“You can grow in different directions and still be together. We marvel at the fact that we’re still compatible because we’re both completely different people than when we started out. You have to be secure enough to let the person go their own way and not always have to drive him with you. I think you can grow in different directions and still be together. If you’re insecure in your relationship, that’s never going to work.” – 40-something, married, mom, retired businesswoman, Chicago, IL
A lot of young women I talk to struggle with how to maintain their identity as they enter into long-term relationships. We’ve all seen friends that completely adopt their partners likes and interests and maybe even done it ourselves. But over time this will only tear away at your identity and self-esteem until there is nothing left for your partner to love. And then there is always the risk that when you let him know that actually you have no interest in birdwatching (fill in the blank), he realizes he fell in love with a facade. That is how you grow apart instead of together. I had a woman whose husband professed to love to travel and then post wedding admitted no- he didn’t really want to see the world, he’d rather see the NFL. Her cry of disbelief, “How can you not want to see China.” Oops!
Have the confidence to go out and do your own things, maintain your own friendships, point-of-view and interests. It doesn’t mean you don’t put your relationship first. Don’t confuse time with importance. You need me time and we time. You do need shared interests and values. But going out and doing your own thing will only make you more interesting to your partner.
This post originally appeared in October 2010.