What does it take to have a strong relationship with your partner? The common answers are communication and compatibility. But having a strong sense of self is one important factor that gets overlooked. So, to make sure your relationship is strong and healthy, here’s why you’ll want to cultivate some personal autonomy.

Does having a strong sense of self sound a bit strange when you’re in a partnership? After all, we’re surrounded by many trite phrases like, “Two become one”, “My other half”, or what’s worse, “My better half”.

And thanks to ideas like this, we believe we’re incomplete until we’re paired up with someone else. But this can lead to an unhealthy, codependent relationship, in which two individuals start to lose their identity for the sake of the relationship.

How can you avoid this?

Having a strong sense of self doesn’t mean you have to be polar opposites or actively seek to define yourself and create space between you and your partner. It’s still important to share similar values, goals and beliefs. Otherwise, it’s hard to move forward together.

But the idea is to move forward together, rather than constantly moving in toward each other.

It’s important to share your life with your partner. But it becomes a problem when you mesh your two lives together.

One good place to start is to love your partner, rather than to try and control them. This means trusting them to make autonomous decisions which will allow them to become the best version of themselves.

This takes trust and a whole lot of unconditional love, but this allows both you and your partner to have a strong sense of self, and as a result, a strong relationship, too.