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Harmonious Independence

It’s said that if you want a relationship to succeed, to really last, you have to make sacrifices.

I disagree.

It’s important to bend when dealing with other people, sure, but that doesn’t mean you should break. If you have to give up what’s important to you in order to be with someone else, it’s very possible you’re with the wrong person. This applies to business relationships, friendships, and more-than-friendships. Why on earth would you want to give up what makes you, you, in order to be with someone? And why would you want anyone else to do the same?

There’s a phrase I use to describe what I look for in relationships: harmonious independence. It means that you are you, with or without anyone else. You are complete.

At the same time, your independent spirit plays well with others. You don’t expect anyone else to give up what makes them happy in order to be in your life, nor would you want them to expect it of you. Instead, you support each other in all things. Their personality traits, goals, idiosyncrasies, and other relationships are the reason you want them in your life.

Each of you being whole, independent people is what makes the relationship worthwhile in the first place. You have your own lives, but you meet in the middle because you want to. Your completeness supports their completeness and allows you to become an even better version of yourself in the exchange. As a result, you can be tied as loosely or closely as makes sense for your situation, and in either case, you contribute to each other’s lives in a positive way.

A relationship worth having does not require you to be anyone but the best possible version of yourself.

Update: April 5, 2017

This is, strangely, an opinion of mine that many people take issue with. I’ve found the same with a lot of the essays that ended up in my book on relationships, which contains a lot of ideas like this one.

A lot of the pushback is the result of tradition, I think, but there’s also a lot of cognitive dissonance with anything relationship-related. We all make so many mistakes in this facet of life, it can be hard to take a long, hard look at it and figure out how we might do things better.