You know the feeling – the one that leaves you weak in the knees when you meet someone new, and sparks fly.
You want to be around each other constantly, and you desperately want to please each other.
The beginning stages of relationships are exciting and consume much of your time and energy.
This is normal to an extent, but what happens when you become overly involved or attached and leave your friends, family, and independence in the dust?
What Does Losing Yourself in a Relationship Mean?
While changes to your routine in a new relationship are normal to an extent, problems occur when you experience a loss of individuality as a result. You tend to get sucked into the “we” or the “he/she” and lose too much of the “you.”
It happens gradually, in small ways, and it stems from the rush of hormones you experience with your exciting, new connection.
Your focus is more on the chemistry and physical attraction between your partner and you, making you less likely to notice any potential relationship red flags. It feels good to feel good, and you want more of those happy feelings.
Is It Normal to Lose Yourself in a Relationship?
Some changes are natural in relationships. You have someone new with whom to dine, make plans, and share experiences.
It’s normal to want to spend time with your partner – after all, that’s how you get to know each other and determine if you want to grow your relationship.
However, it’s not normal to abandon everything you are and everyone you know to be closer to your partner.
21 Signs You’re Losing Yourself in a Relationship
It may be obvious when happening to a friend, but losing yourself in a relationship can be hard to spot when it happens to you.
You may be just beginning to lose your identity, or it could be long gone. Read on to learn about red flags that point to a loss of self in your relationship.
1. You don’t prioritize any “me” time.
Alone time is a crucial part of maintaining your identity.
If you find yourself avoiding solo activities you used to enjoy, you might want to take a step back and examine why that is.
Canceling your regular massage, skipping your daily gym workouts, or restructuring your ever-important morning routine in favor of spending time with your boyfriend or girlfriend are potential relationship red flags.
2. You’ve abandoned your social life.
Your previously overflowing social calendar overflows no more. You see your friends and family a lot less, or maybe not at all anymore.
You don’t talk to them or have time for them, and it takes you days to return texts and phone calls–if you return them at all.
If you no longer talk to the once-important people in your life, you might be losing yourself.
3. Your partner is your sole focus.
Everything you do is for him or “us.” You gravitate toward the clothes he likes to see you in, the foods and drinks he enjoys, and the activities he prefers.
You feel entirely responsible for their happiness and feelings, and you adopt them as your own. Beyond general concern for your partner’s life and well-being, you are obsessed with meeting every need and solving every problem.
4. You can’t think or talk about anything or anyone else.
It’s normal to think about your partner a lot, especially in the beginning stages of your relationship. But difficulty focusing on or thinking about other things or spending too much time figuring out their wants and needs is unhealthy.
Genuine friends are happy for you when you start a new relationship but notice if you talk about your partner and your relationship so much that others find it annoying.
5. You’ve replaced “I/me/mine” with “we/us/ours.”
It’s natural to experience a change in pronoun usage when you’re in a relationship, but automatically including your partner in everything you say and do is not.
You assume invitations include them, and you always include your partner when expressing your likes – WE love wine tasting, WE love reading, WE want to see that band next summer.
This pattern results in a loss of individuality.
6. Your opinions are no longer your own.
Legitimately changing your mind about something after your partner presents a strong argument or proof to support another point of view is different from changing your opinions to keep the peace or because you feel uncomfortable disagreeing.
Always seeing things from your partner’s perspective without regard for your own values and beliefs is a huge indicator of being lost in your relationship.
7. You no longer pursue your dreams and goals.
Your focus is on your partner’s dreams, goals, and desires. Your needs and wants have been pushed aside, and you’ve lost your determination and dedication to learn and grow.
Unsure of or uncomfortable with what you want or how you feel, you put more effort into trying to help your partner than trying to figure out what’s best for you.
8. You question your feelings.
You’re unsure of your feelings and confused by your desires. You feel uncertain about what you want, when you want it, how to go about getting it, and if it’s even worth pursuing.
Your needs, wants, and desires have become so intertwined with your partner’s that it’s nearly impossible to tell where they end and where you begin.
9. You are codependent with your partner.
You’re not yourself, and the people closest to you notice it. You can’t do things without your partner, and all of your decisions revolve around them.
You always ask for your partner’s opinion or permission before making decisions. It goes beyond just taking advice or accepting support–you wait for their approval.
Everything you do centers around what you think your partner’s opinion would be.
10. You minimize or downplay your differences.
You hesitate to express your opinion when it disagrees with your partner’s. You feign interest in things they like and force yourself to participate–not to understand and support them, but in an attempt to impress.
Your need for connections leads you to take the blame for everything that goes wrong, excusing and even supporting behaviors that previously went against your morals and standards.
11. You miss being single.
You long for the days when you weren’t romantically attached – back when you did whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, with whoever you wanted, without having to update your partner.
You reminisce about the fun things you used to do, the friends you used to spend time with, the activities that used to occupy your time, and how easy it used to be to decide what was for dinner.
12. You’re the only one who compromises.
What to watch, where to eat, and who to hang out with next weekend are all up to your partner.
There’s a lack of give-and-take between you, and you are quick to compromise when your opinions differ. You are always the one to give in and settle for something else, something they prefer, even when you flat out don’t like it.
It’s okay to give in sometimes, but more give than take leads to serious problems.
13. You pass on opportunities.
However big or small, life-changing or minute, you often pass on opportunities you would say yes to if you weren’t in a relationship – road trips with friends, the chance to meet a mentor, a big job offer, or a scholarship.
Things that take you away from your partner or create long distances between you – even little things like dinner with friends or spending the day at a public pool on a hot summer day – are cast aside without another thought.
14. Your relationship lacks boundaries.
If you and your partner don’t communicate what is and is not okay in your relationship, you are at risk of being taken advantage of and having your privacy invaded. Unclear or nonexistent boundaries can lead to a general disrespect toward you. They can cause you to go along with things outside your comfort zone–things for which you later make excuses.
15. You always say yes.
Maybe you’re a people pleaser by nature. You can’t say no and tend to put your partner’s needs and preferences before your own. You give in to avoid fights. You abandon your values for fear of a breakup.
You may give up hobbies, interests, and other relationships willingly at first, while later, it may be because your partner makes you.
16. Your self-image is lacking.
When losing your identity in a relationship, your opinion of yourself goes downhill.
It can result in self-doubt and a loss of confidence. You feel bad about yourself, and perhaps you don’t take time to maintain your appearance. You feel inadequate and unsatisfied with your ability to please your partner. You feel like you aren’t enough and will never be enough.
Your self-image depends on the way they see you.
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17. Your emotions are all over the place.
Constant catering to your partner’s wants and needs is exhausting.
This inability to relax can lead to symptoms of anxiety or depression. You may experience moodiness and feel like your opinions don’t matter or that everything is your fault.
You doubt your values and abilities, and you feel like you can never please them no matter how hard you try.
18. You’ve become a control freak.
Feeling lost in a relationship can lead to perfectionism and the need for everything to go exactly your way.
You try to control every aspect of and person in your life to compensate for not living up to your potential or not knowing who you are. You lack genuine joy and happiness and settle for a neutral numbness that lives inside you.
19. You’re on auto-pilot.
You feel like life is one big, long routine, and you’re simply going through the motions.
You do the same things day in and day out. You lack drive, and everything feels like a chore–waking up, going to work, making dinner, doing the dishes, working out, walking the dog.
The coveted excitement and appreciation that relationships usually bring don’t exist anymore.
20. You find ways to fill a void.
You know something is missing, and you seek other (often unhealthy) ways to feel fulfilled.
You feel trapped and unhappy. So, you employ coping mechanisms like eating your feelings, abusing drugs, binge-watching Hulu, shopping until you drop, or overindulging in alcohol to avoid unpleasant emotions and uncomfortable conversations.
To avoid these feelings, you may also use simpler distractions like being on your phone or working late.
21. You feel lost, or like you’ve sold yourself out.
Whether you finally believe the countless loved ones who have pointed out the changes in you, or you realize it yourself, you feel like a shell of who you used to be.
You don’t know your values, beliefs, passions, or goals, but you recognize the differences in yourself.
You follow along and allow your partner to define you. You do what you think you should do rather than what you want to do.
What to Do If You Lose Yourself in a Relationship
Deciding how to reclaim your identity depends on how lost you are and whether your relationship can (or should) be salvaged.
Whether you’re just on the verge of saying, “I feel like I’m losing myself,” or you can full-on declare “I’ve lost myself,” there are steps you can take to recover your identity, commit to living your own life–and (likely) save your relationship.
- Create personal space and time. Spend time alone to relearn your favorite hobbies and interests, and then schedule more alone time to pursue them.
- Spend time with friends and family. Reconnect with loved ones you’ve neglected recently. Make a point to stay in touch and make plans regularly.
- Set boundaries and communicate them. Be open and honest about what you want, need, and feel, and encourage your partner to do the same.
- Do things without your partner. It’s great to do things together, but alone time is crucial to maintaining individuality. Balance your alone time and together time, so you’re both happy.
- Make time for self-care. Love, respect, and care for yourself. Make yourself happy.
- Don’t over compromise. Create a healthy balance of give-and-take that allows you both to feel supported.
- Learn to say no. Stay true to your thoughts, beliefs, and preferences. Speak up when you disagree or if something makes you uncomfortable.
A healthy relationship is one in which you feel happy and connected to your partner while you each maintain your independence without feeling guilty or lying.
You are worthy and capable of creating a meaningful connection with someone who loves you and wants the best for you.
Whether you decide to work on this relationship or cut ties and start fresh, you can 100% regain your independence and live a life you love–with or without a partner.