One Plus One Equals Two – Maintaining Individuality in Your Relationship

Being a part of a couple means having someone that you can count on in hard times as well as someone with what to share the good times. While relying on your partner for support and friendship is a positive aspect of a healthy relationship, sometimes the relationship can surpass healthy levels and become suffocating. A healthy relationship is one in which both individuals are able to think in terms of "me" as well as "we."

Fostering a healthy sense of identity helps you feel more fulfilled as an individual which, in turn, will help you feel more fulfilled in your relationship. By having creative or active outlets outside of you relationship, you will not be relying solely on your relationship to define who you are. As such, you will be less likely to blame the relationship if you become restless with any aspect of your life. Instead, you will be more likely to look for different hobbies to help you feel more fulfilled.

Maintaining individuality allows each person in a couple to grow and continue to contribute to making a healthy relationship. Without growing as individuals, couples find that they no longer learn from each other because they are always experiencing things together.

Ways to spend time apart without growing apart include:
* Continuing with hobbies you had before the relationship.
* Start a new hobby or take a class.
* Having regular, bi-weekly or monthly, girls or boys only outings.

While spending time apart to nurture your individuality is important to a healthy relationship, you need to be careful that you do not spend too much time apart. If you and your partner are going out separately each week, you are likely spending too much time apart which is just a detrimental to a healthy relationship. Finding a balance between alone time and together time is key.

Also, it is important to limit your individual hobbies to things that do not cross any lines in the relationship. If the regular boys 'nights become weekly trips to the strip club or if your girls' nights out become a competition to see who gets more drinks at the bar, chances are you are not working towards fostering a healthy relationship.

Spending time apart from your partner builds a healthy relationship by giving you more to talk about when you are together. If you would not discuss with your partner the activities you are participating in during your "me time," they are not the type of nurturing activities that will lead to a long-term, healthy relationship.

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