I have spoken to several people who lose themselves in their relationships, sometimes straight away, sometimes over time. They lose their identity and either merge into their partner, into a particular role in the family or just don’t know who they are anymore. They lose a sense of themselves, of what makes them special, of what lights them up.
A big part of how I work with clients is for them to learn to understand themselves really well, to know who the true them is.
It is really important for us to explore who we are, what we want in life and how we can maintain a sense of identity and individuality while in a relationship.
Who is the true you?
This can be difficult to answer at the start, because sometimes we don’t really know until we start exploring. There are different things you can look at.
What is your personality like?
I was asked this question on Monday and the first thought was of lifting my kitten up into the air and pretending to be re-enacting the scene from Lion King! Then I realised 3 other people in my friend/family circle had also done that and I knew instantly that being silly and having fun and being surrounded by like minded people is so important to me and a part of who I am.
Be honest with yourself, what is your personality like? Even if it is things that others might not approve of. My ex-boyfriend didn’t appreciate my silly side, and in fact used it to put me down. But you know what, I love that side of me, my friends and family are all very similar in that regard and I don’t want to have to lose that to please others.
So, is there some part of you that you are hiding because you are worried what others will think?
When you are in your most comfortable and relaxed state, what are you like? How much does this differ from when you are with others? (obviously different situations call for different behaviours but is your core personality changing in those different situations?)
What do you love doing?
What hobbies do you do? What activities do you do that you love? If going to that dance class you love once a week is keeping you sane in a busy life and suddenly you stop because you are in a relationship, that starts to infringe on your happiness.
It is great to take an interest in a partner’s hobbies, but when you let go of yours to do just theirs (and it isn’t something you love), that can cause issues, because slowly you are losing a part of yourself.
That’s not to say our hobbies and activities don’t change over time, or we don’t prioritise our partner and family but it also doesn’t mean we give up everything.
Too many times, I’ve seen a couple get together and they stop all the things they did before and start to get bored of life and their happiness suddenly is the duty of their partner. Having that thing you do outside of your relationship (even if it is just watching your favourite TV show alone) keeps you in tune with yourself and gives you something to share with your partner and lights you up so you bring that spark to the relationship.
When you feel good about yourself and feel like you are achieving your goals, then you bring a different energy to that relationship.
What is important to you?
We all have different priorities in life. Hopefully our main goals and priorities in our current moment in life is somewhat similar to our partner’s. However, there will be things you deem important that your partner is less bothered about.
Understanding what is important to you is another aspect to explore. For instance, if you have been in a relationship for a while and marriage is really important to you, but your partner is less bothered about it, you need to be honest with yourself and acknowledge that. Then communicate it to your partner. Is this a make or break level of importance? Is this something you can compromise with your partner?
If your partner is set against marriage but you 100% want it, this will cause problems at some point if neither of you compromise. Knowing this helps you make better decisions for yourself.
This is an example of quite a big thing. It doesn’t always need to be this big.
For example, it could be going to the hairdressers to get your hair done regularly is an important part of your self-care routine. Your partner may think it is a waste of money but for you it is important. Or having time to sit quietly and read your book without your partner talking to you is at the top of your list of prioritises.
Whatever it is, make sure you are clear on what is important to you.
Have you got boundaries in place to support you being you?
Setting boundaries for your self-care is important. It is important because it stops us losing ourselves. Being clear on who we are and what our boundaries are means that when we get engulfed in a relationship, we don’t lose sight of those.
Boundaries allow you to make sure your standards are kept and stops you losing touch with what is important to you, like those hobbies.
Boundaries can be big or small, and regarding lifestyle and different personalities. For example, I’m more introverted and my husband is more extroverted. I need my alone time much more than he does. I have to tell him straight that I want him out (gives him an excuse to go fishing or to his cricket club) but it can come across a bit mean that I’m telling him I need space from him but through communication I made it clear this is for my self-care and nothing against him and he understands and gives me space. That is a boundary for me. It also means he doesn’t deal with a grumpy Ceza.
What are your boundaries?
What do you need to do for you?
What will allow you to step into your true personality?
Explore these questions and see where you aren’t embracing all of the real you and have a think about how you can bring more of the real you to the foreground.
If you find you are stuck and just don’t know how to get to the real you and want help to be able to live authentically and have a happy and healthy relationship, then book in a free discovery call with me.