Sometimes we love so much that we lose ourselves. Loving is sweet and fun, and satisfying. You will not be a good partner if you are incapable of loving. All the same, sometimes we love a bit too much and end up losing ourselves. We forget that we are unique, individual beings, with our own personality and uniqueness, and we become an attachment to the other person. This is not healthy, and when you find that you are codependent to the other person, you need to evaluate your position in that relationship.
Why do we lose ourselves in relationships?
Co-dependency happens when we have unhealthy emotional reliance on the other person. Co-dependency results from a dysfunctional relationship. Partners in a codependent relationship focus on each other and neglect their own feeling. As a result, one person cannot simply ‘live’ without the other.
This happens when you have an unhealthy attachment to your partner especially because you get security or validation from them. For us to unhealthily attach to another person, usually we have a sense of low self-worth, insecurity and worrying about rejection. When you attach yourself to someone who validates you, you tend to lose a sense of who you are and let them define you.
Unhealthy need to belong
If you don’t have a strong support system, you may experience the need to belong somewhere. So when someone comes along and gives you love and belonging, you drop everything and let yourself be defined by this relationship. The need to belong is a natural need for humans. However, at some point, it can get unhealthy. This is why you find someone who would rather be in an abusive relationship than not be in one at all.
As you can see, we lose ourselves in love when we let the other person take charge of our lives, sometimes unknowingly.
You know what? We can manage to love and still maintain our individuality.
Here is how you can love without losing yourself
Know your self-worth
When our self-worth is low, we usually expect the other person to validate us. We can do things just as it pleases them so that they can validate us through gratitude. Low self-worth is what drives many people in relationships to do things that later on when they look back, they were surprised that they may have gone a little too far. Knowing your self-worth helps you know your value in that relationship. This way, you don’t feel as if you need to prove yourself in the relationship. Instead, you develop a healthy relationship whereby you not only give, but you also receive as well.
Look out for red flags, and believe them
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time- Maya Angelou
Early in relationships, we ignore red flags since, at this stage, we are infatuated with love. Worse still, we think that the other person will change. We also think the red flags are merely mistakes and they won’t recur in the relationship. The reason we need to look out for red flags is that the people who show certain traits, such as manipulation and possessiveness, are the same kind of people who make us lose ourselves in relationships. This kind of people will manipulate you to do just what they want, and act very hurt when you make efforts to be an independent individual. If you see such signs early in the relationship, maybe you shouldn’t unpack yet.
Don’t lose your old friendships
As women, sometimes we are notorious at this. Once we are in a relationship, and we are content in it, we lose the need to connect with our other friends. We focus all our time and energy on our relationship. Should such a relationship go south, we find that we have no one to talk to because we burned all the bridges. You call up your girlfriend and the first thing they ask is why you are looking for them while they looked for you and you were nowhere to be found. If you have broken all your ties because of your relationship, take a good look and see if you have lost yourself in the relationship.
Have separate hobbies and activities
To maintain your identity in a relationship, have a hobby that is just for you. While it feels great to participate in activities together with our partners, sometimes you do need time alone. Do the things that make you happy and not the one that makes your partner happy once in a while. I keep my love for hunting for books and reading them, hiking and meeting up old friends once in a while as my me-hobbies. I do these alone, or with other people that are not my partner. I enjoy that they are my thing.
Learn to speak your mind
We are told that compromise is good in relationships. That is true. But for compromise to take place, usually there are two differing opinions. When you are in a relationship, a functional relationship whereby each person is a contributing partner, then just like your partner, you should have something to say as well. Learn to speak your mind if you find it necessary. Don’t be swayed and move with the tide of your partner and before you know it, you have no mind of your own. If your partner respects you, they will listen to what you have to say and take it into consideration. This is where compromise comes in and once you have weighed the two opinions, you can agree having listened to both parties.