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A healthy relationship should always strive on one golden rule: You are together because you choose to be, not because you have to be. You and your partner are still two completely different individuals with totally separate wants, needs, and aspirations. The following list summarizes the main points one should keep in mind in order to have a relationship that feels as liberating as being single and as warm and loving as being committed to the one you love.

You are together but allowed to be apart.

There’s nothing worse than feeling guilty for wanting to do something your significant other doesn’t. If that other person gives you a guilt trip about going off and doing what makes you happy, they are clearly only concerned with their own happiness and not yours.

You each have your own goals.

Being a couple doesn’t mean you have to work towards the same things. You may share similar goals and aspirations, but no two people have the same exact dream. Even if the two of you are artists, one of you may dream of being a classical artist like Van Gogh, while the other may see themselves as a daring graffiti artist like Banksy. Either way, it’s important to work on your own happiness, separately, while eventually planning to take over the world together.

You each have your own group of friends.

The best part of a new relationship is getting to make new friends. You get to surround yourself with your partners’ friends and meet the people that were there for him/her way before you came along. The second best part of a new relationship, is introducing your new love interest to all of your friends. Aside from the initial awkwardness, you know your friends are happy because you’re happy. And eventually, your friends and your partner’s friends become one giant awesome new circle! This is often a sign of a strong and healthy relationship.

You compliment each other’s separate accomplishments.

There may come a time when you fall into a deep well of desperation. You may lose your job, have no money, or just feel like you are completely lost in life. It is important that when you are feeling this way, remember to not take it out on your relationship or your partner. It’s okay to feel sad and express how you feel, but it is not okay to act passive aggressive or feel jealousy or hostility towards your partner because things are going better for them than they are for you. Remember, misery loves company, so try not to fall into that trap.

You encourage each other to be alone.

The biggest mistake most couples make is jumping into a relationship and completely ditching the single lifestyle they used to live. Everyone knows that being single has its perks so why abandon that lifestyle all together? It’s okay to let your partner go out with his or her friends while you stay in and order takeout and binge-watch your favorite show. Trust me, you both deserve it!

You both know that you are thinking about each other even when it’s not expressed.

It is normal to miss you partner when you are apart. It’s hard to go from sharing every waking second t with them, to all of a sudden not having someone to crack those inside jokes with. But even when you are physically apart, people in healthy relationships should always know that the other person is thinking about them, and you don’t have to text each other incessantly or call every 5 seconds to prove that.

Your time apart only confirms that you are meant to be together.

When you go off on a trip without your significant other every single person that tries to make a move on you only makes you miss your “bae” even more. They don’t laugh as cute as your partner does, they’re not as funny as your partner is, and they just don’t get you like your partner does!

Your friends invite both of you out because they know you are still fun to be around; even as a couple.

There’s nothing worse than having a significant other that your friends can’t stand to be around. Whether it’s because your friends think your partner sucks or simply because they say you act different when you are around them, this is a tell-tale sign that there is something majorly wrong in your relationship.

Your friends don’t consider you a “normal” couple.

When you and your single friends get together they tend to make silly assumptions about couples like: “Don’t they get sick of each other?” or “Don’t they wonder what it’s like to sleep with someone else for a change?” But somehow you and your partner are always the exception to the rule. Your friends always seem to turn around and say “But not you guys of course! You guys aren’t a ‘normal’ couple.”

People assume you are going to spend the rest of your lives together even when you don’t.

Sometimes when you have something so wonderful and awesome, you don’t go around flaunting because you are scared of messing it up or jinxing it. But others see what you and your partner have and they know you will be together forever, even when you don’t want to admit it yourself.

You laugh when other people swear you’re single.

You and your partner have such an amazing relationship, it reflects in every aspect of your life. You guys make each other better people and because of that you tend to act so happy-go-lucky that people just assume that you are single. You giggle to yourself because you know the secret. The key is to be your own person and be liberated while still loving and trusting your partner.