“No relationship can survive without trust, honesty, and communication, no matter how close you are.”
~ J. Sterling
Cultivating freedom in a relationship allows you to build intentionally towards long-term fulfillment.
When a relationship feels free, both partners have the security and trust to be fully themselves, both within and outside of the relationship.
Though this can sound out of reach, remember that having to discuss your needs for security and freedom is normal.
If you find yourself in a situation where your partner has expressed desire to have more freedom in the relationship, make building healthy boundaries a priority.
Think about what your boundaries are and be open to hearing his.
For instance, if is it important to you that you have a date night every week, or that he text or call you to say goodnight every night—whatever your boundaries, tell him how you really feel and think about what healthy compromise might look like.
For instance, if he says he wants to spend more weekends catching up with friends, talk to him about what you’re willing to compromise and extend the conversation. Move forward making more intentional plans that meet both of your needs.
Make talking about what you need into something meaningful and fun, so that neither one of you feels interrogated or on guard.
Make a meal together, or plan a walk and talk about what aspects of your relationship you love and what you want to do more of together. Also, talk about what you both wish you had more time for.
Opening the dialogue about personal goals and priorities affirm your commitment to seeing your partner thrive, as well as your personal commitment to your own goals and needs.
Ask your partner the hard questions around freedom, and open the dialogue to discussing fears as well as vulnerabilities.
When we feel free in love, the possibilities feel limitless. You deserve the balanced stability that freedom in trusting partnership provides.
If you feel you want more support in exploring what this looks like personally or in your relationship, seeking professional guidance can be a helpful tool for exploring how to for cultivating healthy boundaries in order to find freedom and security in love.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
Here are some guidelines of what is “okay” and “not okay” when it comes to striking that balance of both people in a relationship having freedom while still staying connected and committed:
Okay: Spending time doing activities separate from each other
It is appropriate and healthy that both people will spend time with their own friends or do their own hobbies without their partner around. You and him both had a life before you entered this relationship and it’s important that you maintain your individuality while you are a couple.
Not okay: Cancelling prior plans for other activities
Unless it is a very important event, it is not okay for either of you to back out of plans the two of you made together to go spend time with other people or do other things.
If you made plans to see a movie on Saturday night, but now he wants to go do something else instead, this is disrespectful to you and your relationship. He can re-schedule those plans for another time when you are not busy together.
Okay: Having an active social life
Especially if he’s an extrovert, his friendships may be very important to him. This can be wonderful to find a partner who is close with his family and/or friends. As mentioned above, it’s healthy for him to spend time with his friends without you around sometimes and to have strong social support.
Not okay: Struggling to find time together
It’s important that the two of you make quality time for one another. If you live together and he’s gone more than he’s home, that’s a problem. If he’s spending multiple hours every week with his friends but can’t seem to find an evening to spend time with you, that’s a problem.
You don’t want to feel like you’re being “penciled in” around his other plans. Either he cuts back on some other things to make space for you or he may not be ready/able to devote the time that’s needed for a relationship to thrive.
Okay: Not responding immediately
A big conflict that can arise with couples is when one person texts/calls the other and doesn’t hear back right away. It is an unrealistic expectation to expect him to answer every time you call or to always text you back within 10 minutes. Especially if you know he’s busy with something else, cut him some slack.
Not okay: Not responding at all
Having said that, it is not okay for him to not respond to you at all. Some people set the boundary that when they are with their friends/family members, they won’t respond to texts/calls.
While it’s good that he’s trying to be present with the people he’s with, you are his partner and it’s important that you’re able to reach him if you really need something.
Determine with him what seems realistic for the both of you in terms of communication when you’re not together (i.e. responding within two hours when not at work).
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
When we are in a relationship for a short amount of time or a long period of time once or both parties in that relationship are going to want their freedoms.
This could be going and hanging out with friends, having alone time, exercising or hanging out with family. How do we allow freedom in relationships?
Some tips are having trust, setting boundaries and communication.
Let’s break down these tips a little bit more and see how you can let your boyfriend have freedom in your relationship.
Finding a boyfriend that you fully trust is very important in a relationship.
Of course when you go on your first few dates you might be skeptical of him. But once you get to know each other better and he has not done anything to break your trust, then you can trust him. Most of the time what drives us nuts is our own doubts and not the actions of our boyfriends.
If you are always doubting whether your boyfriend is being truthful or not that is not fully trusting him.
Another important part of trust is also trusting your own gut. If your boyfriend goes and hangs out with his friends and doesn’t come home that night you might feel something is up. But when he finally does come home he apologizes and says he fell asleep at his friend’s house. You will probably get a gut feeling either way if that is true or not. So whatever your gut says trust it.
Another important aspect of allowing freedom in your relationship is setting boundaries.
Your boundaries can be anything that feels comfortable to you. It could be anything from your boyfriend going out with friends and it gets late or he has had too much to drink and crashes at a friend’s house. Your boundary is that he should call or text to let you know where he is staying. So you aren’t worried about him.
Another boundary could be if one of you is extremely upset with the other you take thirty minutes to cool down before you try to have a conversation with one another.
Whatever boundaries you set you should feel comfortable with them. And as long your boyfriend hasn’t broken any of your boundaries you should not be worried about anything.
The last tip is communication.
When you are able to communicate openly and honestly this shows you and your boyfriend that your relationship is strong. Conversations at the time might be hard and uncomfortable but by having them you can stop any problems pretty immediately. This also shows both of you that you can get through difficult times and still be there for each other.
I hope these tips helped.
Hollis Wall, MA, LMHCA – www.wallehollis.com
Nobody gets into a relationship in order to feel like they’ve gotten a prison sentence. Good relationships create more freedom not less.
- Good relationships create the kind of freedom that comes from having a supportive partner, someone who’s invested in your growth as an individual.
- Good partners encourage each other to expand; needy partners, often out of fear, try to thwart growth and push each other to contract. That’s when people begin to feel trapped.
Encouraging your partner’s growth doesn’t include support for the freedom to lie, cheat, or otherwise violate the relationship boundaries.
Good relationships require a commitment to those boundaries that exist to protect the overall integrity of the relationship.
We don’t “give “each other freedom. We are already free when we come into a relationship. Being in a relationship doesn’t change that.
What does change is the establishment of mutually agreed upon rules and boundaries that protect the relationship.
There are three entities to consider. There is you; there is him, and then there is the relationship itself.
Each of these entities needs to be respected and protected. That’s what rules and boundaries are supposed to do. Does personal freedom get limited? Of course. Living with another person isn’t the same as living alone.
If and when the relationship begins to feel too confining, it’s time to revisit the rules and boundaries.
Needs change over time. What is each partner needing now and how can those needs be accommodated?
Peoples’ needs should always be respected even if not all of those needs can be met.
I always think that a relationship that works to meet as many of the individual needs as possible will provide the most fulfilling experience for its members.
The opposite is also true; relationships that seek to limit its members will become the ones in which partners begin to feel trapped.
Respecting each other as individuals as well as partners and finding a balance between individual and relational satisfaction is what partners should ideally strive for.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Everyone is always in search of the secret to a healthy relationship.
Sometimes, it seems as though this search is as deep and complex as Christopher Columbus’ search for America. I am here to be the big, bold, red “X” on your map. Communication.
If you and your partner have open and good communication, you have made it to the end of your search.
Communication is your navigation for anything and everything your relationship throws at you.
If he wants more freedom, ask yourself:
- What does “freedom” mean to me?
- What “freedom” am I comfortable with?
- Do I feel content with giving him this “freedom?”
- What are questions I need answered before I am okay with this “freedom?”
Find a good time, sit down, dismiss all other distractions, use kind language, (maybe pour yourselves a glass of wine), and simply communicate to each other about the questions and expectations both of you have regarding the desired freedom.
In some cases, it may help to write things down; make it fun; a “contract” of sorts in which both of you agree to these “terms.”
Without communication, we are left with our own thoughts and sometimes (most times), that can lead us down a rabbit hole of negative thought patterns. Does he not love me? Does he not enjoy time with me? Is it something I’m doing wrong?
Conflict occurs when the individuals in the relationship are not on the same page.
Think about it; Why do any of us argue? Because he doesn’t understand! Because she expects too much from me! Get on the same page and you’ll see how your relationship changes (for the good).
Cecily Alvarez, RMHCI – www.caringforthemindtherapy.com
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