Losing yourself in a relationship is all too common.
For many, it’s the model you grew up witnessing as a child; so it feels natural. Maybe it was one parent’s needs consistently put before the other’s. Or a voiceless participant in the romantic partnership doing everything possible to please the other at the expense of their own dreams and happiness.
We’re all guilty of losing parts of our self in a relationship from time to time. Although, it’s initially most noticeable from the outside looking in on the situation.
“We can all recall a smart, vibrant, independent friend who became unrecognizable in their romantic partnership,” explains Kelleher International CEO, Amber Kelleher-Andrews. “And we curiously wonder how on earth that happened.”
Losing yourself in a relationship can vary from forgetting the things you love to do, to actually becoming a totally different person out of a desire for acceptance.
A common reason is the fear of losing the connection. The anxiety causes you to go out of your way to be agreeable. Or, on the flipside, your partner might pressure or manipulate you to be more like them or what they desire out of a partner. Many times, it’s an unhealthy mix of both.
The reality is that no matter how much you shapeshift to fit into a relationship, your true self will cry out to you to be seen.
You might pretend to be happy wearing the mask, but both you and your partner will eventually become unhappy with the charade.
“Losing yourself in the relationship can cause severe damage to the mutual respect that’s critical in a romantic partnership,” Amber warns. “When you find yourself in that place, it’s important to course correct immediately if you want to salvage the connection long-term.”
We don’t consciously seek out love connections modeled to us as children, yet it happens. It typically takes years of repeating unhealthy relationship patterns for the big picture to reveal itself. In that realization comes the opportunity for personal growth and a paradigm shift in how you approach romantic love and connection.
If you currently feel lost in love, know that you can find your way back to self with a few simple shifts.
Relationship with self comes first. If you aren’t actively loving yourself, it’s difficult for others to love you unconditionally. A romantic connection will never be more important than your relationship with self. In fact, your personal relationship is the foundation from which you build all of the other relationships in your life.
The person you’ll attract when you aren’t happy with yourself is not going to be right for you long-term.
Rather than fitting yourself into someone else’s mold, find satisfaction being you, and see how that changes the dynamics of your relationship. If your partner doesn’t appreciate happy, authentic you – then they aren’t your match.
Don’t only be a “we” person.
Celebrate your authenticity and independence! Avoid being the person that waits around on your love interest to make plans with you. Never stop seeking and doing the things that bring you joy. Enjoying the experiences of life on your own not only feels empowering, but it’s also a desirable quality in a partner.
Enjoy your relationship with self and respect that same relationship in your partner.
Make sure you’re in a relationship where the compromises go both ways – from the music you listen to in the car to the food stocked in the pantry to the weekend activities you participate in. Make sure you recognize both of you in all parts of your relationship.
When it comes to socializing, certainly maintain and nurture your personal relationships.
If you sense you’re losing yourself in a romantic partnership, make time to be with the people who celebrate and nurture your authenticity. These are the people who will lovingly remind you who you are so you can step into your power and understanding.
Don’t give up something you love for the sake of finding an activity both you and your partner enjoy. A healthy partnership encourages individuality as much as togetherness.
When you allow yourself to enjoy a life outside of your partner, your confidence and self-esteem reap the rewards. And, you become a more dynamic and attractive partner capable of having a healthy, loving relationship.
And, there should never be a reason to over-analyze how your age or life-situation presents to your partner; that’s the same fear talking that caused you to lose yourself in the first place.
If you’re in a partnership that doesn’t accept you and the package you bring to the relationship, then you’re not in the right one.
We recognize these are simple ideas to understand but aren’t necessarily easy to achieve. Especially when you’re habitually losing yourself in relationships.
Consider the following exercise to evaluate the balance in your love life.
Kelleher’s director of matchmaking, Kimberly Colgate, suggests, “Write down all of the things that your partner adds to your life. Be sure to include how these things make you feel (i.e. desired, loved, heard, understood). Then make a list of what you contribute to theirs. When comparing the lists, they should be relatively equal. Ask yourself what value you are getting out of the relationship and be honest with yourself if it is enough. We often settle in relationships out of fear of being alone. But it is important to continue to evaluate the connection and hold each other accountable.”
Frankly, self-discovery is a lifelong lesson.
To be a healthy, dynamic partner, we should never stop learning about ourselves and evolving with each actualization. So don’t let fear keep you from rehabbing your romance or recognizing that it’s time to cut the cord.
Kimberly adds, “Just because you are a couple doesn’t mean you always have to agree, do everything together, or have identical interests. Diversity is a good thing. Clients often come to us looking for a partner that is a mirror image of themselves. And it is important to have common ground on core values and long-term goals. But we see the excitement first-hand when clients find themselves drawn to someone with their own interests, careers, social circles, and independence. When they join together, it becomes double the fun.”
If you’re ready for a fresh, new love that embraces your authenticity, consider collaborating with a matchmaking firm like Kelleher International. Learn more about our process to know if it’s right for you.