Are you one of those people that is just fine doing projects on your own? In fact — maybe that’s the way you prefer it? You’ve got your ideas of how to do things, you’re perfectly capable of solving problems yourself, and you want to get things done. You’re a self-starting independent worker, which means working at length with teams of people might drive you crazy. But what if you’re in a relationship with a more community-minded person? Someone who really needs more connection than you feel like you have capacity to give? How do you deal with thatdilemma?
If you are that person: Understand that we all need some level of connection, including yourself. Think of the times in your life when you have connected well. Was it one-on-one? In small groups? In large groups, but maybe for shorter amounts of time? When your loved one is asking for more emotional connection from you, tap into the times it was going well. Remind yourself that your independence is not threatened — you can still have that. But for this moment, it’s time to be present and mindful of the needs of others who aren’t as independent as you. It’s probably not going to be helpful to lecture them on their need for independence, or try and pull away. Give a little, and remember that they just need connection.
If that’s your loved one: So, if the shoe’s on the other foot, and you need more connection from your very independent partner, learn to ask for what you need in a non-threatening, non-critical, non-judgmental way. It might sound like, “I really get that you are a very independent person, and I want to honor that. However, when we spend so much time apart, I feel lonely. I need time with you. Can we perhaps schedule that?” Be willing to make compromises, to give them space, and to schedule. Be willing to protect their independence just as much as you want them to protect your relationship. When we are empathetic and continue to ask for what we need in non-threatening ways, softened ways, we get much better results.
If you’re not sure where you stand on the scale — How independent are you really? — take ten minutes to take our free assessment: The Core Values Index.