Whether you’re facing the first signs of a crush on a counterculturalist or you’re as committed as can be to your bohemian bae, you’ll inevitably be faced with an important realization: dating a free spirit comes with unique challenges. From constraining societal expectations (as well as your own) to competing interests and styles of life, it can take some work to reap the benefits of a relationship with a free spirit. Nevertheless, if you find yourself wanting to romance an unorthodox lover, the rewards can be well worth it. If you stay open-minded, embrace their passions and lifestyle preferences, and put in the effort to understand their unique way of thinking, you just might find that this free spirit is the love of your life.
Don’t try to change them.
If you’re looking to enter a relationship with a free spirit in hopes of changing them, whether that’s settling down, making commitments they’re not comfortable with, or giving up their hobby of researching astrology and the effect of their moon sign on their life, you’ll save both of you a lot of trouble by stopping before you even start. Falling in love with someone, or even enjoying a few casual dates, requires you to want to get to know them. That means you need to allow them to be themselves, not expect them to conform to a particular expectation. If you’re aiming to change your partner, what should be a loving relationship becomes nothing but unnecessary work for you both.
Forget whatever pop culture has told you about a free spirit. You aren’t dating the idea of a manic pixie dream girl—this is a real, live human being. If you go into this relationship expecting an in-real-life version of your favorite Zooey Deschanel character, you’ll only set yourself up for disappointment. Sure, they may share characteristics with a certain fictional personality. But, like in any relationship, it’s crucial to realize that they aren’t a character or even your perception of them—they’re a full person in and of themself. No matter how many boxes they check on the list of free spirit symptoms, your primary goal should be learning about them and what you both need from a relationship.
Give their interests a chance.
Your partner asking for your time of birth to compare your moon signs might take you by surprise. But, even if horoscopes, moon signs, sun signs, and astrology aren’t your style, going along with their enthusiasm will help build a stronger bond and show them how much you care. Browse gifts for your girlfriend that showcase her zodiac sign or yours—that thoughtful gift will show her that, regardless of whether you believe your zodiac sign compatibility is the reason your relationship works, you pay attention when she talks about her passions and keeps them in mind while shopping for the perfect gift. Ultimately, try to keep an open mind—if your significant other insists that acupuncture is the key to easing their chronic pain symptoms, allow them to enjoy that relief. You don’t need to start swearing by supplements or natural therapies yourself if you’re uncomfortable. But, if your partner asks for some help in researching the top alternative medicine practitioners in Medina, OH, lend them a hand without judgment. If naturopathy is their preferred sort of health care when it comes to the common cold, don’t insist it’s nonsensical—if it’s not hurting them or anyone else, let them be.
Most free spirits will agree that experiences always supersede material possessions. If you’re shopping for the best gift possible for your partner, consider gifting them an adventure they won’t forget rather than—or, better yet, in addition to—a piece of jewelry or other more conventional gift ideas. Have an astrology fan on your hands? Take them stargazing. Hopeless romantic? Plan a picnic with their favorite foods, complete with candles and champagne. A free spirit lives for adventure, cherishing the trip more than its eventual destination. Give them the experience to remember while on the journey that is your relationship.
Be flexible, if not spontaneous.
If you know nothing else about your free spirit, recognize that they truly embrace the unexpected. You won’t find them planning out your entire life together in detailed lists of goals—they prefer to go with the flow. If you diligently follow your time-blocked Google calendar, you might struggle to work with your partner’s spontaneity, much less see its appeal. At the very least, allow them the flexibility to change plans as needed and be understanding when those changes occur. If a spur of the moment road trip across the country is too overwhelming for you, compromise: make a loose plan and follow it through with room to explore and switch things up along the way. You might even find that you enjoy it—there certainly won’t be a dull moment with your free spirit!
Allow them their freedom.
To some degree, the level of freedom in your relationship will depend on you both. Dating a free spirit doesn’t mean you need to embrace polyamory or forgive infidelity. After all, it’s important to build a relationship based on trust. But, at the same time, expecting your partner to settle into a conventional domestic life can only backfire. As you get to know each other better, you’ll have a better understanding of how much space and leniency is right for you as a couple. Even as simple a step as talking about what you both want from your partnership can help. You don’t need to trap them with expectations and they don’t need you to let go entirely: meet in the middle to find the balance that works best for you both.
Bring plenty of romance.
Your free-spirited partner is sure to have a flair for all things romantic. When the opportunity arises, pull out all the stops to show them how special to you they are. Step up your game when it comes to dating—she’s tired of the same old pickup lines and subtle tricks others use to show their interest. Be original and find unique ways to show your love, whether that’s the perfect present, a date night that brings her dreams to life, or simply surprising her with something sweet. Your free spirit keeps you on your toes, right? Return the favor by making sure you never stop trying to surprise her.
Leave space for their dreams.
Your partner isn’t naive—they simply believe that whatever they can dream up can be brought into being. If that’s a spontaneous adventure hand-in-hand, so be it. If it’s launching a creative business venture, lend a hand. A free spirit is sure to have lofty dreams and negativity in the guise of being realistic won’t help bolster those aspirations—it will only drive you apart. Make time and space in your relationship to let your heads float in the clouds. Lie back and look at the sky, literally or metaphorically, and embrace their innate capacity to imagine anything.
Whether your relationship with a free spirit is one that will last a lifetime or your connection is more of a fling, you won’t soon forget the experience of dating them. When you aren’t trying to change each other’s way of being or make one another meet unrealistic expectations, you might even find yourself bringing out the best of them along the way—and vice versa. Even if the relationship ends, you’ll have your moon sign in the back of your mind or take pieces from your S.O.’s alternative treatment plan to enhance your own wellness in years to come.