Is there enough room for “I” in a “We”?


Not too long ago, I posted about living with my boyfriend. Ever since my big move in March, things have been going wonderfully and John and I have adjusted to life together seamlessly. The day after we returned from our trip to St. Augustine, however, something interesting happened. I needed to hit the mall in pursuit of a new dress for an upcoming birthday party, and when John gave his anything but enthusiastic response when asked if he’d like to tag along, I announced that I’d go by myself. Alone. Alone as in, first time we’ve ever chosen to part ways besides going to work since we’ve moved in together alone.

When I realized this I said something along the lines of “wow, weird…this is the first time I’ll be going somewhere without you coming too.” John shrugged his shoulders and pointed out that we go to work alone every single day and it was no big deal. I went on my merry way and shopped for a few hours then returned home excited to see what John had been up to as well as share my totally interesting story about how it took me 20 minutes to find a parking space and I almost got rained on. Even better, I’d purchased a dress without John as a witness so I got to model it and twirl around until his attention turned back to our enormous television (he is getting better at this “multi-tasking” thing).

So, what did I learn from this whole experience? In all honestly, I remembered how easy it can be to become a “we” in a relationship and forget about you. Relationships and falling in love are exciting things, and it’s only natural for us to want to devote 100% of our time to a significant other and put ourselves on the back burner a little bit. I know I’m guilty as charged and I’d be surprised to encounter anyone who hasn’t ever put themselves second to a relationship. When you’re in love, it’s so easy to put yourself on hold and focus on your partner, but what makes a relationship really amazing is when you can focus on the relationship you have with yourself, too.

I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone who appreciates my independent side and encourages me to do my own thing, and it actually makes our relationship all the more healthier when we take time to ourselves. You see, we need that time to ourselves, or else we don’t allow any room for growth (which we do a whole lot of in our twenties). It’s okay to part ways every once in a while because relationships (especially ones involving living together) require that breathing room every now and again. I’ve learned being in a relationship doesn’t have to mean losing your sense of self, and while there’s plenty of room for we, there’s enough room for I, too.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s important to maintain a sense of self and have some independence in a relationship? How do you spend your “you” time?

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29 thoughts on “Is there enough room for “I” in a “We”?

  1. Susie

    Totally agree that it’s SO important to maintain an independence and sense of self in a relationship, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the “we” and lose sight of that. Well said!

    Sea and Swank

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Yep, it is sooo easy and I’ve done it so many times without even noticing. In my opinion, independence and time away from each other in a relationship is equally as important as the time you spend together.

      Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Such a good point, when we are wearing so many hats it’s hard to remember to take a little time to yourself every once in a while! Also I completely agree, you have to be happy with yourself in order to be happy with another, so the me is very important.

      Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Totally true. I always heard people saying that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else and once I finally took the time to just be me and be alone for a while I was so much happier and ready for the relationship I’m in now with my boyfriend.

      Reply
  2. albucco10

    I love this post, Stephanie! I think that’s my biggest fear, is getting into a relationship and losing your sense of self–I’ve seen it happen with so many friends and it always makes me so sad. Lucky for me, all the relationships that I’ve experienced have allowed me to have the “I” and the “We” together–I’m very independent and LOVE my alone time, so that’s very important to me!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Thanks Alyssa, super glad you enjoyed it! I’ve seen it happen with friends too, and I’ve also seen it happen to myself. I’m so thankful to be with someone now who understands my need for independence and wants me to go out and do some things on my own, I think that’s a huge part of why we have such a great relationship with each other! I am super independent too so it’s necessary to get a little me time in 🙂

      Reply
  3. Rachel

    I’ve always been independent when in a relationship, I think it’s really important. Honestly, I prefer shopping alone most of the time because I know how annoyed and bored guys get when watching us try on things and complain about how fat/skinny we look. Then again, I find myself sending my boyfriend pictures asking which dress looks best for his friend’s wedding.

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Haha, so true! I like having my boyfriend there for an opinion but I know how antsy and annoyed he gets when he does go, so it’s best for me to go alone! I send mine pics all the time too, but I think that goes back to what I’m talking about here. Even though we still have independence in our relationships, we’re still IN a relationship at the end of the day. Independence in a relationship isn’t the same as independence being single, so even if we’re out doing something alone of course we’re still going to be keeping in touch with our significant others 🙂

      Reply
  4. Always Maylee

    For the most part, I always go shopping by myself. Mostly because I enjoy the alone time and having my husband there just makes me feel pressured to hurry. My husband also enjoys HIS alone time – he goes golfing or shops for ‘guy’ stuff by himself (tools, sports stuff, etc). It’s definitely important to maintain your sense of self in a relationship. You should always remember that your relationship shouldn’t define WHO you are, it’s just a part of you.

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Such a great point Yi-chia, and you are so right. Relationships should never define you as a person, they are a part of you. I’ve definitely made that mistake in the past and let my relationship define me, but I’m thankful to have learned my lesson because now I am in a healthy relationship when I can take alone time whenever I need without feeling bad or guilty, and my boyfriend knows he can absolutely do the same. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

      Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Totally agree! We grow so much so alone time is necessary to allow for all that growth. I am so different from when I was 20, too, and it’s only been 3 years since then!

      Reply
  5. crazystylelove

    I think having alone time is one of the healthiest things you can do for a relationship. Of course, I LOVE to spend time with my Man, but I’ve always been a very independent person and I really LOVE my alone time too. It’s hard for me to understand my friends that always have to do things as a couple. I actually have a friend who will not travel without her husband. Eight of us girls went to Mexico last year, and she wouldn’t come because it was a girl’s trip and her husband couldn’t come to. I was shocked, but hey, to each his own. You are right about conversation also. . .if you spend all your free time with your significant other, how do you have anything to talk about?! I actually look forward to the night’s my Man has a boy’s night out because I get to have the apartment to myself, which is very rare. I usually end up watching girly movies or fashion shows, ordering yummy take-out, trying on clothing to make new outfits, and just enjoying spending time with myself. Then when my Man comes home, we always tell each other how much we missed each other, and it’s a great bonding experience when we are back together.

    xo Jenny
    http://www.crazystylelove.com

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      TOTALLY agree. It didn’t take me long to realize how much healthier a relationship can be when you take time to yourself. I know people too who won’t ever part ways with their boyfriends and it really sucks because as much as I need alone time, I need GIRL time too. You are right on par with my own thoughts, my boyfriend is big on the gym so on days when he stays late working out I just come home and relax with the house to myself. I can indulge in a few episodes of SATC, make up new outfits, read and do all the other things that interest me. Once my boyfriend and I have spent a little time apart, we appreciate the time we have together even more. Thanks for reading!!

      Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I’m glad you agree and can relate Sharon! I do the same thing – most days I’m home earlier than my boyfriend and I love having a little me time on those days. I can do all my girly things and have the house to myself for a while. I love girl time also, and I love that my boyfriend encourages me to go out with my girl friends rather than trying to keep me all to himself all the time!

      Reply
  6. Ileana

    Love this post!!! Doing activities separated is really good for a relationship… 🙂
    wanna see the dressss 😉 lol
    xoxo

    novelstyle.blgospot.com

    Reply
  7. thestatestreetedit

    I think having alone time is absolutely essential to your relationships with anyone – your sig. other, your friends, your family … even your relationship with yourself! 🙂 Besides having something new to talk about with that person (like your adventures shopping), you’re also getting in touch with your internal states, which can only make you a better communicator. I’m a total introvert so alone time is a daily necessity 🙂 Can’t wait to see this dress, Stephanie!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I totally agree Jessica! Alone time is important, and not only in romantic relationships but also friendships and family relationships as well. I love getting to share my day with my boyfriend after we’ve been apart, it makes us even closer. I should be debuting the dress on Monday! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Rachel @ Making Life Fabulous

    I think it is very important to have time for yourself, and to do the things you enjoy! Even though it is rewarding and satisfying to pour into someone else, it can wear you out if you never take time for yourself! When I need some “me” time, I love to working on my sewing projects! It’s relaxing and fun!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Totally agree – I used to pour myself into relationships and totally forget about myself. I learned my lesson and now I’m so happy I get to be in a relationship with someone who understands I need my “me” time, and I know he needs his too! We encourage each other to go out and do things alone and don’t make each other feel guilt for that, because it’s a necessary part of any healthy relationship. That’s awesome that you sew, I always wanted to learn!

      Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Definitely! I have been there before too, luckily I am in a happy and healthy relationship with a great guy now who lets me have all the me time I need, and it allows me to grow both in our relationship AND as an individual 🙂

      Reply
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