Subtle Signs Your Partner Is Trying To Undermine Your Independence

Independence in a relationship can be a tricky business, no doubt. Of course, everyone is different, which means everyone's relationships are different too, so it can sometimes be difficult to realize if you're in a situation where your partner is trying to undermine your independence.

Every healthy relationship needs some independence from both partners to make it work. "Successful, healthy relationships allow for the both people to form a bond which lets them to not only grow together but also to grow independently as people. It's essential to have your own sense of autonomy while feeling you can depend on each other," relationship etiquette expert Mara Opperman explained to Bustle, noting that those who feel forced to give up things they love or parts of themselves when they get into a new relationship will often end up feeling unfulfilled.

But how do you know what's healthy and what's not when it comes to your independence in your relationship? Is your partner just trying to feel closer to you, or is it something more sinister? Well, there are a few subtle signs you'll want to keep an eye out for that will help you determine if this really is the person for you.

You're losing your connection with your family and friends

If you're in a relationship and you're finding yourself having less and less interaction with your nearest and dearest, that could be a problem. While it's only logical that your priorities will shift and you'll want to spend time with your partner (naturally having less time for those you used to spend your days with), there needs to be a healthy balance. If it's your choice to put more of a focus on your partner, that's one thing, but if they're regularly encouraging you to skip that meal with your friends or that day out with your family, it could be a red flag.

Ask yourself why they seem to be intent on keeping you away from those who bring you joy. Is it because they want to be the only one that makes you happy? Is it because they have a personal issue with your friends and family? Do they feel left out? Or have you just not been able to spend much time together recently? If you feel the issue goes beyond wanting to just spend a healthy amount of time with you, think seriously about if this is a healthy situation. "Two people aren't going to agree on everything, but they can be on the same team about each other's happiness," dating coach Evan Marc Katz told Elite Daily, so if someone doesn't want you to do something that makes you happy and fulfilled, that's a problem.

They don't respect your boundaries

One of the most important things to remember in any relationship is to never compromise on your boundaries. Clinical psychologist Megan Fleming probably said it best to Bustle when she stated, "Don't give up your core values to be in a relationship. Figure out what's most important to you and don't lose sight of that." If you're vocalizing your boundaries when it comes to your own independence (maybe you'd prefer them not to tag along on a night out with your friends) and they're repeatedly ignoring them despite your efforts to explain why that time away is important for you (just remember to be explicit here, as your partner isn't a mind reader), this may not be the person for you.

Setting boundaries and having your partner respect them is one of the most fundamental foundations of your relationship, and it's near impossible to be in a positive situation if your boundaries can't be respected. After all, if your non-negotiables start changing, so will you. "When one loses their identity in a relationship, it completely changes the relationship dynamic, which can actually be detrimental to a satisfying relationship for both partners," licensed clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, Judy Ho, told The Knot.

They don't want you to have time alone

Of course, particularly in the early days of a new romance, it's a natural feeling to want to spend every single spare moment of every single day with that person you're falling in love with. But if that person is forcing themselves into a position of being with you 24/7, you may want to take a step back and look at what's really going on. Enjoying some time alone is just as important as spending time with your partner, friends, or family, as it allows you to be able to get a better perspective on what's going on in your life and take some time out to think about what you want, Theresa DiDonato, Ph.D., explained to Psychology Today. So why wouldn't your partner respect that?

If you feel like there's some kind of reason why they're not comfortable with you even spending an evening by yourself, it may be time to question why they're so worried about you being able to reflect on the relationship you're developing. After all, if it's strong and healthy, allowing you to take stock of it will likely only make it more so. What you're aiming for in your relationship is interdependency, whereby you're great together but good on your own too, not codependency, where you're both almost reliant on each other to function properly.

Remember that your interests are important too

Always remember that what you like and what you want is just as important and valid as your partner's interests and needs. If your other half makes a habit of suggesting your likes and hobbies are shallow or not worth caring about, yet makes out theirs are highbrow and important, that could potentially be an attempt to undermine and control you or discourage you from having your own interests outside of them — all while ruining your self-esteem. "[Your relationship] should make you feel secure, supported, and connected, and if that's not what you're getting, you're probably getting more pain than love and growth," Dr. Sherry Benton, founder and chief science officer of TAO Connect, told Brides.

It's important to confront this kind of behavior head on and talk to your partner about how you're feeling, as they may not even realize the impact their negative words are having on you. If your other half knows they're upsetting you, they should be working on themselves to rectify their behavior and make you feel more supported. But if they're not willing to do or aren't even willing to talk through the issue with you, they may not be The One.

They don't like you voicing your own opinions or being ambitious

You're never going to agree on everything with your partner, that's just life. And what sometimes makes things interesting! But if you don't feel like you're even able to voice your opinion if it doesn't match your partner's thoughts and feelings, that's rarely a good sign for your romance. If every time you open your mouth you feel like you're being talked down to or undermined by your partner, you may be being stifled and not even realize it. Just like you were when you were single, you should be able to voice your opinions freely and have thought-provoking conversations whenever you like.

Similarly, if you have big dreams but your partner doesn't like you talking about or doing all you can to follow them, that's not a supportive relationship. Of course, sometimes it can be scary to hear your partner has big aspirations that could take them to places far away from where you are, but you should always feel like you have someone by your side who's willing to stay there through thick and thin. "A partner should always support you in following your dreams — in reaching for whatever goals in life feel important to you," clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly explained to Bustle. "This is so important because we often look to our partners to have a little bit of faith in us, particularly when our own faith has hit a low spot."