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No, It’s Not Always a Bad Thing to “Lose Yourself” in a Relationship

Significant others: our other halves and the missing pieces—or so they tell us. They tell us that we are simply incomplete people living incomplete lives without that “special someone,” that a relationship is the easiest route to self-fulfillment. But what if all the voices that told us this have it completely wrong? What if relationships are actually the very things that make us less complete, less fulfilled, less of ourselves?

Much like the cliché of our missing puzzle pieces, yet another cliché that circles around dating advice books everywhere is compromise, compromise, compromise. You must compromise on where you want to go dinner. You must compromise on who sleeps on what side of the bed. And more often than not, you must compromise on the lifestyle you will live when in love. For that very reason, people move, people convert, people live lives they never imagined, all for their significant other. And no one seems to correct such behavior—instead we encourage it. We tell people with firm beliefs and strong identities, that they have to make sacrifices or they will be doomed to a life of perpetual singlehood. But is this really fair? Should we demand that people give up part of themselves simply for the sake of maintaining a relationship?

In my personal dating experience, every one of my relationships has come with this inevitable shedding of identity. While I am not suggesting that I have sacrificed the entirety of my being for a relationship, every time I have fallen in love, I seemed to have dropped a personality quirk, a political opinion, or an interest on the way down. Though many people would lecture the feminist in me for giving up part of myself for a man, I believe this happens to more people than anyone would ever like to admit—many would argue that this shedding of identity is absolutely crucial for the success of a relationship. After all, could a relationship really thrive if two people never compromised, never let go of bad habits, and never took on new interests? While many see this loss of identity as a punishable offense, is it really so bad? Might there be benefits to letting your significant other change your perspectives, change your political opinions, and change your identity? In the end, isn’t that what a relationship is all about, letting a love turn your world upside down, and making you feel as if you’re a completely new person—relationships are a renaissance of sorts.

While I can say with absolute certainty that my relationship has changed me, I don’t think it’s for the worse any longer. Instead of viewing these changes as losses of self, instead, I will accept these changes as natural part of the process. And to these people that say that giving up parts of yourself in a relationship is wrong, you may need to reconsider your definition of self. My personality, my opinions, and my beliefs are not static, and they never have been. They change after tragedies, greater knowledge, and new experiences, and maybe, just maybe, boyfriends and relationships are just two more things that can lend to a new self. After all, with people constantly changing and constantly adapting, is there such thing as losing yourself? Or is it simply gaining a new self?

So in the end, who’s got it right? The ones who encourage compromise? Or the ones who stand strong in their beliefs and their passions, even despite falling in love? Or maybe the real question is, is there even a right or wrong when it comes to our identities and relationships? Might the people who refuse to compromise their interests for a partner, and those who allow love to seep into their lives and change their perspectives, be able to coexist in harmony? Or is there an objective wrong and right when it comes to our sense of self and the dating world? 

Editor-in-chief of Her Campus Utah - Double major in English and Gender Studies - Lover of Oxford comma, hater of patriarchy. 
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