How Much Independence Keeps a
Relationship Healthy?

Val Baldwin, CPC
Live Your Ultimate Life

When it comes to independence in relationships, this subject can be a big cause of conflict for many couples. To meet both partners needs can sometimes be a very tricky thing. Feelings get hurt, individuals feel guilty, and it can be hard for partners to understand what their other half is feeling and needing in regards to time together and time apart. If you understand and keep these following concepts in mind, it won’t have to become a battlefield for you and your sweetie to create the right amount of independence for both of you.

Ask Yourself: Where You Are On The 24/7 vs Independent Scale?


The two extremes:

24/7 people: When a 24/7 person is in a relationship, they love to spend all their time with their partner. They can’t imagine wanting to spend time with anyone else and have a hard time understanding if their partner wants to spend time away from them. They are committed and devoted to their partner completely and truly love being with them. The more time together the better for these people.

Independent people: These kinds of people usually have lots of friends, interests and hobbies. They love to be with their partner but absolutely need to have their space and the freedom to be with other friends and other interests. It’s not that they love their partner any less than a 24/7 person. They just need more space in their relationships or they will feel claustrophobic.

The biggest conflict and challenge comes from couples that are at opposite ends of the scale. These couples are trying to have their own needs met and have a hard time understanding how their partner could feel so differently than them.


Some Independent Time is Healthy and Revitalizing For All Relationships.
No matter where you are on the scale, some time apart adds freshness and excitement in a relationship. This creates new and interesting topics for you to share with each other at the end of the day. It’s also important to keep strong bonds with your own friends and continue in the pursuit of your own talents and interests. To create a stronger couple together you should always continue to grow and improve yourself independently as well.

The Solution: Create a Balance for You Both

Follow these 4 steps:

  1. Schedule a meeting time to discuss this subject openly and honestly with your partner.
  2. Where are you on the 24/7 vs Independent scale? Remember there is no right or wrong on this scale. It’s a matter of creating a win-win relationship for both of you. Share with your partner where you believe you fall on the scale. If you are extremely 24/7 then rate yourself a 1-3. If you are extremely Independent, then somewhere between 7-10 would be your range. Many people fall right in the middle which would be in the 4-6 range.
  3. Come prepared to share your vision of an “ideal week” with your partner. Tell each other how much time you would ideally spend together and how much time apart. Articulate how often you prefer to be e-mailing or calling during the day or during a week. Do you ever feel claustrophobic with being with your partner too much or feel neglected that you partner doesn’t spend enough time with you? Express your wishes and desires of how you would like it to be. Your feelings should be delivered in a loving and honest way, not in a critical and complaining way.
  4. Now that you are clear on each other’s needs, create a happy compromise for you both. Be conscious of your partners needs and take action to meet those needs. Discuss what you can live with and what you can’t. Create an “ideal week” that works for both of you. If you don’t have a clear vision of what you want….how will you know how to achieve it or when you’ve gotten there?

If you are more independent than your partner: Consciously keep in mind when you’ve been unavailable a lot. You need to take action to reconnect and give them the time they need from you. If you’re out of town and your partner requests you call home every day to connect….then do it happily! Or suggest something like “hey sweetie, I know I’ve been really busy the last few days….how about I take you to dinner tomorrow night to catch up and be together? I miss you”.

If you are more 24/7 than your partner: Remember that their independence doesn’t mean they care any less about you. Being independent is part of who they are and they would react the same to whomever they were with. If your partner really loves their every Thursday night painting class or weekly golfing foursome, then don’t give them grief and go pursue something that makes you happy too.

The bottom line is you don’t have to be exactly the same on the 24/7 – Independent scale to have a happy workable relationship. One extreme is not better than the other. The key is to be clear about your own needs and where you are on the scale. Be understanding of your partners needs and be willing to create a win-win for both of you to feel loved, healthy and balanced.

Close This Window