Sometimes we get so caught up in the fog of romance and relationships that our sense of identity begins to fade away.
This shouldn’t be.
The healthiest relationships are unions where both participants can enjoy and respect one another’s autonomy, yet still come together at the end of the day.
Contrary to popular opinion, being in a relationship doesn’t mean you can claim ownership over your partner.
This will only stifle them–and over time, like a pressure cooker about to blow, they might sprint in the other direction.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the boundaries people who value freedom set in a relationship.
Once you can get the idea, you can start making the necessary adjustments. Let’s get to it!
1) The need for time and space
As established, once you lose your sense of self to romance, this can be concerning.
If things don’t work out, not only will you be devastated, but you’ll have to painstakingly regain who you once were–something that could’ve been at least partially avoided had you maintained your autonomy in the relationship.
So if you have the tendency to get sucked in, it’s worth making the extra effort to start prioritizing “me time” or pursuing personal hobbies… without your beau.
While to some this might seem counterproductive, in terms of long-term sustainability, you’ll need to be your own person or risk suffocating your partner (or feeling suffocated) down the line.
2) Financial independence
In my early 20s, my girlfriend at the time and I were so swept away in romance that we wanted to do just about everything together.
Including sharing our finances.
We considered sharing a bank account as if we were a married couple with three kids and a mortgage.
Fortunately, we chose not to pursue that arrangement.
People who value freedom will often want to separate their finances from their partner–and have clear agreements in place regarding dividing expenses
Today, I’m in a long-term relationship–and for the most part, we keep our finances split.
We do have an internal, informal accounting system in place, for funds that go to things like groceries, utilities, trips abroad, etc.
It’s an ideal, easy set-up for us both. No drama, no unnecessary arguments about money.
And sharing a bank account? I don’t imagine we’ll be having that discussion anytime soon.
3) Social boundaries
When your life is so intertwined with your mate, you run the risk of things becoming stale.
This is a common side effect of overexposure. It’s true what they say: familiarity can (occasionally) breed contempt.
Establishing social boundaries is therefore a recommended pursuit for partners who desire and value a sense of freedom.
Meaning if you aren’t always invited to dinners, brunches, or nights out with your other half’s group of friends, don’t take it personally.
You shouldn’t have to participate in every social activity as a couple.
I’m with my girlfriend all week.
We both work from home, so when the weekend rolls around, I might opt to get space and see my friends; and she’ll do the same with her friends.
Neither of us takes exception to not being invited…It’s understood: this is our time and space to catch up with our pals, separate from one another for a few brief hours.
4) Communication expectations
While some couples are joined at the hip, constantly in touch when they’re apart even for an hour or two, this is not often the case with the person who values freedom.
They’ll set clear guidelines about communication frequency, respecting their partner’s need for disconnecting and quiet time.
My parents live abroad. I get to see them once a year give or take.
I remember we even went a whole two years without physically seeing each other.
So as the pandemic died down, I booked a flight, eager to reunite with them.
On our first night together, we were catching up over dinner and a few drinks and my girlfriend (now ex) began incessantly texting and calling me as she was “stressed” over something.
While I was responding to her periodically, apparently my texts were not arriving at her desired pace.
This only prompted her to up the ante, so to speak.
Her texting and calling frequency went into overdrive, ignoring my pleas for space, my pleas for wanting to catch up with my parents unbothered.
Long story short, this was the first of many red flags that eventually led to the realization that she wasn’t quite the one for me.
Moral of the story? If you want your relationship to survive, communication boundaries are highly recommended.
5) Decision making boundaries
Sure, making decisions as a couple, and as a team, is undoubtedly important.
Mutually respecting one another’s right to make decisions for themselves should not be an issue.
Maybe the decision has to do with their career, health, or body.
These things don’t inherently concern you, so if they request you not to interfere, you should be able to respect that boundary.
Last week, I noticed my friend and his wife silently quarreling over dinner.
Apparently, my friend wasn’t happy with his partner’s choice of outfit, since according to him, it was too “revealing.”
I didn’t butt in but I couldn’t help but think that the topic of contention itself was such a minor issue; one that wouldn’t occur in relationships where boundaries are truly respected.
She should be able to decide to wear whatever she chooses. Her body, her choice. This is a healthy boundary.
End of discussion.
My girlfriend has a secret Twitter (or ‘X’) account that she claims to be her “safe space.”
Since she’s logged on all the time, I can’t help but occasionally feel a little curious about what she writes on there.
But this is the type of curiosity that I know I will never satisfy.
Recently, she’s fallen asleep a few times with her devices unlocked.
Though I might feel a mild urge to quickly peruse what’s on her social media, I am able to resist every time.
Because I respect her privacy.
I understand that her social media is an outlet for her, and just because I’m not included is inconsequential to me.
We all have our needs, and our means of expression; hers happens to be via an anonymous social media account.
So if you value your freedom, you’ll afford your partner with the same courtesy, respecting their privacy in terms of personal belongings, phones, laptops, etc.
We should be able to relax around our partners, and mutually trust each other.
If we’re constantly on edge, having to keep one eye open, then simply put, this is a recipe for disaster.
Although boundaries are important, remember the contents of this article are more guidelines than rules set in stone.
If you value freedom and autonomy, then you cannot assume your partner is on the same page.
So start communicating.
Without it, your relationship will start to crumble.
When you do start talking, you’ll start to understand one another on a heightened level–something that will pave the way to fewer misunderstandings and greater success, both as a couple and apart.