We have all seen it happen to others and possibly ourselves: someone gets into a relationship and soon they are almost unrecognizable. They may act, dress, and even speak differently and even though the changes are not necessarily bad, it can seem like the essence of the person has disappeared. The person is not themselves because they have gotten lost in a relationship. We all lose parts of ourself when in a relationship, even those who are most independent and strong among us. Still, in some situations we do not just temporarily forget who we are but become someone else as we merge identities with our partner to force a perfect fit. This may be due to anxiety or a need to be agreeable, but may also be because a partner is being manipulative or pressuring us in unhealthy ways to become like them. It could be all of the above. If this sounds all too familiar or is happening to you right now, then there are a few small changes you can make to avoid losing yourself in a relationship and rediscover your true self.
Stop Replacing I With We
“We” is promoted publicly in many ways, through social media and in person. We see it as magazines combine couple names into things like Kimye and all things couple are pushed to the front. There is a pressure to merge into “we” when in a relationship and it seeps into our vocabulary often without even realizing it. Phrases like “I like this restaurant” becomes “we like this restaurant” may seem commonplace, but it shows that somewhere along the way personal thoughts are lost and replaced with “we” statements. While becoming we makes sense in some situations, it is also a catalyst into an unhealthy relationship area. Do a self-check on your language and stop using “we” when you really mean “I.” You are your own person and should be able to express independent thought apart from others, including your significant other.
Careful When Compromising Small Stuff
Often in a relationship we compromise. While some compromise is expected, if you are always the one making the compromise, then it is an unhealthy dynamic. For example, if you live with your partner, look around the kitchen or pantry and see if you recognize the food staples or is the furniture all theirs even though you wanted to add different pieces? Whether it is the type of music played in the car or who decides where or what you eat each night, there are bound to be differences in your preferences and that of your partner. If your partner always gets their way, then they are taking advantage and a bit of you disappears each time. Compromises are fine, but make sure both sides are compromising.
Socialize On Your Own
It is essential to introduce a significant other into your social circle and loved ones, but it is also important to maintain these relationships on their own. Having your significant other by your side does change the dynamic, so time spent with loved ones separately is healthy. These are the people that knew you pre-relationship and can help you stay true to yourself. Set aside time to meet with them regularly without your significant other. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean you should discard all others.
Your Own Hobbies
It is normal, especially in new relationships, to want to share all your time with your partner, but it is unhealthy to spend all your time together. Make time in the relationship for your own hobbies and passions that do not involve your partner. Fight the urge to give up on something you love for something you can do together because it is possible to do both. Healthy partners encourage you to follow your passions even if they do not involve them. Those who try to control everything you do can end up unhealthy quickly. Have a life outside your partner to build self-confidence and self-esteem. This prevents you from becoming overly reliant on your partner and becoming socially isolated. Stay connected to things outside the relationship at least a few times a month.
Getting to Know Yourself
Entering into a committed relationship is not the time to say “I’m complete.” The journey to self-discovery is never ending and it continues while in a relationship. Keep learning new things about yourself and who you want to be when with your partner. Make some me time when possible to reflect on your wellbeing and needs.
Relationships are not defined as the manner in which two people become one, but in the way they are connected. A healthy relationship will not mean losing what and who you are to be part of it. Each of the “I”s in relationship are essential and unique and if not there is no authenticity.