I am madly in love with this wonderful woman and am happy to the point that I can't imagine anything better in life. I want desperately to hold onto the relationship as best I can. While this is my goal, though, this woman is a real independent - she's someone who requires a lot of "space," as she is always telling me, and sometimes I feel that she's pushing me away although she seems really happy, too, and says that she's in love with me. Am I trying too hard? How does one hold on to "true love" in this time when it seems like everyone around us is breaking up because of irreconcilable differences/needs?
Hoping It's Possible, Lower East Side
Consider yourself lucky that you are experiencing love to this extent. There is nothing more fulfilling than a respectful, satisfying, loving relationship, and you are completely right to want this to extend as far into the future as possible. The best prescription for helping you to do so is for both of you to continue communicating openly and honestly with one another. When people break up out of "differences," it often signifies that they have not been verbalizing their different needs to one another and are operating out of the assumption that they won't be understood. Naturally, the less one says, the less he or she can hope to be understood. If you want to retain the relationship, you must respect her need for space, but that doesn't mean that you can't engage her on the topic in an effort to understand exactly what "space" means to her and how/why she requires this, especially in a romantic relationship.
We live in a city brimming with independents. That's part of NYC's charm. There is nothing wrong with someone wanting their own time, activities, , etc; but you want to be sure that she's not pushing you out of her life. Only she can confirm that, and hopefully she trusts you enough to share with you her perceptions of her reasons for needing independence to this degree. There's a fundamental rule that often operates in relationships: the less tightly you try and hold onto someone, the better your chance of retaining them. Situation-specific, certainly, but beware of the tendency of those who want to hold onto someone so tightly that they actually sabotage the relationship by driving the person away, overwhelming them, or seeming desperate or clingy. But it all comes back to communication: if you vocalize your feelings, including your desire to prevent such a sabotage of things as they stand, you stand the best chance of keeping what you have and cherish. There's also nothing wrong with consulting and family, and other trusted sources on love and dating in order to get some outside opinions on the topic. You can learn from others' experiences and thereby enhance your own. Good luck. And enjoy. We need more love in the air.