Why you should act single when you’re in a relationship
Independence brings you closer
If there’s one thing I’m always confused by, it’s the idea that falling in love = being totally consumed by each other. I’ve known countless people who suddenly disappeared into the depths of a new partner’s apartment every single night, only emerging to hang out when they were out of town, or when they broke up.
Not only is it really hurtful to feel like a temporary replacement until Tinder bae #3 arrives, but if you’re someone who doesn’t go all in to relationships, you start to wonder if you’re a robot who’s incapable of ~real love~ just because you still prioritise brunches with friends and focusing on your career. Luckily, maintaining some aspects of singleness in a relationship is actually the best approach. Dr. Irene S. Levine, PhD, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, explains how having independence in a relationship only makes it stronger.
1. If you have really great friends, your partner won’t feel the pressure to be everything
“Popular culture romanticises the myth of the one and only, both in mates and best friends,” says Dr. Levine. “No one individual, neither a partner nor friend, can fulfil all of any one individual’s needs.”
Putting your significant other on this easily-toppleable pedestal of perfect lover/only and only BFF/therapist only sets them up to fail. There are just things you can’t talk to them about like you can with different friends. “Friends are cathartic, helping us work out the kinks in relationships by having someone else to talk to and ask for advice,” says Levine.
2. Having a social life outside your relationship keeps you from getting bored
As fun as double dates are, you should also hang out with your individual friends one-on-one (also, it’s rude as hell to discard your single friends when you’re suddenly in a relationship). “Having friends outside a relationship can help enrich the relationship between partners,” says Dr. Levine. “It enables both of them to have new experiences that broaden their interests and perspectives, and pursue passions that otherwise might fall dormant.”
Being that couple who only hangs out together will get old, especially if you’ve fallen into a cushy Netflix routine. See your friends! Carve out time for them! You won’t regret it.
3. If you invest time in your career, you’ll legitimately have more things to talk about together
Having completely different interests or career paths that you’re passionate about only gives you more new things to discuss. And even if you’re both pursuing the same degrees or jobs, talking about your personal experiences can help you “better understand each other’s career trajectories and workplace hassles,” says Dr. Levine. “A nice mix of sameness and differences provides the best of both worlds.”
4. Having your own hobbies makes you more secure about everything
Research shows that “self-complexity” (AKA splitting your life up more evenly between your relationship, friends, family, career, hobbies, and so on) reduces symptoms of depression and stress.
It’s pretty simple: if your entire life is about your relationship, then a small fight with your partner can feel like the end of the world. But if you have a solid network of friends, a career you’re passionate about, and a random rock climbing group you hang with every Thursday, everything feels way more proportionate.