7 things you don’t owe anyone, even in a close relationship

Relationships are strange, complicated, and beautiful beasts. They can bring us the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, often in the same breath.

There’s a delicate balance between maintaining your individuality and making necessary compromises to keep the relationship healthy and flourishing.

As I’ve traversed the complex terrain of my own relationships, I’ve come to learn that there are certain things we just don’t owe anyone, even in our closest relationships.

In this article, I’ve outlined 7 things that you are absolutely not obligated to provide for others. Recognizing these can lead to healthier boundaries, greater self-respect, and ultimately more fulfilling connections.

1) Your past

Your past is yours and yours alone. It’s a collection of experiences, mistakes, triumphs, and lessons that have shaped you into the person you are today.

You may choose to share your past with someone close to you, offering them a glimpse into the formative moments and experiences that have molded your character. But remember, this is a choice.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation or justification for your past actions or decisions. The past cannot be changed, and there is no obligation to defend it.

In close relationships, understanding and respect should be mutual. If you feel comfortable sharing your past, then do so but keep in mind it’s not a requirement. Your past does not define your worth in the present relationship.

2) Your alone time

Contrary to common belief, even in the closest relationships, you don’t owe anyone all of your time. The need for personal space and ‘me-time’ doesn’t evaporate simply because you’re deeply connected with someone.

Personal space is essential for individual growth and maintaining a sense of self outside the relationship. You don’t have to feel guilty for needing time to recharge or pursue your own interests independently.

Respecting your own need for space and solitude can actually strengthen your relationship by allowing you to bring back a refreshed perspective and renewed energy. 

3) Your dreams and ambitions

When we form close bonds, it’s easy to get swept up in the shared dreams and goals that come with a partnership. But amidst these shared aspirations, your personal dreams and ambitions should not be forgotten or compromised.

You don’t owe anyone the sacrifice of your own goals. A true friend, partner, or family member will support and encourage your individual aspirations, not hinder them. They should understand that your dreams are an integral part of who you are.

It’s okay to have ambitions that don’t directly involve your close ones. It’s okay to chase after these dreams, even if it means spending less time with them or moving in a different direction.

Your dreams and ambitions are yours to pursue, and you don’t owe anyone an apology for following your heart and striving for what truly matters to you.

4) Your personal beliefs

In an era of instant communication and constant exposure to a multitude of ideas, maintaining your personal beliefs can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.

From political ideologies to religious convictions, your personal beliefs are a fundamental part of your identity. They reflect your understanding of the world and guide your actions and decisions.

It’s a given fact that no two individuals can agree on everything, which is why healthy debate and exchange of ideas is the cornerstone of any thriving democratic society. However, you don’t owe anyone a change in your beliefs just to maintain harmony in a relationship.

Your close ones should respect your views, even if they differ from their own. It’s perfectly okay to stand firm in your beliefs, so long as they don’t infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others. 

Diversity in thought and opinion is what enriches our collective human experience.

5) Your emotions

Emotions, those complex psychological states that can make us feel on top of the world one moment and under it the next. They are the raw, unfiltered expressions of our inner selves.

Yet, how often do we find ourselves suppressing our true feelings for the sake of others? How often do we hide our pain, our anger, our sadness because we fear they might be too burdensome for those around us?

But here’s the truth – you don’t owe anyone the suppression of your emotions. Your feelings are valid, real, and entirely your own. You have every right to express them, to feel them, to live through them.

If you’re happy, let that joy shine out. If you’re hurting, don’t shy away from acknowledging that pain. Your close ones should provide a safe space for you to express your emotions without judgment or fear.

6) Your forgiveness

signs youre no longer in love with your partner according to psychology 1 7 things you don't owe anyone, even in a close relationship

Forgiveness is often painted as the ultimate act of love and understanding in a relationship. We are taught to forgive and forget, to let bygones be bygones. But what if that’s not always the right answer?

In a surprising twist, you don’t owe anyone your forgiveness, especially when it comes at the cost of your peace and well-being. Forgiveness is a deeply personal process that requires genuine remorse and change from the other party.

If someone close to you has wronged you, you have every right to hold them accountable. You don’t have to rush into forgiveness just to maintain the status quo.

True reconciliation cannot occur without acknowledgment of the hurt caused. Your decision to forgive should be based on your own readiness and not on external pressure. 

Remember, sometimes, choosing not to forgive is a vital part of self-care and preservation of your own emotional health.

7) Your personal choices

From the clothes you wear to the career you choose, your personal choices are just that – personal. These choices are a reflection of your preferences, your values, and your individualism.

It’s easy to feel obligated to conform to the expectations or desires of those around you. But remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation or validation for the choices you make.

Your decisions should be guided by what you believe is best for you. Even if your choices don’t align with what others think is right for you, it’s important to stand by them.

As long as your actions aren’t causing harm to others, you have the right to make decisions that reflect your authentic self. Whether others understand them or not, your personal choices are yours to make and own.

Setting boundaries in close relationships

The concept of boundaries can seem counterintuitive when it comes to close relationships. After all, aren’t we supposed to share everything with our loved ones, to be their rock, their confidante, their constant companion? 

However, setting clear and healthy boundaries is not about building walls or creating distance. It’s about establishing respect for personal space, individuality, and emotional well-being.

Boundaries are essentially the limits we set for ourselves within relationships. They help us define who we are and what we need from others. More importantly, they help us maintain our self-respect and prevent us from feeling used, overextended, or emotionally drained.

It’s critical to remember that setting boundaries is not a one-size-fits-all process. Each person has unique needs and priorities. What might feel like a necessary boundary for one person may seem unnecessary to another. 

The key is open communication and mutual respect. Discuss your needs with your close ones, explain why certain things matter to you, and listen when they do the same.

Despite our best intentions, there may be times when our boundaries are crossed. In such instances, standing firm in your decisions and expressing your feelings honestly can help reestablish those boundaries. 

Creating healthy boundaries doesn’t mean you care any less about the person on the other side of those boundaries. In fact, it signifies a deep respect for both your well-being and theirs. It’s about creating a relationship that fosters mutual growth and emotional health.

So as you navigate your close relationships, remember that it’s not just about what you give but also what you choose not to give. It’s about finding a balance between individuality and companionship, between giving and receiving, between love for others and love for self.

You don’t owe anyone anything that compromises your individuality, your well-being, or your peace. Your choices, your emotions, your dreams, your beliefs – they are yours. 

Protect them, respect them, cherish them. For in doing so, you respect and cherish the most important relationship of all – the one with yourself.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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