A healthy relationship supports each partner’s growth and development as an individual. This card encourages you to treat individuality as a vital part of relating. Far from being a threat to closeness, honoring individuality allows relationships to be rich and full.

Individuality is like a garden of the self. This garden holds all the seedlings and plants that grow within the area called “me.” These plants consist of your talents, interests, pursuits, characteristics, and whatever you value in life.

The card INDIVIDUALITY asks you to truly honor your own uniqueness – your forms of self-expression, your tastes, your likes, and your dislikes. Even in the closeness of a committed relationship, it’s vital to respect your own boundaries – and those of your partner. Boundaries are what define, and even protect, the garden of your individuality. Sometimes fences are necessary to allow young seedlings their own space to mature and grow strong.

As an individual, it is your responsibility to ensure that all of your own seedlings are watered, fed, and cared for – cared for by the self, a wise and nurturing gardener. The job of each partner is to honor his or her unique sense of self. Each of you needs to take care of your own garden – feeding, watering, and weeding it, never letting it dry out or go barren. Take time to do the things you like. Pursue your interests. Respect your differences – and even learn to celebrate them!

It’s not always easy to fully honor one’s individuality in the context of a relationship. Is there anything that tends to keep you from doing this? Do you ever pay more attention to others than to yourself? Do you believe it is “selfish” or “uncaring” to focus on your own garden – especially if others are voicing what they need? Do you feel it is “wrong” to have a fence around your garden, that you shouldn’t have any boundaries, that you should never say “no” to someone?

The card INDIVIDUALITY serves warning that when your boundaries get too fuzzy, you tend to take on the feelings and attitudes of a partner. In doing so, you lose track of your own feelings, wants, and needs. You forget to explore and develop who you really are. Though you may have great intentions of connecting with and supporting a partner, you are neglecting a primary responsibility of relating. That responsibility is to nurture yourself as an individual. If you do not do this, you are doing your relationship a disservice.

If you are neglecting your individuality, you need to open your heart more deeply to yourself – to your own needs, your wants, your desires, and your pursuits as an individual. Caring for your own garden is good for you and your relationship, because it supports you in being a whole person and enriches your ability to interact with another person.

Of course, individuality doesn’t mean walling yourself off from others or becoming an island. Boundaries are like gates. They close and open. You can stroll out and admire a partner’s garden. The point is to move fluidly between merging and separateness – to move easily between communing with your partner and having your own sense of self. The point is to know the “I” as well as the “we.”