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Being two separate people in one relationship

Author: Jackie Tasker
Published: Apr 1 2008

Relationships are important to us as social animals. We have an innate need to be loved and to love, which with the right person is an amazing, wonderful place to be.

With the wrong person, it's the exact opposite and can be an extremely damaging and unhealthy place to be.

So, how do we know if something is right for us?

There are some basic ingredients which, if they exist, are likely to result in a happy, and healthy relationship.

Being 2 Separate People in 1 Relationship

Maintaining separation seems to be something that people struggle with, as the whole concept of a relationship is a coming together of 2 people.

Often, this coming together can be translated into a need to suppress part, or parts, of ourselves in order to make a relationship work. Yes, compromise is an important part of helping a relationship to work, but through changing behaviour not changing who a person is.

Feeling whole whilst in a relationship is key to a healthy, secure attachment.

Ask yourself this question: ?Is it OK to be you?

You?ll know the answer is NO if you feel freer when your partner is not around, or you feel more restricted as a person to before you were with them.

Think about things you don?t do anymore, the friends or family that you no longer see. Yes, you'll have less time to do the things you did before, but do you do anything alone?

A healthy relationship has room for you as a separate person, and for your separate needs, as demonstrated here:

Individuals are represented here as ego states.

The first diagram shows the 2 individuals retaining all parts of themselves, with space around them to be themselves, whilst still being contained within the relationship.

The second diagram shows a symbiotic relationship, one where the 2 individuals behave as if they are one person in ego state terms.

One will tend to take the parental role, and the other the child role, but both are denying their own needs being in a relationship such as this, and this will lead to strain over time.

It Enhances you as a Person

A healthy relationship will bring out the best qualities of both of you, and provide an environment for you to change, learn and grow. You'll be able to feel that room, and will embrace it.

You will not be stifled or be stifling by clinging to your partner.

You'll feel a bigger person than you are alone.

OK to have Differences

A healthy relationship is one where it's OK to have differences.

Celebrate the differences between you. Have fun with them, negotiate with them or just agree to disagree. It?s the differences between you that provide the space to breathe, and the opportunity to grow.

You don't have to agree on everything, there isn't just one way of doing things, and conflict is part of the process of intimacy and trust when it is handled properly.

Let it be OK to get things wrong, talk about it, and agree a process for going forward.

Accept responsibility for your part in it. Apologise, and accept apologies.

It really OK to have different opinions since you are different people with different backgrounds and experiences.

No Control Element

Control is different to concern or interest, in that there is an ulterior motive involved which is usually manifested in a lack of trust.

If you need to be with your partner 24/7 is it really because you enjoy their company so much, or do you believe they'll be up to no good if you?re not keeping an eye on them?

Mobile phones are a prime example of this. Do you need to check your partner?s phone, or do they need to check yours? If there was trust between you there'd be no need to check as you'd trust that they?d tell you anything important!

Control is simply clinginess, and becomes restrictive and stifling.

A healthy relationship doesn't need control, as it has trust.

Know and Understand Yourself

Often, the way we behave with our partner is as a result of our own unresolved issues. This can be from past relationships, or from beliefs about ourselves as people e.g. ?Who?d love me, I'm unlovable?.

Knowing and understanding yourself can help to ensure that your past doesn't impact on the present, and thus keeps the relationship healthy and secure.

This can be achieved by talking to friends and relatives, or by reading books to improve your understanding of yourself.

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