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Being in a relationship is such a wonderful experience. Falling in love is very exciting, and it’s easy to become completely consumed by the person you are falling for, but that’s exactly why it’s important to know how to not lose yourself in a relationship!
Why should you maintain some independence and not lose yourself in a relationship? Well, even if this new relationship is going to be a long term (maybe even forever!) partnership, it’s simply not healthy to lose yourself in a relationship. You want to stay true to yourself and maintain a healthy balance with all facets of your life, including your romantic relationship. Even if you’re already feeling like you’re losing yourself a bit in your relationship, it’s never too late to come back to yourself.
Whether you’re just embarking on a new and exciting relationship or you’re in a committed, long term relationship of several years, these tips for how to not lose yourself in a relationship can be useful for helping you maintain a happy, healthy relationship with your partner and yourself.
How to Not Lose Yourself in a Relationship
Don’t Forget About Your Friends
When we start falling for someone, it’s only natural that we want to spend all our time with them, and it’s all too common that in the excitement of a new relationship, prior friendships might not be getting as much attention as they once had.
Not only is this sad for the friends that we love so much, but when push comes to shove and you need support from someone other than your partner, will your friends still be there? Perhaps not if you’ve neglected these relationships to pour everything you’ve got into your romantic relationship.
People need a variety of different relationships in their lives, including friendships. Don’t take them for granted just because you have a new romantic bestie!
Keep Up with Hobbies
One thing that can happen that makes you lose yourself in a relationship is the forgoing of hobbies and personal interests that your partner doesn’t share with you. While it can be extremely fun to find new shared hobbies and interests that you enjoy doing together, it’s not healthy to dismiss interests that fulfill you simply because it’s not a shared interest. In fact, having your own hobbies is healthy!
Interestingly, partners that support each other in pursuing their own personal hobbies and interests is considered a huge green flag in a relationship, so don’t be afraid to continue finding fulfillment in the hobbies and interests that you don’t share!
Engage in Self Care
Self care is incredibly important, especially when it comes to not losing yourself in relationships. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to show up for our partners in a more mindful way. Self care in relationships includes meeting your own needs regarding your sleep, your nutrition, your time, etc, and by ensuring you are taking care of yourself, you ensure you can show up for your partner as your best self! Don’t we all want that?
Have Healthy Boundaries
There has so much discussion in the relationship world in the last few years about healthy boundaries, and this is a wonderful thing because when a couple has healthy boundaries, they both ensure they meet each other as their healthiest, strongest selves. A boundary isn’t a wall, it is a guide to ensure that you both have your needs met in the relationship.
For example, a boundary around communication in a relationship might involve how often your significant other can text you while you are at work. You should be honest about how often you are comfortable receiving texts during your working hours, because if you do not set an honest boundary, you will likely feel agitated and resentful towards your partner that continues to text you while you are at work, and attempting to talk yourself out of your feelings is no way to stay healthy and strong for you or your partner.
Have Your Own Goals
This one is so important in maintaining your own identity in a relationship! Committed couples do and should have shared life goals, but they shouldn’t do this at the expense of their own personal goals, and guess what? Having personal goals is healthy!
Personal goals might be health goals, career goals, educational goals, creative goals, etc, but having things you are working on for your own personal fulfillment is healthy both for yourself personally and for the betterment of your relationship. Everyone should be trying to show up for their partner as their best self, right? Having personal goals we pursue is a big part of this.
This one might seem a little silly at first glance, but it’s crucial to not losing yourself in relationships! Particularly if you are a serial monogamist (someone who finds themself in back to back serious relationships), it might be the case that you’re not completely sure who you are by yourself anymore.
You don’t have to run from the relationship you’re in, but you do have to strengthen your longest relationship you can have in life: the relationship you have with yourself. What are your most treasured ideals? What are the things that you love about yourself? What do you want to work on about yourself? When you can see who you are clearly, you can be sure you’re not pouring yourself into a mold that someone else has made for you.
Know Your Partner
In exciting romantic relationships, we often have a tendency to idolize our partners and create a fantasy version of both themselves and the relationship that might not be the complete picture. The healthiest relationships are those in which both people really see the other for who they are inside, beyond the fantasy.
If you can see your partner for who they are – warts and all – you will feel more comfortable letting them see the real you without trying to contort yourself to fit their fantasy picture of you. Healthy relationships are honest relationships.
Maintain Financial Independence
This one is important for all, but especially for women in heterosexual relationships where there has traditionally been a power imbalance regarding money and freedom in committed relationships. It’s lovely to be with a partner who assures you that they will take care of you financially/physically/emotionally no matter what, but giving up all your own agency is a recipe for disaster.
If your partner wants to pay for date nights, that’s lovely. What’s not lovely is when a partner pressures you to do something to reciprocate for the date nights they paid for. If your fiance tells you that you can quit your job you hate because they make enough to support you both, that’s lovely. What’s not lovely is if your fiance insists you quit a job you love because they’d rather you be at home.
These can be considered forms of financial abuse and they can be confusing to navigate. If you’re unsure of the difference, a trusted friend or a therapist might be able to help you sort it out.
As you’ve likely noticed by now, many of these ways to keep from losing yourself in a relationship are very similar and have some overlap with each other, but at the true heart of it all is staying true to yourself and who you are independent of your partner.
Maintaining independence and continuing to work on yourself ensures that you not only won’t lose yourself in your relationship, but you will show up in your relationship as your strongest and healthiest self. Don’t we all want to offer our partners our best?
You might also like:
- You’re Always Going to Suck at Relationships
- 5 Tips for Better Communication in Relationships
- 7 Things People in Happy Relationships Don’t Do
- 15 Pieces of Bad Relationship Advice You Should Definitely Ignore
- How to Manage Expectations in Marriage & Committed Relationships
- Affair-Proof: 7 Ways to Protect Your Marriage from Infidelity
- The First Year of Marriage: A Survival Guide
- 8 Tips for Listening in Relationships: How to Be a Better Listener
- Right Person, Wrong Time: Signs You’re in a Right Person Wrong Time Situation
Amy Hartle is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships, a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.