separate lives

Keep a Life Separate From Your Relationship

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Chiara Mazzucco

CEO, Editor-in-Chief at The Indie Chicks, Inc
Chiara got her start in the blogosphere by dishing out reality slaps on her dating and relationship blog. The brutal honesty that became her signature tone earned her the badass reputation she needed to get The Indie Chicks magazine up and running. She is also a web designer and author of The 9 Mirages of Love. Driven, stubborn, and wildly ambitious, she won’t stop until she is the perfect, self-empowered role model for all of her readers.

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There are two types of couples in this world: you’re either a couple who does everything together and whose lives are intertwined right down to peeing together, or you’re a couple who live separate lives that merge on a day to day basis. While in some cases being attached at the hip has its benefits – and would not work otherwise – the vast majority of relationships are doomed to fail if they head down that messy route. You throwing up your fists yet? Good. Here’s why you have to keep your life separate from your relationship.

Note: To clarify, I’m a big supporter of doing things together in your relationship – it strengthens bonds and creates lasting memories. This article is about not doing everything together. 

Personal Growth

Life is about constant personal growth – a topic we cover quite often here on The Indie Chicks. Throughout your life, you’re likely to have multiple partners until you end up with Mr.Forever (or Mr.Forever until the divorce). Personal growth must be a constant and in your life, that 7 day one night stand isn’t. If you neglect your own ‘separate’ life while you’re busy merging with his, what happens when things don’t go as planned?

You come back to a shriveled little plant that once was.

Lesson: No matter your marital status, keep growing. Continue to feed your passions, learn life lessons and engage in activities that make you happy as an individual. Even couples in the happiest of relationships share different hobbies. Don’t let your plant shrivel. Don’t be defined by your relationship.

Avoiding the Cling Factor

This piece of advice is more for the dating honeymooners than it is for most (sane) deeply committed adults. It’s easy for your hips to gravitate toward each other during the honeymoon phase. [Your hormones are all like, Damn, can't get enough of you.. until we marry and reproduce, of course]

The problem lies in the fact that no two people experience emotion in the exact some way. What tends to happen is that one loses interest before the other – even if just a little – and leaves the other to scramble for signs of life. [Desperate scrambling = Cling Factor]

Lesson: Always have something else going on. The reality is your partner, once with hearts in place of his eye balls, may have left your honeymoon a little earlier than expected. And while that may not necessarily mean the end for your relationship, he may not feel as enthused about back to back sleep over sessions and you crashing his boys nights. Refrain from coming off as a psycho and always have a plan B.

The Alternative is Just Plain Sad

Like I said before, there are few couples the merged-and-do-everything-together-life really works for - I call those people fucking crazy. For the rest of us, being 100% reliant on our partners is a recipe for a sad, sad, life. Not only are you limiting mental challenges, personal growth, and the variety of knowledge the world has to offer, but your entire life becomes dependent on one other human being.

If he makes you sad, you stay sad. If he’s busy, you’re at home waiting for him to not be busy anymore.

Fucking. Sad.

Lesson: Here’s the sad truth: people cheat, relationships end to shit, and even the best marriages fail. If life throws an ugly curveball at you, you don’t want to be left out in the rain with nothing more than a sleeping bag and the dignity that used to be.

Keep Your Life Separate From Your Relationship

And let them merge as often as they want. The keyword here is merge. It takes two things to merge; two things that can be ripped apart and still survive on their own. And as much as this piece of advice is centered around the, “What are you going to do if it all goes to shit”, the truth is you deserve a full life, regardless of your relationship status.  You deserve to learn and to experience life the way you’ve always wanted. You deserve to make friends based on your personality and not just because they are friends of your husband. You deserve to life out dreams you’ve had as long as you can remember because being in a relationship shouldn’t be a road block or end all to your goals in life.

What about you, do you keep your lovers separate from your relationships? And what do you think about couples who don’t?

Get tips for things to do outside your relationship to make it stronger in our special print edition

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  • Blissification

    This is such gorgeously imparted wisdom. As someone who was never good at being in a relationship, I found it necessary to have a life outside of him.

    Isn’t the point of being with someone to be inspired to grow into the best version of ourselves?

    • Chiara Mazzucco

      It should be. I don’t know why people find it to be an either/ or. So many people willingly give up everything they were before the relationship because they think that’s what they have to do in order to make the relationship work. Truth is, that’s usually the reason relationships DON’T work. Drafting up my What is a Good Relationship – 30 Signs It’s Working post for next week. This is definitely one of the signs! Thanks for the comment! :)

  • Rene

    I’m not a fan of clingy people regardless of what relationship I have with them. I like the idea of having some things separate from my significant other. It gives me a little independence and when we see each other it gives us some more to talk about. Plus, it keeps the relationship from becoming too suffocating.

    • Chiara Mazzucco

      And it’s especially important when you’re married and/or living together. AND I definitely agree, though, this kind of applies to all kinds of relationships – friendships included.

      • Rene

        Agreed! There’s a fine line that has to be walked with relationships. Being independent all the time can create tension, but being clingy can become exhausting. There are times to be together and co-dependent, there are times the other person has to be your strength (and visa versa), but there are also times that you need to be self-reliant.

  • Michael

    I absolutely love this! Too often women end up so wrapped up in their guy that they forget how to be alone, to live their own life and have their own friends. Unfortunately, I let this happen to me in my early 20s. However, at 28, it was a valuable learning experience and something I know never to repeat.

    • Jewels

      I think a lot of us do that early on in relationships because we think it’s what we should be doing. I never understood that. I don’t even get the true “honeymoon” period at the start of my relationships. Yes, I want to spend time with them but not at the exclusion of everyone else and my time for myself. Call me crazy but I love myself and I have no intentions of losing what I need to stay happy. I will HAPPILY make time for a guy because I want to but my time is still my time. If that makes any sense.

  • Jo-Anne

    Yes yes yes this was bloody awesome, I have a couple of sisters who live in the shadow of the men in their lives and are too afraid it seems to stand tall and be themselves

  • Jewels

    I would hope that all our Indie Chicks have such a strong sense of self that they realize that losing themselves in a man or a relationship isn’t healthy. I can’t imagine ever dampening who I am for a man. I’m independent by nature, always have been, so to change that for a guy means he doesn’t really like me for me and that’s not acceptable. Well said, Chiara!

  • Renee Jean Claybion

    Having been in a relationship for 10 years now and growing from child with an adult with this person I couldn’t imagine going all this time without living my own life. In any relationship it’s important to have a sense of self, you have to have time to figure out who you are. And it can’t be said enough always remember the reason this person fell in love with you is YOU!

  • Sarah

    This subject has been gnawing at me lately – - I have never been one to be in a relationship let sacrifice anything for it. I know myself and what I want & need. Up until my current relationship, there were some bouts of serious commitment, but I generally dated here and there when someone interested me. The past few years, I’ve been making some positive changes in my life – my jobs have changed into a career, I feel more settled and centered. I don’t fill my life up with “stuff” just to not sit at home alone with my thoughts. I always kept busy just so I couldn’t sit still.

    What makes these changes sticky is the fact that I found the love of my life while making them. Of course, I still love the people who were in my life before these changes. They unfortunately life a life that I can’t lead anymore. I can’t party like a college girl anymore, I’ve been going out less to pay off debt.. But what I think really irks many of them is the fact that I’ve cut some substances out of my life. So many are furious with me and see this as a result of my significant other – he too doesn’t drink/do drugs etc. I really feel like I’m finally doing the right things in my life. I would naturally be devastated if things didn’t work out, but I know I would survive and continue on in the direction I’ve been heading. A good number of my friends though have been left in the dust. Should they stay there, or should I be bending to try and keep them in my life so I don’t “lose myself in the relationship”?