Ever feel like you’re so deep in your relationship that you don’t even know who you are anymore? You’re not alone. If you’re like me, you give so much of your time, energy and love to your partner that sometimes you forget that you’re a whole person with your own set of needs independent of your partner. Here’s how to get out of that hole and get yourself back.
Examine your friendships. The first thing I do is examine my friendships and check in with my girls. Have I been neglecting my friendships lately? In my experience, my besties can usually sense my mini-meltdown coming and are quick to help me refocus, so I count on them for their unconditional love and honest advice.
Take some “me time.” You’re not selfish for needing a little distance. Don’t they say absence makes the heart grow fonder? I like to take a quick second and just focus on myself. Whether it’s taking a shopping trip or going to see my family for a weekend, I carve out some me time so that I can re-balance and get some perspective.
Start dating your partner again. Some of us in LTRs experience feeling lost because our relationships become comfortable, especially if you live with your partner or see them every day. Make a pact to have a date night or to sleep alone (if you don’t live together) a few nights of the week just to create a little anticipation and to miss the other person. Or, do something out of the ordinary like a staycation at a local bed and breakfast. The idea is to shake things up in your relationship again to make sure that what you’re feeling is attributed to getting comfortable and not something else.
Ask yourself if what you’re feeling is a sign of a bigger issue. Along the same lines, if it’s a bigger issue, have you thought about why? In the past, I’ve definitely depended on my relationships to fill in for other areas of my life where I was lacking, like in my career for example. My dependency made our relationship less of a give and take and more of a take. In past relationships, I expected my partner to absorb my drama. Truth is, it wasn’t fun for my partner and I still felt helpless after unloading all of it. While your partner should be a part of your support system, he/she shouldn’t bear the brunt of all your burdens. If you are experiencing this, find other outlets to help you deal with what’s going on in your life other than your partner.
Reevaluate your relationship goals. If you’re in an LTR, it’s probably healthy to check in and make sure that you and your partner are working toward the same goals. When I’ve felt lost in the past, it was because my relationship goals had changed and our relationship no longer felt like it fit me anymore. Don’t freak out if this is you—the first step to do if you feel like you’re no longer on the same track is to talk to your partner about where your relationship is headed and if you’re on the same page.
Communicate with your partner about how you’re feeling. Like I said above, communication is key. Sitting your partner down to talk about your feelings can be a bit scary, especially if you consider yourself a strong woman like me. Still, it’s essential or else you might keep spiraling.
Tell your partner what you need. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself and tell your partner what you need. If your partner doesn’t try to give you what you need, they might not have your best interests in mind.
Find some visual inspiration. If you’re deep into an LTR and you need some inspiration, go look at old pictures of you and your partner. Yes, I know this is corny but it can help. I find that we often take the little things for granted, like pictures of our favorite moments with our favorite people. I also think that visual reminders of the good things in our life help us focus on the positive things. Maybe you even put up new photos of you guys around your home or office as a reminder of your special connection.
Understand that it’s natural to change when you’re in a relationship. I’ll admit it—I’m a totally different chick when I’m single versus when I’m dating someone, but I don’t think that’s super uncommon. Going from taking care of and worrying solely about myself to incorporating another human into my everyday calculus totally contributes to this change in who I am. Instead of beating myself up about it, I’ve learned to accept it—but I’ve also learned that making sure that I’m satisfied and happy is even more critical.
Focus on loving yourself too, not just your partner. At the end of the day, you really only have yourself. You could be with someone for six months or 60 years but there’s still a chance that you may end up alone one day. If you’re feeling a little lost, if you don’t know what you guys are doing anymore, if it feels a little heavy, just stop and focus on loving yourself. Put on your freakum dress and get super cute to go out with your girls—for you. Take yourself to lunch or dinner. Buy yourself something nice. Exercise. Eat well. Just love yourself because you’re all you have.