I Refuse To Lose Myself In My Relationship — Here’s How I Keep My Independence

When you start dating someone seriously, the last thing you want to do is lose yourself in the relationship. It happens, of course. You spend all your time together to the point that you start melding into the same person. I’m guilty of it myself, but I hated what it did to my confidence and my sense of self-worth. That’s why I decided something had to change. These days, I refuse to lose myself in any relationship, and I do these things to ensure it doesn’t happen.

  1. I spend time with people other than my partner. I’m old enough now that I’m past the stage of life where I want to be attached at the hip to the same person 24/7. There’s no romanticism in that for me anymore and it’s just not appealing. When you spend every waking second by your partner’s side, it’s hard not to lose yourself in the relationship because it’s like the only thing that exists in your world. Not for me. I still hang out with my friends, spend time with my family, and even hit up happy hour with my colleagues after work sometimes.
  2. I make self-care a priority. In addition to seeing the other people in my life that I care about, I also make sure I spend time alone. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as they say. If I’m exhausted, emotionally drained, and feeling like I need a recharge, I spend time on my own doing things to nurture my soul. I take long baths, do some meditation, hit the gym or go for a run, and do other things that make me feel good and settled.
  3. I continue pursuing my hobbies and passions. When you lose yourself in a relationship, it’s often because you’ve lost a lot of the things that made you who you are. For instance, I love taking art classes and reading a lot, but when I was with one of my first boyfriends, I stopped doing that completely because I automatically just did whatever he wanted to. It’s no wonder that I felt so numb after we broke up and had to spend a long time rediscovering who I was again.
  4. I encourage him to do his own thing sometimes. This is a great way to ensure you don’t lose yourself in a relationship, I think. After all, it’s not all about you. There’s no sense in me having this incredible life outside of my relationship if he’s feeling isolated and codependent because he’s got nothing else going on. By not just being cool with him doing his own thing but actively encouraging it, I’m not just helping him, I’m helping myself and our relationship too.
  5. I work on furthering my career. I don’t just have a job that pays the bill, I have a career that I’ve worked hard for and that I care a lot about. It doesn’t define me, but it’s a big source of pride and something that brings a lot of meaning to my life. I’m not going to let that take a back seat just because I’m coupled up, so I keep working towards advancing my career. It’s important to me and I don’t want to let that go.
  6. I use “I” more than “we.” Isn’t it so annoying when two people start dating and suddenly, they no longer have their own opinions anymore? It’s all, “we think” this and “we want” that. This is a clear sign you’re going to lose yourself in the relationship if you haven’t already, and I’m not here for it. Even when I’m coupled up, most of my conversations feature what I want, what I think, and what I’m doing. I’m not against the idea of being a unit with my partner, but I’m still an individual too.
  7. I voice my opinions to my partner and don’t back down on them. Again, the danger of basically erasing all of my differing opinions and preferences for the sake of creating a harmonious relationship doesn’t appeal. Part of what attracts me to the people I date is that we challenge one another on things. I can respect him having a different opinion. I’m certainly not going to change mine to match his.
  8. I remind myself I was whole before I met him. People think it’s romantic to say that you can’t imagine your life without someone, but I think it’s scary. You’re going to lose yourself in the relationship if you think this way. Yes, someone can be important to you. However, you should always remember who you are beneath it all. I was okay before I met the guy and I’ll be fine again after. That’s something I remind myself of whenever I feel myself getting in too deep.
Two years ago, I moved from New York to London and I've just been trying to figure out life since.