When we enter a love-partnership, it’s easy to become obsessed with this newly obtained “we.” The idea of total unity is romantic, inclusive, comforting, and appealing, and allows us to feel fulfilled in that “other half” kind of mentality. But sometimes this mentality gets taken too far, and that’s when it becomes dangerous.
Of course, we’re not in any real physical peril—by dangerous, we mean it can set us up for failures within the relationship. A too-heavy reliance on the “we” aspect of a relationship negates the fact that there are two separate people, who have lived completely different lives and experiences that shape who they are today.
The separateness of two people is what makes the relationship beautiful, not the conformity. We don’t fall in love with someone only for them to lose sight of themselves and become exactly like ourselves. We fall in love with someone because of who they are, how they interact, how they react, how they handle situations, and how they choose to love and support us.
Because of that, we learn from each other. We don’t learn to imitate, however. We learn to fill our own lapses of judgement, so that we can gain from their lived experiences and in turn, gain our own experiences of that. It’s important to embrace the idea of individuality in a relationship to respect boundaries, and honor the other person.
It’s also important to note that two different people are constantly evolving and processing situations and experiences differently—yes, we can go through something alongside our partner and experience it differently, because we are formed differently throughout our lives prior to knowing one another. Because of this, we are all constantly growing and changing, even if marginally.
The result of this constant growth and evolution means that we can never fully know someone. We don’t get to know someone so completely in the first few years of love and then boom; done. We know them through and through and that’s that. No. Rather, a partnership is a lifelong commitment to continuing to get to know someone.
This means you can develop new hobbies or creative endeavors that don’t involve or interest your partner, and it doesn’t have to mean you’re “growing apart.” The beauty of embracing your individual selves is that you don’t weigh down the relationship with expectations to always be on the same page. If not making waves is the continual consensus, one of the partners is making more compromises—that’s just a fact.
The common denominator of an enduring relationship is one that embraces individuality, and doesn’t expect fundamental change from either partner. Of course, rely on flexibility, strength in communication, and the ability to develop new skills when it comes to conflict and reactivity, but the core of an individual should never be expected to change in order to make a relationship work.
You can grow, separately, together. That’s the beauty of embracing your individuality in love, and it holds the power to last.