The True Meaning of Autonomy

I always talk about the importance of connection; that we are a relationship species and tend to feel more secure when we have meaningful relationships in our lives. This includes our intimate relationship as well; we tend to battle the blues less when we have someone with whom we are sharing life.

And yet we also know that autonomy within relationships is important; that if we don’t have a secure sense of self, we can look to the other in order to feel whole. It is important then to look at what the true meaning of autonomy is within the context of a relationship.

We all loved that moment in Jerry MaGuire when Tom Cruise said to Renee Zellweger “You complete me.” Talk about feeling swooned – it brought with it the power to re-visit every fairy tale we believed in when we were children. We have always been led to believe that “two becomes one” when we choose our life partner. And to some degree that is true as we become a team, building a home and life together. It is where we can lean into feeling secure, comforted and safe.

The one thing they failed to tell us was that our life partner is meant to compliment our life, as we are to theirs.  That we come to a relationship with our qualities and personalities intact, that we have our own interests, likes and dislikes and that for true autonomy, we have to be able to feel that we can continue to honour those interests within the context of the relationship.

If you like to travel and your partner doesn’t, you should still be free to travel. If your partner likes to watch football and you have no interest, let him have the plans that come with the game. Autonomy means having the freedom to pursue your own interests while at the same time keeping balance and the relationship in the equation. That means making sure to plan activities that you can do together; it means once in a while she travels with you, once in a while, you make nachos and join your partner for the game. 🙂

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