While growing up, I envisioned love by finding that significant other who felt like the other half of you was finally found and connected. That person who knew when to lift you up when you were feeling down. The one you could always lean on. I realized that I should be the one to meet those needs fully.
If I was going into relationships with my cup half empty, expecting it to be filled by others when I should have been filling up my own cup so it could be overfilled with love for who I surround myself with. The time I gave myself to self-discover and grow more as an individual and a partner, I realized all of my love and support should come through within myself, and that has made the journey of finding love much more enjoyable.
Embracing independence and self-discovery set a clear path for me to have what I want in a significant other and what I can provide.
I have confidence going into a relationship, knowing we both can depend on one another in certain situations but can independently handle it on my own.
I know now that I’ll be going into a relationship with the right intentions, my expectations for myself and my future partner, and how we can be codependent in certain situations. But I can independently handle my own responsibilities.
Having independence in my own relationship means I can fulfill my needs without dependence on my future partner. At first, it felt selfish; the idea of not relying on a partner for everything was an awakening that made me realize that I shouldn’t be expecting a partner to fulfill my needs.
I made sure I could take care of myself without the help of others because, in the end, I’m the only one who will 100% be there for myself.
And that doesn't necessarily mean I’m being guarded or untrustworthy of a partner. In a sense, I can look to a partner for certain guidance. They can give me the support that can guide me for a decision in something or just overall moral support. Still, in the end, it needs to be me who can push myself forward into taking the next steps and striving to make me a better person. People often think that if you're independent in your own relationship, you're not being vulnerable for your partner, and that's definitely not the case. You should have clear, transparent communication with your partner and the confidence to handle situations outside of your relationship on your own without their guidance. Independent partners can also be seen as not having enough quality time with one another. It's important for both partners to cherish their time together and appreciate each other's company while also recognizing the value of personal space. This means that they can fully enjoy each other's presence yet still feel independent and capable when they need time apart. No one should ever feel neglected or overly dependent on their partner's constant presence.
Having independence is having my own goals and interests and friends but still being there for my partner, and it doesn't mean that I won't be vulnerable with them because it's natural to have those vulnerable moments. And my love language is quality time, but I do appreciate having that time alone with myself and knowing that I am fully capable of taking care of myself.
I realized that all relationships are unique, and finding the right balance for independence and togetherness with my future partner would require open communication and understanding of one another; I grew so much as a person when I decided to seek independence within relationships. I didn't realize how much I relied on the way I felt from my partner, and if they were not there for me at a certain time, then my mood would immediately change and affect my entire day. I asked myself why I was expecting so much of this energy from a partner when I wasn't even providing that for myself. And it took a lot of time and self-thought to figure out exactly how I can make sure that I am fulfilling my needs before putting my energy into someone else. I would put all of my energy into other people and never save enough for myself. And when it was never reciprocated through previous partners, I was always left with hopelessness and self-hate towards myself, wondering why is it that I provided all of this love and support for other people. They don't feel the need to provide that to me as, well. I found out more about what I liked and obviously what I didn't like when it came to traits of myself when I was in a relationship. It was a bitter pill I had to swallow and understand how I could adjust to being successful in future relationships. A big focus of my self-discovery was ensuring individuality and future partnerships. Having different trades, goals, and friends when you go into a relationship is important because it builds dynamic and continuous learning of one another. And there is a reduction of dependency on one another and knowing that when you spend time apart, you don't have to be so worried about needing them by your side all the time. And, of course, when that time is well spent away from one another, you realize that you can be off on your own without your significant other. When you do reconnect, the connection is just so much more valued instead of seeing each other every single day. self-discovery in love meant finding the strengths and weaknesses in myself and what I value and ensuring that those don't get swept under the rug for a partner that may view them or might view them differently.
Independence was important not only for myself but for future relationships. Having an identity beyond a partner meant not relying on someone else for happiness and support. I filled my own cup and let everything else overfill it. If I depended on someone else to fill that cup and suddenly they’re out of my life, I’m all alone with a half-empty cup. Of course, it is totally understandable to lean towards your partner for certain circumstances.
I discovered independence should be viewed as a balance between self-reliance and interdependence.
Written by Marie Fisher. Amara Allen photographed by The Rare Wav with creative direction by Brianna Janae. Styling by Brianna Janae with clothing by Fëi Vintage. Set designed by Brianna Janae and The Rare Wav.