Everyone, at one point or another wants to find love or has been in love and of course the Beatles famously serenaded that “all you need is Love”, forever cementing our desire to experience the most complex of human emotions, however most of us have also realized that maintaining love is not that easy, most of the time it is a constant battle between personal wants and your significant other’s wants. Anyone who reads up on psychology will tell you that ego is central to the human experience, and most of our day to day problems with relationships occur due to the mismanagement of this immeasurable phenomenon.
Something that I discovered during my graduate studies of Marriage and couple therapy was the significance of agency and community. Agency is the concept of individuality where the person in the relationship has a “bucket” of her/his wants and must dos with all that entails them as individuals apart from the relationship. Community stands for the concept of the partnership where you take time to invest in activities and emotions concerning each other as a couple. According to the science, a relationship reaches its ideal state when there is a consistent balance of agency and community. Where mutual respect for each other’s agency is honored and the partnership aspect is nurtured from time to time.
There is no easy way to make a relationship work, as some of us have what we call insecure attachments which make it difficult to automatically decide to become more agentic and community oriented in perfect balance. However, with this knowledge in mind it is likely that if you put in some effort to invest in your agency and respect your partners agency the ability to sustain and enrich your relationship will only increase as time goes by.
Tips on how to balance agency and community better
1. Even if you hate it, spend time alone.
2. Learn to enjoy your “me only” days
3. Cultivate an interest which does not involve your partner
4. Encourage them to do something without you (ie; hang out with your guy friends, girlfriends etc.)
5. Schedule moments which are exclusive just for the two of you, no distractions, digital free.
The idea behind this formula is a practical one, striking a balance is a popular mantra these days, however we are never quite told “how” to do the balancing. The simple formula of Personal Agency + Community = Secure attachment is possibly one of the most simplistic concepts to help you keep your personal life and love life intact.
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