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How to Reconcile Individuality and Union in Your Relationships

To be in a relationship is to exist in a state somewhere between individuality and union; this is so for all relationships, not just personal ones. We are both the relationship and the individual. Ideally, we move smoothly between these states without any struggle; there is no resistance, no attachment. Each has its pleasures and its pains. To be an individual is to have autonomy and power, yet loneliness can be its price. In relationships, we both give and receive love and acceptance, but risk drowning ourselves in the connection. Our loneliness is quenched, but our individuality can get lost.

We have needs for both a sense of self and the sense of connection. The two are contradictory; it is like wanting to live in the heart of the city and also deep in the country. In real life, it is expensive to afford two mortgages. In our head, there is a comparable price: can we be alone without being lonely, and can we be together without the fear of losing our individuality?

Ideally, we can move fluidly between the two states. We need both to fulfill our needs. Be conscious of both, and open yourself up to each state fully. When you are with someone, whether your partner, a friend or a stranger, be with them fully. Give them your entire attention. Maybe they won’t join you, maybe they will, but your calmness and presence will enter and lighten their day.

We all want to be seen, appreciated and acknowledged. Sometimes just making eye contact with someone, smiling, letting them know somebody knows they are present is all it might take to renew that person’s spirits. Sharing ourselves and opening our hearts to that kind of union with others helps us grow and stretch.

In an intimate relationship, it is easy to take the connection for granted and to let it languish. Make sure to carve time out of your day to just connect, sit, share what is going on, feel how your partner is, and bring both of you back into the moment. And make sure that there are new experiences of fun and pleasure together to feed the connection and keep it alive.

We must all find our balance between staying in connection and awareness with ourselves, and relating to others and their inner selves. Practice flowing between the two, and we will all be the richer for it.

One of the areas that can trip people up is understanding that there really are two separate personalities involved in a relationship. This sounds obvious, but in practice the mind does not always acknowledge this fact. As you grow more intimate with someone, there is a blurring of the line between “you” and “them.” You feel the mutual self and sometimes forget there really are two selves, as well as the new self – the couple in union. This type of feeling can quickly lead one down a path of criticism. It creates the desire to alter how or what the other person does, and to try to adjust them to be more correctly representative of one’s self. How Two: Have a Successful Relationship

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfIn this week's blog, we discussed how to reconcile individuality and union in your relationships. Here are some insightful articles on that topic.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Individuality in Relationships "'You complete me.' Who doesn’t love this seminal line from Tom Cruise’s character in the movie Jerry McGuire? It melts the heart of any romantic and makes them long for a love like that. A union with their ‘missing piece’ – someone who makes them feel whole and complete. ... However, this glamorous portrayal of true love gives us false expectations. While making certain compromises is necessary to make any partnership work, losing ourselves in the process isn’t. Escalating divorce rates of over 50% and infidelity rates of over 40% is a clear sign that we’re missing an essential piece of the relationship game."

Giving in Relationships Without Losing Yourself or Sacrificing Your Needs "'Relationships are about two individuals who maintain their own lives and create another one together.' ~Unknown. ... I have observed that I have a strong desire to merge with my partner because it feels blissful to be connected. I crave union, being one with the person who means most to me. ... Relationships require a delicate balance between having clear boundaries and yet not becoming too closed off from the other person."

How to Be With Someone But Still Be Yourself "Where do you end and where does your partner begin? ... But that feeling of merging may contribute to you feeling like you're losing your identity—or losing yourself in the relationship. When two become one, there’s beauty to that. A reciprocal relationship celebrates and encourages your unique sense of self within it. But that process usually doesn't happen cleanly, and you may start to fear that your independent self will be annihilated."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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