I used to think that losing your independence was a symptom of a bad partner. I thought that I would be fine as long as I was with someone who wasn’t controlling, or the jealous type. I believed that my independence hinged on someone else’s behavior; I would only lose myself if someone else wanted me to be lost.
Before my current relationship I was incredibly independent. I went to movies, restaurants, and concerts by myself without a second thought. I traveled alone, ate alone, hiked alone, and shopped alone. But my relationship changed things. I didn’t want to be alone as much. Being with someone else, especially someone who was so amazing, was much better than being alone. Why do something by yourself when you can double the fun with someone else? It seemed only logical: two is greater than one.
Although my relationship correlates with my decreasing independence, it is not causative. While I do know that some people lose their independence because of a controlling or jealous partner, I cannot blame this one on my boyfriend. He is good and loving and kind. He supports me, and encourages me to try things on my own, to be my own person. But if I can’t blame him, what’s going on? What happened to me? Why did I start believing that time by myself wasn’t as valuable as time with him?
Then it hit me. Before, my alone time wasn’t really a choice. I was single, and not really looking, so I didn’t have any options. It was a forced independence. When I entered a relationship, all of a sudden I had a choice, and over and over again I chose someone else. Turns out, choosing independence is hard. Choosing me is tough.
Women are continuously told that confidence and independence are sexy traits. We all know nobody likes a clingy girlfriend. But how can we be expected to be so confident and independent when we live in a society that teaches us to hate our bodies? If we are conditioned to hate ourselves, how can we choose ourselves?
My struggle with my independence is really about self-love. It is about realizing that hanging out with myself is fun, amazing, and worthwhile because I am fun, amazing, and worthwhile. It is about hanging out with myself because I love myself, and not because I know being independent is a turn-on.
I think for me, as well as for anyone else who feels like they are losing their independence, it is important to actively choose you every now and then. To not extend the invite. To go it alone. To be a lone wolf. Independent actions can be a powerful method of self-care, and a recognition of your self-worth. Remember: you are not hanging out by yourself, but with yourself, and you are pretty awesome company.