Sometimes relationship writers—including me—paint with too broad a brush. It’s tempting to generalize issues as we discuss them, especially when it comes to dating! In reality, dating is as individual as the people going on dates, which means there’s no one way to do it.
I first discovered this when I was single. While I found a lot of great, biblical dating advice, there wasn’t much for my independent personality. I struggled to reconcile my desire for a relationship with my desire for independence, the two of which I’d been told (inaccurately) were at odds with one another. If you’re a fellow independent with mixed feelings about the dating scene, this short “guide” is for you.
Independent Girl Prob: The idea of a relationship sounds awesome. It also sounds suffocating.
Solution: Being in a relationship doesn’t mean giving up who you are; it’s simply walking out your identity next to someone else. Your boyfriend should also be pursuing the call God has on his life, which means you won’t be suffocating one another—you’ll be supporting one another! As one quote puts it, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together the same direction.”
If the only relationships you’ve witnessed have been the “suffocating” kind, remember that your relationship doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. If you’re fine with seeing your boyfriend only once or twice a week (as opposed to your best friend’s must-have daily outings), communicate that to him and listen to his input. You don’t have to replicate the actions of others to have a good relationship; good relationships happen when two people acknowledge their needs and personalities, making the relationship work for them.
Independent Girl Prob: You’re afraid you’re too strong-willed for a relationship.
Solution: A relationship can be a great way to learn compromise and selflessness. It won’t be easy; it will be sanctifying! You may indeed be too strong-willed for a relationship in the eyes of others, but if you are humble and willing to learn, a relationship can help you grow.
It’s wise to consider the state of your heart and walk with God before entering a relationship. If you know you’re struggling with a stubborn spirit, then maybe a season of waiting is best. But sometimes a relationship will teach us what singleness could not. If you need to learn flexibility and communication, the best way to learn is through family, friends and dating relationships.
Read more about being a strong-willed woman in this post.
Independent Girl Prob: You want your space, and aren’t sure any guy would put up with the amount of space you need.
Solution: All relationships need a healthy amount of distance to thrive, whether that distance is in vicinity or time. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t “need” to see your boyfriend every day of the week (in fact, you’d rather not), this is actually quite normal for independent types. In fact, it may be the equipment you need for God’s eventual call on your life and marriage.
In order for this to be a productive part of your relationship rather than a source of conflict, you must communicate often about it. Be open to the needs of your boyfriend, especially concerning your time and attention. Being independent is great; being selfish is not.
My own independent spirit equipped me for my marriage. Our first year of marriage, my husband and I were separated by work for six months. In our second year, my husband traveled overnight several days to weeks out of each month. What could have been a source of conflict in our dating relationship ended up equipping me for difficult seasons ahead—but we had to communicate about it!
Independent Girl Prob: You’re afraid of losing your “freedom.”
Solution: Relationships don’t inhibit freedom. They grant new opportunities for learning and growth. If you want to expand your horizons more than ever before, a relationship will call you to a deeper level of sacrifice, wisdom, patience and selflessness.
If you’re avoiding relationships because you’re afraid of losing your free will, you don’t need to worry. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you lose your identity or your dreams; you simply walk next to someone else as you pursue them, and help them to achieve their own goals. Will it take more communication? Yes. Will you need to pay more attention to another person’s needs? Yes. But this is just part of life! Don’t avoid a relationship because of fear. If you are ready to jump in with all your independent spirit has given you, lay your hopes in God’s hands and wait to see which doors He opens.