Healthy relationship conversations usually center around things you can do together to make your bond stronger. They rarely mention the healthy relationship goals you should work on outside of your relationship, which technically aren’t about your relationship. But, believe it or not, having the best possible relationship isn’t always about teamwork. Often times, the work you’ll be doing to have a healthy relationship directly involves excluding your partner.
Sounds weird, I know, but part of being in a healthy relationship with another person is being in a healthy relationship with yourself, with your friends and family, and with the world around you. The stronger you become as an individual, the better you’ll be at your relationship.
According to lifestyle blogger Emma Woodhouse of Emma Approved, no matter how much your “I” becomes a “we,” you still need to make an active effort to spend time apart, whether by scheduling weekly friend dates or throwing yourself into your hobbies. Otherwise, you’ll start to feel all the things that make you an individual slip away and you’ll find too much of your identity tied up in another person.
Luckily, this part of being in a healthy relationship is one of the fun parts. You get to go out into the world and kick butt. You get to have fun and bond with people you care about. You get to make new friends. And even if that feels selfish, you can do so knowing that it’s one of the best things you can do to keep your relationship in top working order.
1. Having Your Own Friends
Working on relationships that have nothing to do with your own romantic relationship is a really healthy thing to do. You have to have your own friends and spend time apart, for a number of reasons. It improves your happiness, it makes you more self-reliant, it helps you understand and attract the types of things you want in a relationship, and it’s good for your self-esteem, according to Daylle Deanna Schwartz in an article for the Huffington Post. All these things make you a better partner.
2. Being Your Best Self
Being an awesome person makes you both an awesome individual and half of an awesome power couple. You should be able to work on your own glad outside of the relationship and be person who is in charge of your own happiness. This takes pressure off of your partner to be your everything, to meet all your needs, and to provide all your happiness.
3. Encouraging Your Partner’s Best Self
You love your partner, and whether he or she gets a promotion or climbs a mountain has nothing to do with that love. Still, happy people make better partners, as do people who contribute equally to their relationships. Plus, there’s nothing hotter than someone on top of their game.
4. Spending Solo Time
Working on the relationship you have with yourself is an ongoing life process, and one that has a big impact on your relationship, obvi. “Independence within the interdependence of a relationship stokes passion for each other. So if you want a healthy relationship, get a life that’s your own” according to Schwartz.
5. Working On Your Fitness
And also working on your nutrition and other areas of your health. This is less about how many hours you clock at the gym, though, and more about the idea of taking care of yourself. Maybe marathon running doesn’t do it for you, but perhaps meditation is the thing that helps you feel your best. Whatever your health and nutrition goals are that make you feel your best individually, taking care of yourself is so important. This is one part “being your best self” and one part “being alive and healthy so I can enjoy my partner.” Plus, exercise totally steams up your sex life, according to Women’s Health.
6. Discover What You Care About
When you realize the world is a wonderful place, you have more of an investment in making it a better place and making yourself a better person. There are plenty of ways to do this. “Get involved in organizations that relate to something you do professionally, or that focus on a hobby or interest that appeals to you” according to Schwartz. These activities are also good ways to make your own friends.
Having a healthy relationship is just as much about the work you do outside the relationship as it is about the work you do together. Just never lose sight of the fact that you are both individuals in a couple rather than two people defined by their couple status