Maintaining a Sense of Self within Relationships

Jun 15, 2013 by

          Speaking of one of my lovely past clubbing partners in crime, she said something that struck me while we were out yesterday evening. Likely as a result of her personal experience, she told me in a matter-of-fact way that when I have a boyfriend, he’s going to be everything to me; nothing else will matter as much as he does. I stopped her right there. Absolutely not happening!

          I’ve made someone, specifically my best friend, my everything before. I will not make that mistake again. It is imprisoning to be a part of a package that consists of oneself and another person. I’ve been a part of that tragic “we” that makes people disappear into a duo dynamic, leaving both parties feeling undefined. It was a setback in personal growth. I was always associated with my best friend. I was not seen as Maria or Theresa or whatever whoever is reading this calls me. I was “Maria/Theresa and.” To illustrate what I mean, my received texts usually went something like this for over seven years:

          “How are you and Olivia?”

          “What are you and Olivia up to?”

          “Do you and Olivia want to go out for drinks?”

          We are separate people with separate cell phones! Leading up to my last straw with unhappiness, this really began to bother me recently. I’ve actually had people decline or reschedule plans to go out with me simply because Olivia wasn’t available to come. My packaged persona was impeding my social life, and it was my fault. Olivia and I had displayed ourselves as a two-for-one deal from the onset of our friendship. We were attached at the hip from the moment we met. As far as we were concerned, anyone who wanted to hangout with one of us would also have the assumed pleasure of hanging out with the other at the same time (no wonder I’ve never had a boyfriend). This packaged perception of us only magnified when we began living together.

          Once I decided that I was ready to be happy, I made sure that this was one of the first things that I changed. I did so by making a conscious effort not to mention Olivia in conversation as much as I used to, telling any mutual friends I made plans with that I would be the only one coming out, befriending people who didn’t know Olivia, and going to new places with new people without my +1 as a social buffer. Thinking about it now, the frequency of those types of texts has dramatically declined, which I love. For the first time since I was 15, I’m just me.

          With certainty, I believe that my reclaimed independence is the largest contributing factor to my newfound happiness, so I cherish it and I’m very protective of it. I like being my own person. I refuse to give that up for a boyfriend or anyone else. I am unimaginably happy with my life as it is, even without a boyfriend. Yes, I want one, but my relationship status does not define me or my level of happiness. I want a boyfriend as an addition to the happy life that I’m already living; I don’t want him to be my life. A boyfriend – or any other person – is not the route to personal happiness. Other people are no doubt contributors to happiness, but no single person comprises all of it.

          This mentality is why I think I’m ready for a boyfriend. I seek a healthy relationship. I want a guy who wants to be involved in my life, but is also secure enough to genuinely encourage me to live the life that I love outside of him. Furthermore, I want a guy who has his own vibrant life that I want to be a part of, but who also has aspects of his life that exist outside of me. In other words, I want us to be two separate people within a relationship; not a couple.

Happiness Tip: Don’t depend on other people to make you happy. Take responsibility for generating your own happiness.

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