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As Independence Day approaches (opens in new tab), I want to make sure I see beyond the beers and BBQ to remember why we are all celebrating. Independence is such a beautiful thing, and I shouldn't take it for granted.
My idea of dating independence is being able to do whatever I want on Sunday morning (e.g., no Sunday brunch required), seeing my buddies often, and having control of the remote when we watch TV (opens in new tab). I also don't want to be responsible for someone's entire mood. I don't ask for much.
How do you strike gold in a relationship, and maintain freedom and independence within that relationship? We should take lessons from the Revolutionary War. Here are some ideas:
Don't Check Up
The Colonists must have been annoyed at the Imperial Government when it checked up on their affairs. The modern-day equivalent to this is texting and calling over and over: "Where are you? Why haven't you called me back?" (opens in new tab) It's especially crippling when a guy is with his buddies and that correspondence comes in. Guys are guilty of this too, and it really turns a girl off.
Don't Show Up Unannounced
My favorite move the Imperial Government made on the Colonists was the Quartering Act (opens in new tab). Obnoxiously, the Imperial Government decreed that Colonists must provide housing and provisions for British troops...any time, any place. Sometimes I feel like girlfriends are enforcing their own Quartering Act on me: They do the surprise show-up, interrupting my important TV-watching schedule and forcing me to put on something other than my boxers that I've worn for four straight days (opens in new tab). For some significant others, it's a rite of passage: "I can just drop by there whenever I want." But sometimes, it handcuffs that other person who might have been planning to do nothing that day and definitely wasn't prepared for "significant other time."
Allow Them to Do Their Own Thing
Remember, jolly old England fueled the anger of the colonies by imposing its will upon us. Paranoia sets in when someone else is doing their own thing without you — it's a loss of control. The paranoia leads to conflict. You have to swallow your pride and let your significant other do their own thing. My buddies and I get together to watch Ravens games (opens in new tab). Some girlfriends come along even though they did not grow up as Ravens fans. They really shouldn't be there, in my opinion. Most women would be annoyed if their guy came along with their four girlfriends for manis and pedis (opens in new tab)...or maybe they'd be happy, who knows?
Make Sure You Do Your Own Thing
Now, the girlfriends who don't come along to watch the Ravens are relieved to get their boyfriend away because they have things they want to do sometimes without the boyfriend. I find that attractive. There's no need to attend every event with your significant other. (opens in new tab) The girlfriends who force themselves to suddenly be Ravens fans look less independent than those girlfriends who do their own thing on game day. I wonder: Do you have anything to do outside of what your boyfriend does?
Don't Depend on Them to Make You Happy
The Imperial Government loved our tobacco and other goods. But they should have known they were the most powerful force in the world at the time, and they were pretty darn great. As soon as you can't make yourself happy (opens in new tab) and you depend on your significant other for all that happiness, you become overbearing and dependent.
My buddy's girlfriend from Texas moved in with him for the summer. After a few days, his entire apartment was converted to a Texas Longhorn fanhouse (opens in new tab). He had the towels in the bathroom and all sorts of Texas Longhorn paraphernalia. She colonized him. But it goes both ways, because he allowed himself to be colonized. It's usually a struggle based on strength of personality. Hopefully, it nets out evenly.
The Atlantic Ocean did not provide enough space to keep the Colonists and British from fighting. If you both allow each other room (you don't need an ocean, but just a little space), it will keep a good rhythm for your relationship. And sometimes we do need an "ocean" to separate us. Make sure you do an annual trip with your girlfriends, or get lost in work for a while (opens in new tab). It will make the time you actually see your significant other that much sweeter, and he will appreciate the time he gets to himself. It's easy for claustrophobia to set in.
What do guys do that make them look too dependent, and how do you think you should keep independence within a relationship? What are your thoughts on my points above?
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/richravens (opens in new tab)
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