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How to Not Lose Yourself in A Relationship

It is human to get into a relationship and want to make it work with every fibre of your being. In fact, relationships require work. But making it work shouldn’t come at the cost of losing who you are as an individual. 

What do I mean by losing yourself?

The paradox of love is that “two beings become one and yet remain two” – Erich Fromm. Losing yourself in a relationship can come in different forms. It could be that you are solely or mostly defined by your relationship. Your dreams, goals, and aspirations now come last or have completely ceased existing to you and you don’t quite remember your likes/dislikes and/or opinions. You are overly consumed by the relationship and are/have become a shadow of who you used to be.

It can also feel like you’re carrying the relationship by yourself because of the devotion you have given the relationship and while it comes across like your partner is not giving as much as you are. There is unhappiness on your part, but you are unable to express the unhappiness.

This can be a result of being in a toxic relationship or being in a relationship where one partner dominates the other as stated by Wendy Miller of the Love & the Single Parent blog. Remember, although you’re in a relationship, you’re still you, an individual. And most importantly, before you’re someone else’s partner, you are your partner first.

Why is it important to maintain individualism?

Good, healthy relationships thrive off balance. Psychotherapist and Re-partnering Coach, Deborah Hecker, states on HuffPost that “maintaining individuality is critical to establishing a long-lasting, healthy partnership. Therefore, equal efforts between attending to oneself and making the relationship work are necessary”. Maintaining individualism helps you to not be defined by your relationship only and it keeps your sense of self alive.

So, what to do to not lose yourself?

At the core of not losing yourself in a relationship is having a strong sense of self and identity. You need to know yourself, be confident in who you are, and constantly be aware of the individual you are. Knowing yourself and your worth go a long way, especially in helping you to not settle for or tolerate the bare minimum in relationships due to the fear of being alone. This might all sound like a mouthful, but it really isn’t.

  1. Have regular alone time and activities – Alone time is necessary. It helps you stay in tune with yourself and allows you to reflect on your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Don’t neglect thinking about them. Alone time also helps you stay true to yourself. When you keep up with the activities that you love, they keep you happy and also remind you of who you are. After all, you are in charge of your happiness and your partner can only ever add to what’s already in your cup.
  2. Practice self-care – self-care looks different for everyone. It might be treating yourself every other week, taking a walk, meditating and so on. Not only is it a way to show appreciation to yourself, but according to a Southern New Hampshire University article by Matthew Glowiak of the Clinical Faculty, it helps reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, increase happiness and improve energy amongst many other benefits.
  3. Set boundaries – Hecker defines personal boundaries as “the limits we set for ourselves as individuals in relationships. They protect our sense of personal identity and help guard against being overwhelmed by the demands of others.” It’s good and normal to have boundaries, even in romantic relationships. Healthy boundaries are empowering and aid in giving you confidence.
  4. Keep your own friends – although it’s okay and definitely fun to have mutual friends with your partner, it is also important to have friends of your own for the sake of your independence. You’ll get to have your own thing with your own friends, which can provide you with a breath of fresh air. Your life shouldn’t revolve around your partner or relationship.

Being in a relationship is amazing. It offers that companionship that most of us yearn for. You have someone to do things with, someone who gets you and your weird sense of humour. Some even go as far as saying they have someone who completes them. Regardless of how amazing it all sounds, you are an individual before anything else and it’s important to not let your relationship be the only thing that defines you or gives you purpose at the end of the day.

BSocSci graduate. Majored in Social Development and Politics & Governance| Liker of wholesome content| Optimistic| Finding comfort in failing and getting back up again because it's not over until it's over| Aspiring to be a versatile writer.
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