Autonomy In Relationships (7 Ways To Keep Your Independence In Relationship)

Last updated on June 7, 2022 by April Maccario

A concise definition of autonomy relationship is emotional independence; very few people are aware of this concept. Even outside romantic relationships, we live in a world where so many people remain co-dependent, even to the point of becoming entitled

Some people are dependent on their Governments, some on their parents or siblings, others are entirely unaware that they ought to be autonomous to some degree. Maintaining your autonomy, especially while you’re in a relationship, is quite fulfilling and will make it easy for others to relate with you.

Healthy relationships ride on self-determination, love, and intimacy between two partners. Independence doesn’t suggest or encourage power struggles, it just makes the relationship a bit more healthy and also ensures that you can land on your feet again if the relationship has to end. 

As a woman, and by experience, I understand how empowering emotional independence is, and I wish every woman would embrace this. 

If you’re just getting familiar with the concept of autonomy and you’d like to know how to keep it alive in your relationship, then stick around while I guide you through 7 ways you can keep your autonomy in marriage.   

Maintaining Autonomy In A Relationship - 7 Ways To Do It

1. Be aware of who you are

Knowing your identity is the starting point or foundation of autonomy in your relationships. Many people define aspects of their identity with respect to the uniqueness of the people around them. This includes their family members, friends, co-workers, etc. Yes, this is sometimes necessary, but it's quite important to know and maintain the core values and mantras you live by. 

For example, self-determination rides on your gender, religion, ethnicity, ethical views, talents, and accomplishments. Don’t let a loved one unconsciously or intentionally swallow up your identity, especially if he’s a bit more assertive than you are. In healthy relationships, partners should respect boundaries; each partner should feel comfortable being themselves.

2. Maintain your social circles and support system 

maintain your social circles and support system

Being in a serious, committed relationship should not imply the death of your other relationships. Make sure to keep your friendships alive and your relationship with your family members as well. They’re the people that’ll help you maintain a good and healthy sense of self. 

Try your best not to fall into the trap of making him your everything, as cliche as this is; it is not very healthy. You both need support systems and people you can lean on, outside yourselves. For your own well-being, don’t get drowned in the love and intimacy you share to the point of locking everyone else out. 

3. Pursue your interests and opinions

Your likes and dislikes make you who you are, discovering what they are will not only help you understand and define your identity but could also be very eye-opening and fun in the process. Don’t apologize for enjoying the things you do or disliking other things, it's who you are; you should never be made to feel as if these things are irrelevant or weird

Always make time to do the things you love. Whether you do them with your spouse or on your own, the freedom to do what you love increases your sense of autonomy. 

4. Treasure personal space and time

Partners need some alone time now and then, being in each other's faces all the time might be unhealthy. Personal time and space are two significant factors in an individual's life and their relationships. There’s nothing wrong with stepping away to enjoy some time alone with yourself. 

In these times, you discover who you are in the present and who you’re becoming (evolving into). This is quite important for your growth as a person. Both individuals in a relationship need to discover and understand themselves continuously, so they can maintain their sense of self outside the intimacy, and time they spend together.

5. Acknowledge and respect each other's differences

Just because you and your partner agree on most things, doesn’t mean you're the same person. You will still have differences in your personalities, ideas, views, opinions, etc. This is not a bad thing, it's what makes every individual special. 

Acknowledging and respecting your partner’s differences, will, in turn, help you appreciate your differences and therefore make it easier to maintain your sense of autonomy.

6. Embrace your individualism

embrace your individualism

You both are two different people, don’t fight that, instead embrace it. The statement or idea that “You are one” is quite sweet and a bit dangerous to live by. The ‘we are one’ concept usually entails thinking like the other person, sharing the same opinions, doing what the other person does, etc. 

People don't really understand that a relationship is a small team, and every team includes more than one person. If you both aim to be the same person, that defeats the purpose of a healthy relationship. Maintaining your sense of self even when or if it causes some friction in the relationship is key to keeping your autonomy.   

7. Self-soothing

 It's not everything you should depend on your partner for; there are some personal battles you would need to fight on your own. That way, you’d still be yourself no matter how long your relationship lasts. If you’re in some type of rut, whether emotional or mental, acknowledge your feelings and feel them

Find what calms you in times like these, and then you can strategically work through the challenge. A significant part of autonomy in a relationship is maintaining your internal guidance system, rather than always depending on your partner. Living by someone else’s direction is not very fulfilling and will encourage co-dependence.  


What is autonomy in a relationship?

Autonomy in a relationship is the act of taking complete responsibility for your thoughts and actions in that relationship. Contrary to what some people think, it does not mean being independent or rebellious, or careless; it actually means personal validation of your actions while being committed to your partner. 

How do you keep your autonomy in a relationship?

You can do this by giving your partner space to be himself. Try to be with someone who also encourages and practices autonomy, this will make things way easier for you. Be honest about your wants and feelings, and don’t be afraid to share them with your partner and encourage them to do so as well.

What does having autonomy mean?

Autonomy is simply the effort a person puts into acting on their interests and values; it directly translates to ‘self-governance’ in ancient Greek. Being autonomous requires a healthy amount of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-respect. To be independent, you’d also have to be clear about your values and what you stand for. 

What are the 5 stages of relationships?

Every relationship moves through 5 major stages, sometimes more than once or even in a cycle. These 5 stages include; the merge, doubt, denial, disillusionment, the decision, and wholehearted love. These stages could also be viewed as seasons instead of stepping stones to one ultimate and final outcome. 

Why is autonomy so important?

People need to know they’re free and that they have the freedom to make their own choices. That sense of being in control of your life is important for every individual and especially for people in relationships. Entering into a new relationship could affect your sense of autonomy, making it even more important to work on being autonomous in your relationship.

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To Conclude

I hope you enjoyed this write-up. Remember, maintaining your autonomy in a relationship is essential; don’t allow anything or anyone to compromise your independence, and refuse to become a mental slave to anyone. If you found this article helpful, please let me know what you think in the comment section below and remember to share.  

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April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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