needs of the couple (friends, family, sexual partners).  From the perspective of one independent woman to another, I think there are four ideas to keep in mind as you try and navigate a committed relationship while also not losing sight of yourself: boundary setting, communication, self-awareness, and vulnerability.

Boundary Setting

First and foremost you have to know how to set reasonable boundaries for yourself. Boundaries help keep your sanity, especially in the honeymoon phase of a relationship when you and your partner are practically one person. Setting boundaries can be challenging, but for independent ladies, they are necessary to not lose sight of your goals and interests while dating someone. Set some rules, only see your partner three times a week so you have a few nights during the week to just hang out and binge Netflix or go to the new barre class you wanted to check out. Or if you live with your partner, take some time in the bedroom to meditate or do yoga while your partner reads in the living room. Intentionally creating space apart will make you and your partner enjoy the time you do have together even more.

Communication (Leads to Compromise)

Good boundary setting means you need good communication to set those boundaries. As independent ladies, sometimes voicing our needs can come across as selfish or dismissive of our partner, so being able to appropriately talk to our partners about what we need (or don’t need) from them and why is critical to a successful relationship. Communication leads to compromise, so long as your partner can meet you half way too.  If you both are a good match, your partner will be able to hear your concerns, like your requests to spend more time with your girlfriends because you are missing the girl’s nights you used to have; and they should be able to work with you. Having good communication skills doesn’t just mean you share your opinions and needs in a healthy way; you have to listen to your partner and hear what their needs are too. It’s when you continuously feel that your needs and your partner’s needs are not compatible that there may be a problem.

Self-Awareness

Most independent ladies already are very self-aware, that’s part of what makes them independent. Knowing who you are, what you want out of life, and how to get there is what independent folks are usually all about. It’s about how you utilize your self-awareness though that matters in your relationship. Listening to yourself and your intuition is important. If you start noticing some discomfort within yourself when your new partner of only a few weeks already has a change of clothes and toothbrush at your place, or is asking to come out to your weekly girls nights, use that self-awareness to reevaluate the situation. Clearly your gut is saying, “Whoa wait a minute, get your own friends, give me time to myself!,” and that little red flag needs to be listened to.

Vulnerability

Independent ladies, we are all about doing for ourselves, right? For an independent person who prides herself on her self-sufficiency, self-reliance and strength, vulnerability can be really scary. Being vulnerable with your partner means being able to lean on them for support, cry on their shoulder, or ask them for help (even when maybe we think we don’t need it). These are all things that independent people can have a tough time doing, but we have to try! Vulnerability is so necessary in a relationship; if you can’t give yourself or even parts of yourself to your partner than why are you in a relationship? It is okay to let yourself need your partner every once in a while and still be independent. Showing your partner that you need them could bring you both closer together. Let your partner take care of you when you’re sick, or pick you up from the airport instead of calling a cab. Those little moments of vulnerability, little moments of “I need you” don’t make you any less independent, they make you stronger.

Unfortunately, sometimes despite our best intentions to set good boundaries, be a good communicator, listen to our guts, or be vulnerable relationships can still fail, and that’s okay.  Qualities like independence, strength, confidence, and ambition are not qualities that deserve to be sacrificed in a relationship, new or old. If your partner isn’t someone that can support your goals (or at the very least understand that you need space from them sometimes), but rather is someone that wants to monopolize your time maybe they aren’t the right partner for you.

Hopefully though, by keeping at least some of these things in mind you may find that managing your time, your needs, and your partner’s needs is easier to do. There are ways to be an ass-kicking independent lady, accomplishing your goals, nourishing your own hobbies and friendships while absolutely loving your partner and not making them feel like a burden to you and your awesomeness!


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Nicole Nelson

A queer, non-monogamous, vegetarian, feminist. Nicole is currently a practicing clinical social worker doing family therapy with a focus on couples therapy and LGBTQ issues. Nicole has worked in the fields of gender and sexuality for the past four years through her academic career and started out in the field at the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Rhode Island. Nicole is also a part of the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Coalition in Boston, MA. She continues to grapple with sexuality goodness through her outreach and freelance work.

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