DON'T BE AFRAID OF LOSING PEOPLE, BE AFRAID OF LOSING YOURSELF.
We're so good at prioritising ourselves when we’re single. Well... I hope we are anyway! We put our own needs first, our heart, our passions, all of that stuff... then along comes a lover to "steal" the spotlight. Okay, "steal" is slightly dramatic but in reality it’s the attention we give out freely. We get so wrapped up in our feelings that we're more than happy to give them our all. Suddenly, our wants, needs and interests get sidelined while the other person takes center stage. At least for a while...
We’ve all seen it happen. Hell, we may have blindly gone through it ourselves. Someone gets into a relationship and soon, they’re barely recognisable. Who are they? Lord help us... they're out here dressing differently, acting differently, maybe even speaking differently! And for what? Perhaps the changes aren't so bad per se, but the essence of the person has certainly disappeared! It's fine if you're guilty of losing a part of yourself somewhere along the relationship, it can happen to anyone, no matter how strong or independent you are... feelings and emotions are a powerful thing, and can override our logic. I've been there many times in the past! It's shit... but one of the best feelings is when you're dragged back to reality, finally fix up and remember who the f*** you are! In some instances, we don’t just forget who we are, we become a whole new person, merging identities with our partner to force the perfect fit. Sometimes it happens because we’re eager to please and go out of our way to be more "likeable". Then unfortunately in other cases, a partner will pile on the pressure and use manipulative tactics to get what they want... thus you become their puppet. Oftentimes it could be a combination of both.
TIME TO FACE THE TRUTH
We typically don’t notice it when we lose ourselves, it’s much easier to spot the signs when you're looking at things objectively. But if you’re confused about whether you’ve lost yourself or are starting to lose yourself in the relationship, here are 10 behaviours that you might be able to identify with. I hope these signs will prevent you from draining out any further...
1. YOUR HOBBIES, PASSIONS AND GOALS HAVE TAKEN A BACK SEAT As individuals we have our own passions, hobbies and goals. We strive to learn, evolve and chase our dreams. But if you’ve lost touch with what you want out of life, that’s a big red flag. Unfortunately you’ve buried your dreams and have taken the back seat in your relationship.
2. YOU START LOSING YOUR SOCIAL LIFE Do you prioritise spending time with your partner over meeting your friends? Do you cancel whenever there's a social event happening? This shows that you’re becoming increasingly reliant on your partner as your only source of emotional and social support, and that's not healthy. If you start distancing yourself from friends or family, you'll create an environment that involves just you and your partner. Your partner will not be able to meet all your needs, sooner or later, you'll begin to feel lonely, frustrated and miserable.
3. NEVER SPENDING TIME ALONE I cannot emphasise this enough... having quality time with yourself is so vital. By this I mean to really enjoy your own company, whether it's reading a book, taking a stroll outdoors, grabbing a coffee, writing, drawing — you need to put time aside to focus on you. If you're with your partner almost every second of the day, then you're most certainly losing yourself. A healthy relationship means you get to enjoy some time alone while staying happy with your partner.
4. YOU NEED YOUR PARTNER’S APPROVAL It’s fine to get advice from your partner, but at the end of the day, any decision is still your decision. If you're having to get permission from your partner to hang out with friends, being influenced on how to act or dress, allowing your career to be driven entirely by them, then this is another glaring sign. If you’ve experienced any these things (and this is just a small number of examples) then something needs to change. Your other half is there to support you, not lead your life.
5. YOU PASS UP OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR PARTNER If you're declining amazing job offers, a chance to work abroad, missing out on events that fuel your passions — all for the sake of keeping your partner happy and sustaining your relationship, then you may want to think twice. Understandably cases like these can be really hard, but it's worth asking yourself: "If I were single, would I accept this offer?" If your answer is yes, that's another signal.
6. YOU MISS YOUR SINGLE LIFE Sometimes when you miss being single, it’s usually because you’ve given up everything for the person that you’re with. If you constantly think about times when you were "free", it might mean that you’re unhappy with your current situation. Being in a relationship should mean that you’re excited about what’s to come, rather than dwelling on the past. If you're missing the single life, have a think about "why?".
7. YOUR SELF-CARE SLIPS When you think about self-care, it essentially means looking after yourself the way you would look after someone you love: physically and emotionally. If you’ve been trying to eat healthy, but somehow you ended up ordering the same fast food again, if your yoga classes are slowly turning into hours of Netflix binging or if you're usually someone who's primped and polished but all you want to do is lounge around in your PJs... you need to consider what's making you go off tangent. Likewise, taking care of your thoughts, emotions and headspace is equally important. If you're not putting this into practice, then you'll need to find yourself to feel balanced again.
8. SUPPRESSING YOUR VOICE Do you keep quiet about what you want and desire? Do you think it’s better to bury your head in the sand in favour of your partner and the relationship? If you don't voice your thoughts, you’ll lose your individuality and become a shell of a person. This will only lead to misery, regret and resentment which are major relationship killers.
9. YOU FEEL OUT OF CONTROL If you feel like you're walking on eggshells, this is not a positive sign. When a relationship is making you feel anxious, it's the body’s way of responding to stress. Other symptoms include having obsessive or endless thoughts, avoidance, restless nights, overeating/undereating, extreme exhaustion and bad mood swings. As you can guess, these habits and behaviours are very damaging for the short and long term.
10. YOU’RE UNHAPPY BUT AFRAID LEAVE Last but certainly not least, if you feel sadness day in day out but are too afraid to let the relationship go. One of the key reasons people remain trapped in a relationship is their inability to see a better future. Due to our own expectations and the expectations our partners asserted over time, we might believe that if we leave it'll mean: starting again, feeling lonely, having no support, feeling pain, guilt and a number of other things. Even if you can't bring yourself to leave today, tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year, you must try and imagine the possibility of relief and contentment in your post-breakup life.
One thing I've learnt after going through this rough journey in the past is that healthy relationships start from a healthy you. Strengthening the relationship with yourself will lessen the chance of losing your sense of self in future. Start by getting to know who you are, exploring life on your own, and establishing habits which make you happy. Once you've built that inner confidence, you'll stay grounded when entering the dating market again, equipped with better judgment. You'll also keep a strong identity, make better romantic choices, ultimately preventing you from heartache.