Agreement Three: We agree to push each other and support each other in developing habits and hobbies outside of the relationship.
Partnerships are partially about closeness, and they’re incomplete without a healthy dose of independence.
Like a rubber band, the separate-ness stretches each individual to grow and change on their own, and return to the relationship enriched and ready for closeness.
This tension and relaxation is probably the hardest thing in our relationship- although on the surface it sounds really cute.
We love spending time together and genuinely enjoy each others’ company most times. If given the choice between a solo activity and doing anything together, 90% of the times we’d choose together. Sounds like we’re a great match, right? I’m not convinced or comfortable with this arrangement.
Healthy relationships consist of two well balanced individuals coming together to compliment each other.
How many of us are really well-balanced when it comes to relationships with ourselves and others? My personal experiences with ‘balance’ are very limited. I tend to default to the care-taking-people-pleaser, and completely forget to evaluate my own opinions so I can participate. In a healthy relationship, there will always be an element of compromise and assertiveness- and the important part is to bring attention to the balance to make sure one side isn’t always asserting, and the other compromising.
In our third partnership conversation, we discover a potentially toxic pattern in our dynamic, and make a solid game-plan to remedy it.
Let me tell you- we’re taking the hard way here. It’d be much easier to keep things the way they are. As a couple with an orbit-like dynamic, it takes constant attention and effort to break the cycle. Here’s how we’re getting there:
The most important part is understanding the dynamic.
Freedom isn’t actually important to Connor. It’s probably partially a product of his 6’4 bodybuilder frame and white male-ness.. He’s never had his reality threatened (at least not recently) and so, he feels pretty free all the time. Which is why it’s easy for him to expect me to interact with him on his terms.
My story isn’t so rosy- I’ve spend much of my adult life feeling trapped, beholden, and controlled. Consequently, independence and freedom are the MOST important things to me. It’s why I left my abusive ex-husband, started my own business, created a course about CHOOSING your life on purpose, and constantly alter my routine and lifestyle… I wanna be FREEEEEEEEEE.
As an empath, I feel other peoples’ feelings and energy as if they are my own, and so it’s very easy for me to get lost in a strong personality like Connor’s.
That’s why it’s doubly important for me to cultivate freedom and activity OUTSIDE of the relationship in order to maintain my sense of identity. (I even made him sign a contract about it when we started dating- you can read about it in Conversation One).
Connor can understand conceptually why it’s good for us each to have our own hobbies, time, and identities- but left to his own devices, he probably wouldn’t pursue these things.
I’m going to have to take the lead on this one, and that actually feels empowering. It will require me to stay really strong and assertive about what I need and when, and it’ll force me to hold him accountable to his side of the agreement.
To make this activity less nebulous, we’ve agreed on a specific game-plan:
Connor will pursue (at least) two hobbies at a time that don’t require my presence. For accountability, at least one of the hobbies is a recurring event that requires his attendance. He’s purchasing a guitar for his at-home hobby, and attending a weekly game-group for his event.
I am creating one non-work related project per month (for the house, the cat, myself, whatever… purely for the joy of creating. Additionally, I’ll spend two nights a week doing my own thing- no defaulting to hanging out and watching Netflix just because it’s easy and I can’t stare at work projects any longer without going cross-eyed.
Ironically, we both feel amazing when we independently pursue things- it just doesn’t come naturally.
At least for now- we’ll have to continue to push each other to pull apart, and meet in the middle afterwards.
Live Life (More) Beautifully
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