Individual Psychotherapy, Couples Counseling + Sex Therapy

Therapy Tidbits: How to Be Happy in a Relationship – Premarital Counseling

People in relationships often struggle to hold onto their own identity within the partnership.  This is not necessarily gendered or specific to opposite sex relationships.

A long-term relationship (LTR) is the coming together of two individuals choosing to live their lives together.  It really isn’t the romantic notion of “two becoming one.”  This idea seems to pervade our society as a whole.  However, this way of thinking takes a toll on LTR’s because it causes a lack of separation, and overall loss of self-identity.

Living “together yet separate” and “separate yet together” is a healthy way of envisioning a relationship.  To keep each partner intrigued and interested in a LTR, it is important to continue having your own interests and separate time/space.  It is important to continue engaging in the activities that give you energy and make you feel alive, especially if/when your partner is not interested in the same things.  This keeps you engaged in your own life, which actually brings you closer to your partner and helps you stay together – keeping you both healthy and engaged in life.  Though it may seem counter-intuitive, these separate interests give you something to discuss and make you interesting to one another in the long-term.

Continuing to engage in interests of your own will also prevent unconscious resentment and bitterness toward a partner.  When we don’t engage in activities that give us joy after we are “together” with a partner, it may feel as though he/she/they is keeping you from being your true and authentic self.

Think of ways you may choose to be “together yet separate” or “separate yet together” in the future.  How are you holding yourself back?  Is there too much together?  Is there too much separate?  Finding a balance between the two is key.


Kimberly Atwood is a licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist in private practice in Princeton, NJ and Doylestown, PA.  She specializes in sexual health, intimacy and relationship issues.  For more information, please check out her website at

Kimberly Atwood, MA, LPC
New clients may schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation. Please let me know some times that work for you.
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