We’ve all been there—you meet a guy, fall in love, and suddenly your entire sense of self is lost in the enticing comfort of a new relationship. I’ve been doing this most of my life and it’s finally time to put a stop to it. I’m reclaiming my identity, domesticity be damned!
I’m the worst kind of serial monogamist. I’ve barely been single for more than three months since I was about 14 years old. It’s some mix of loving human connection and being afraid of being alone. Unfortunately, this means I hardly know myself outside of a relationship and a lot of my life has been spent in the shadow of my partner. Even when I haven’t had a real relationship going on, there’s always been some sort of friend-lationship in the background to keep my mind occupied and stop me from really focusing on me.
I tend to fall into the girlfriend role too easily. When I do get into a partnership, I really jump headfirst into it. I love loving and I love being loved, sue me. I’m a people person, no doubt about it, so I really do thrive in a relationship. I want to share my life with someone but that means I sometimes lose myself in the process. My partner becomes my world and I forget how awesome I am on my own.
I resent just being seen as “the girlfriend.” Even though I put myself in that role, I really do hate being seen as an accessory to someone else. There’s a constant battle in me between independence and togetherness and I’ve struggled for years to find a balance. I don’t even know if other people see me that way; I’m probably just projecting my own fears of being lost in the void of a relationship.
I forget all the fun things I want to do. Despite my history of attachment to other people, there are a lot of things I love to do on my own. Sadly, these things fall by the wayside most of the time since I’m so focused on my partner. I forget I have my own life going on outside of my relationship and I’m tired of it. I’m getting more and more antsy to do all the things I’ve thrown on the “later” pile.
I end up putting my life on hold. Following the harvest trail, backpacking through Europe, moving abroad—these are all things I might have done at various times in my life if I hadn’t been in relationships at the time. I’ve always had dreams of adventure and spontaneity but somehow I’ve pushed those things aside to focus on whichever guy I happened to be with at the time. I automatically assume that those things aren’t compatible and have cheated myself out of so many experiences as a result.
I find myself waiting around for my partner to make decisions. I give up a lot of my power in relationships. Maybe it’s just a case of succumbing to gender roles, or maybe I’m afraid to rock the boat. Whatever the reason, I’m getting sick of giving up my agency for the sake of a relationship. I tend to hand over the reins and let my boyfriend make the decisions a lot of the time and end up feeling lousy for it.
I lose touch with my badassery. As it happens, I’m actually a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a guy to validate or take care of me. It’s just that when I actually have a guy, I promptly forget that. I’ve spent way too much of my life pushing aside my own awesomeness for the sake of a relationship and I’m just about done with that.
When I’m alone again, I suddenly realize what I’m missing. On those rare occasions when I take some time out from a relationship, whether to travel alone, take some me time, or just hang with other friends, I realize how much of myself I’ve given up in my relationships. It’s not that the relationship itself it stifling, it’s that I shrink myself in the face of it to make room for my partner. It doesn’t have to be like this and I’m getting more and more eager to rediscover those lost parts of my personality.
I’m taking my life back into my own hands. After spending a week traveling by myself and visiting some friends, I reached a breaking point. It’s time I rediscovered myself as an independent woman. Any relationship I have is a bonus to my life, not the main attraction. Now, if only I could remember that when love comes along…
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