For me, one of the most challenging things about being in a romantic relationship is making sure I don’t lose myself along the journey of making two become one. It’s a fatal mistake I’ve made in almost every relationship. And I know that I am not alone in doing so. There is a narrative being pushed that romantic relationships/marriage takes precedence over other relationships in your life. So why wouldn’t a single woman fully immerse herself into her partner if her hope is to be married? Even if there isn’t a desire to be married the narrative remains. However, there is a difference between making your partner a priority and making them the number one priority.
I personally became so involved with a partner that when our honeymoon phase faded I was dozens of pounds heavier, I felt off-kilter and began to resent him. We spent so much time together that I neglected to go to the gym, church, and keep up with my daily habits and routines. Compromise and sacrifice are necessary for a healthy relationship. But if you start to question your behavior and realize that the plans and dreams you’ve made for yourself are no longer a priority, or you feel trapped, stifled and begin to feel resentful, then the chances are that you are losing yourself in the relationship.
Below are my three ways you can ensure you don’t lose yourself in your romantic relationships:
Stay connected with your friends – We all know that one girlfriend that becomes M.I.A. once she gets into a relationship, but once that relationship is over she is back in the fold. This is not healthy nor is it sustainable for creating meaningful friendships. It’s important to stay connected to your friends while in your relationship. Girlfriends are an integral part of our lives and support system. Your partner can’t be your all in all. It’s unrealistic to think they can meet all your needs. It’s better to live your life within a circle of committed relationships with loved ones who share in nurturing your spiritual growth than one single solitary relationship. This type of dependency will inevitably lead to loneliness if the relationship should end. So if you and your girls have a standing brunch date, or if you go on an annual vacation, then continue to do those things.
Keep doing what you were doing and leave space for trying new things – As I mentioned before, at the beginning of my relationship, I was neglecting my priorities and my interests in order to be with my partner. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to spend all my time with him but making those types of concessions weren’t sustainable to my overall health and feeling of fulfillment. Eventually, I began to feel askew and it was because I wasn’t keeping up with my priorities and the things I liked to do. I was absorbing my partner’s interests and hobbies and neglecting my own. But it’s important to keep honoring your personal commitments, obligations, goals, meeting your deadlines, and pursuing hobbies. By continuing to practice what you’ve always done, you make for a more fulfilled, complete, and overall satisfaction with your life. Also, allow time and opportunity to introduce new activities or goals in your life. If there is a hobby or class or something you’ve always wanted to do, then it’s important to pursue it without the guilt of doing it and fear of neglecting your partner. If you personally feel enriched, then your partner will reap the benefits.
Stay curious about your behavior in the relationship – I believe in constant self-reflection and self-awareness. And it’s important to survey behaviors and attitudes about yourself, your partner and your relationship. In doing these check-ups, you’re able to discern if your motives and behaviors in acquiescing to your partner’s needs and wants are genuine or motivated out of fear. This could be a fear of losing them or a fear of being single. “People-pleasing” behavior can be detrimental to your whole being. These are warning signs that the relationship you’re in may be a toxic one or one that is not in your best interest to continue to pursue.
Remember that in every relationship you should be your first priority. I’m not saying to be completely and totally selfish, but if you lose yourself being everything for everybody then you really aren’t doing anyone any favors. Keep it real and stay genuine when you are in your relationships. Let your partner know your boundaries, priorities, and commitments and adjust everything else as needed.