Characteristic #4 of a Healthy Relationship

4. Each person must have a separate identity.

Holy freaking cow.

How I love this one. So, so, so incredibly much.

And how I feel that this one is probably the least achieved by people in relationships, and probably the one to most easily justify and deny. “Of course we have separate identities!” Really? Define yourself without using the other person’s name.

Okay, so I’m a little heated and bitter about this characteristic. But I truly believe that this is crucial to a relationship. It’s so easy to become almost obsessed in a new relationship. Once again, everything is new, everything is exciting, and you have that high being around each other. While I believe that eventually wears off, how a person begins to define themselves after it all settles down is critical. Each person needs to like being around the other person, but also needs to find enjoyment outside of the relationship. (another characteristic to be mentioned, actually. Stay tuned.)

When two people start dating, what usually draws people together is the attraction each one has to the other person. Why? Because that person is different. That person has qualities that the other doesn’t have, perhaps, and that’s what they like. That’s the attraction point. Now, if the two people essentially mold into one person, defining themselves only by the other, where’s the relationship? There’s no separate identity because one person simply defines their existence by another person. (I know this may sound crazy, but I know so many people who fall into this trap during every single relationship they get into! It’s almost heartbreaking for me to watch.)

How do you know you have a separate identity from the other person? Let’s break down the words “separate” and “identity” and see what we have. (definitions from from

[separate] verb: to set apart, dissociate, disconnect. adjective: distinct; unique; existed or maintained independently.

[identity] noun: the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.

So, we set ourselves apart from another. We are distinct. We are unique. And we are maintained independently. We do not, do not, DO NOT define ourselves and our existence in life by the other person. You can easily be in love with someone and still define yourself as who you are, not who you are because of that person. You enjoy things that don’t involve the other person–such as an independent hobby you do on your own time. I enjoy making collages out of cut-up Vogue magazines on canvases. I enjoy writing in this blog or hand-writing in my journal. I also enjoy turning on Sade and lighting dozens of candles and taking a long bubble bath when I have absolutely no where to be. Sex and the City would call this “secret single behavior.”

Set yourself apart. Find happiness in things outside of your relationship. And please, please do not let someone else define you. Believe me, you are just as amazing without that person. That’s what attracted them to you, after all.

What’s your secret single behavior? That is, things that you love doing when you’re alone? And how do you define who you are?


Please, challenge me!

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