I wanted to reply, purely because your latest post resonated. I too have always been very independent in relationships...
For me personally, I think it partly stems from my strong need for personal space/autonomy. But also because I believe no one person can ever meet all my needs, and I certainly wouldn’t expect them to meet all my needs either, which feeds into my need to maintain a certain independence (or call it what you will) in romantic relationships.
Plus I really enjoy spending time in small groups and communities, which an intimate relationship can’t give me...so I’m that mix of both needing space for myself and wanting to be with others :)
For those reasons, I have always maintained a strong sense of self and put in time for other relationships in my life, such as aunts, cousins, friends, etc :)
Please don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that I don’t value all the beautiful things that a romantic relationship can provide me, and I get that my way may not suit everyone...
But for me at least, I need a fair amount of independence in relationships. In turn, I have always given exes space when they needed it, was happy to sometimes do things alone/with other people and actively encouraged them to maintain their other relationships in life.
I don’t know if that’s everyone else’s definition of “independence” in relationships is the same/different to mine. Mine is simply one of (many) perspectives to look at relationships ;)
In terms of self definition, my possibly unsatisfactory answer is “it depends.” I don’t think there’s one strict way that I see myself. My self perception changes, but overall I recognise some core/consistent traits.
In terms of relationships, I don’t necessarily “define” myself by them but I also don’t not define myself by them either. I integrate relationships into my self identity, but I don’t necessarily completely define myself by them either.
I suppose that I define aspects of myself based on relationships, but aspects of myself based on other things like self perception, etc.
Thanks for reading this long, and possibly tedious, post :)