I never thought I’d be that girl that loses her identity in a relationship. A go-getting and intense Aries Dominicana, I love how authentic I am in all aspects of my life.Yet there I was, getting along to get along. It felt like an out of body experience, watching myself agree with my partner when I meant no. Deferring to him for all decisions, including choices affecting our relationship and my person directly, when I used to stand my ground. By the end of my relationship, I became a caricature of myself that neither I nor my loved ones recognized. And it took a lot of inner work and healing to love myself enough to stop losing my identity in a relationship. I promised myself I wouldn’t lose myself again.
Maybe you’ve been there or you’re there now. Maybe you’re reading this and are currently submerged in a relationship and desperately want to come up for air. Or perhaps it’s a close friend. Her need to please has shifted her personality so much she is unrecognizable. Everything in her life or your life has turned into a “we ” that you’ve forgotten that “I” also matters. This is when our emotional satisfaction and overall happiness suffers, and we lose our identity.
Science also backs up the importance of a woman’s identity outside of romantic relationships. In a 1963 study, Betty Friedan talked to hundreds of women struggling with depression. At that time, women didn’t have separate lives from their husbands and their marriage. Therefore, they felt like they were going through an identity crisis and had no personality. Although women have become a lot more independent since then, we still have a default mode, which is to give of ourselves way too much in our personal relationships.
How to Stop Losing Your Identity in a Relationship
So, how do we turn this around? How do we love our significant other without forgetting to love and be ourselves? How do we stop losing our identity in a relationship? Here’s some advice:
Connect or reconnect with your friends.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our relationship when in love and that can sometimes mean forgetting about our friendships. Like, we only call our girlfriends when there’s trouble in paradise or when we need something. That is a recipe for isolation because you’re living in a bubble. And when we live in a bubble we can’t see outside ourselves or our relationship.
If you continue to include your friends in your life when coupled up, they will help ground you so you don’t forget about yourself. So continue to have galtime regularly, even if you take a page from Sex and the City and schedule monthly brunch dates.
Schedule Me Time
It’s important to spend time with your friends and your significant other, but what about setting out time for just yourself? This may seem like a challenging concept, especially if you’re married with kids or a single mom, but it’s an essential part of self-care and self-preservation.
In order to stop losing your identity in a relationship, you have to either start or continue to nourish your relationship with self. Start with just 10 minutes a day. During that time, listen to music, read, write, dance, meditate, lay on the coach – do whatever the fuck strikes your fancy and connects you to your identity. Set boundaries with loved ones and tell them you need alone time. Walk away if you need to. Do what is necessary to spend quality time with yourself.
Write a Letter to Yourself to Stop Losing Your Identity in a Relationship
You may have stopped pursuing your goals when you became a Mrs. or a Mom. Thing is when we stop cultivating personal aspirations we lose our identity. Instead of starting that garden or launching that blog you’ve always wanted, you focus your energies outside of yourself. That’s why I encourage you to write a letter or a list of all of your current personal goals. Do this yearly or even quarterly. Our goals evolve as we do. Reminding yourself of the things you love to do and want to pursue will help you tap into your authentic self on an ongoing basis. And that, my friends, is a surefire way to stop losing your identity in a relationship.