Maintaining Independence In Your Relationship

This blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Cindy Nigro, MFTi.

It is common for relationships to begin with an intense start, where you spend endless hours talking, texting and emailing back and forth. You want to spend every waking moment with your loved one getting to know them and enjoying that newness of the relationship. Being in a long-term relationship can also be wonderful. Having a partner to come home to after a hard day, and share plans for the future with, is a joy in life that appears to be one of the major goals in our culture.

However, love can quickly turn into enmeshment.  What is enmeshment?  There are many different ways to describe enmeshment. It can mean being entangled within another person whereas you become dependent upon them for your emotional needs.   If you find yourself unable to make decisions without knowing what another thinks before you decide, then you might be enmeshed. Getting someone’s input is one thing, an inability to make decisions without knowing how they believe and feel and basing your decision upon that is another story.

How does enmeshment negatively affect your relationship?  Enmeshment doesn’t allow for individuality, wholeness, empowerment or self-growth.  You might become caught up with your need to make everything perfect for your partner even if it means your own life becomes unhealthy.  You also run the risk of becoming out of control and experience greater low self-esteem as a result.

So how do you maintain independence and avoid enmeshment in your relationship?  Don’t drop your friends, hobbies or lifestyle you had at the start of the relationship in order to fit in with your partner. If he or she doesn’t share these, there’s no need to abandon them; if they fulfill you, keep them in your life.  If you find that you are becoming overly dependent on your partner, work on being more self-reliant.  If you find that you are spending way too much time together, work on taking breaks and allow for alone time.  Ultimately, focus on your self-growth and do things you find emotionally or physically challenging.


Elana Clark-Faler
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