You Are More Than Your S.O.’s Shadow

During a relationship advice is often given to not become who you are dating. However, it is hardly advised against to be wary of completely being overstepped by your S.O. and being lost in their shadow. By this I mean only understanding who you are based on who they are. After a recent break up I became aware of how people perceived me as a part of my S.O rather than an individual that has her own Identity. 

Recently on campus, students as well as staff have addressed me as so and so’s girlfriend. At the local café and within social settings people only associate me as being a part of someone else, even after the break up. Belittling comments have included: “Oh, I didn’t recognize you without him standing next to you,” “remember her? This is [insert name]'s Ex,” “Aren’t you the girl who dated [insert name]?” “Could we see a picture of him?”  During all of these troubling conversations no one had asked me for my name or my involvement on campus. I was just the girl who dated him. 

As a woman, I believe this is a reinforcement that in society we still think women belong to men or are a part of them. To these people my identity is only relevant in relation to my past S.O. I am only recognized and remembered by being by his side. I am at fault here too, I began to give into this during the relationship and only understood myself in contrast to him. He is outgoing, therefore I must be shy. But no, I am not shy and I will no longer be silenced by the crushing fist of being “completed” by a relationship. 

I encourage the resistance of being part of a whole within a relationship and finding your identity before trying to love someone. I am not attempting to say this is how all heterosexual relationships are, however, it is more prone to happen where traditional gender roles have room to manifest. Rather, this is just a reminder that you are your own person and you don’t need a relationship to understand your identity and if you have an experience like mine, I hope you have the courage to say something about it.