Are you here looking for signs of losing yourself in a relationship? Well, if you have stopped watching your show or quit your favorite seafood dish just because your partner hates it, you are slowly getting lost in a relationship. If you have made your partner the center of your world and adopted their social life as yours, you will feel trapped sooner or later.
Hints of losing your identity might be as subtle as these but they will loom large if gone unnoticed for a long time. To spend every waking moment being in love feels amazing until it leads to a major identity crisis. Eventually, everything that makes you ‘you’ starts getting dissolved into the likes and dislikes of your partner.
And you end up thinking, “Who am I? Am I even myself anymore? I feel completely lost as my own values and opinions are barely important to my partner.” Well, we are here to show you how feeling lost in a marriage or a toxic relationship can look and validate your urge of taking a break from a relationship to find yourself.
What Does It Mean To Lose Yourself In A Relationship?
To lose yourself in a relationship means you slowly shed every personality trait, every unique quality, every wish, every passion, and goal that characterizes you as a wholesome person. Jennifer Lopez shared some solid advice on self-love and loving someone else in an interview, “You’ve got to love yourself first. You’ve got to be okay on your own before you’re okay with someone else. You’ve got to value yourself and know that you’re worth everything.”
As she articulates, it is very important to maintain that unique individuality when you are sharing your life with another person. If you spend most of your time thinking, “I am losing myself in a relationship,” are you even in a healthy relationship? What are the things that you are doing wrong? Before you merge into a big blob with your current partner, let’s figure out what is it like to lose your own identity to an overshadowing partner:
- You have probably stopped doing things that you don’t have in common with your partner
- Being overly involved in your partner’s life and vice versa shifts your focus from your own well-being and purpose in life
- You would know you are losing yourself mentally when you have zero control over your life
- If you often feel numb, unsure, and live life on autopilot mode, it could be one of the signs of losing yourself in a relationship
- It may seem like betraying your heart, soul, and mind, and being unfair to yourself
- Your primary identity is that you are someone’s partner or spouse and not the name and status you have built for yourself
- Your own opinions, own thoughts, and core values seem secondary as you constantly try to please your partner by agreeing to everything they say and want
8 Signs You Are Losing Yourself In A Relationship
Losing yourself is worse than losing people you love. The relationship that you have with yourself sets the foundation for all the other relationships in your life. When you are not yourself, it always has a ripple effect on everything else you hold dear. Unless you are happy and content as the person that you are, how do you expect to offer your partner a fulfilling relationship? So, for your own benefit and your partner’s, here are some of the major signs of losing yourself in a relationship:
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1. You have stopped doing the things that you love
My mother once told me, “I’ve seen myself lose my sense of self in a relationship. After becoming a wife and mother, I stopped taking care of myself physically. I used to eat well and exercise but discontinued that. I would barely put any effort into doing my hair and makeup. I got so busy taking care of people that I forgot about my own interests and how to feel good about myself.”
Have you too become so absorbed in your relationship that you have stopped taking time out for things that you genuinely love? It could be hanging out with your best friends, pursuing a hobby, meditating, or writing. Heck, you might even have stopped looking at yourself in the mirror let alone following that ten-step skin regime.
You know what, self-care and spending quality time with yourself are absolute necessities to keep your mental and physical health satiated. Giving up on all the fun things that brought you sheer joy and peace, and thinking about your relationship most of the time, is bound to invite an identity crisis.
2. You can’t stand being away from your partner
As the lyrics by Jhené Aiko go, “You don’t need no me time. That’s you and me time.” That might sound super romantic in a song but in reality, you need that me time. You should provide yourself with ample personal space and time, not just to retain your identity in a relationship but for your professional and individual growth as well. If the following scenarios sound relatable, you might be losing yourself mentally in the process of loving someone:
- You rarely keep any alone time on your schedule
- You want to spend every minute of every day with them and won’t go anywhere without your significant other
- You feel anxious away from your partner and don’t remember what you used to do without them in your life
- Your social life is now dimming down as they are your only friend and companion
3. Your friends and family members are worried about you
When I was losing myself in a relationship, a pretty toxic one for that matter, my friends and family members could see it months before I could. They kept telling me things like I had become a different version of myself and I have abandoned them as we would barely spend time anymore. I was in complete denial so I never paid any heed to their words and let all my other relationships suffer for that one person who made me question my self-worth.
When we are in love, we put on rose-tinted glasses and un-see every red flag in a partner. So, we need people who can shake us and give us a reality check. Don’t make the same mistake I made and take the advice of your loved ones seriously. If they are concerned that you are giving too much of yourself in the relationship, you better find ways to stop losing your own identity before it’s too late.
Related Reading: How Spending Time With Friends Helps Improve Your Relationship
4. Why are you feeling lost in a relationship? Lack of boundaries
Do you find yourself agreeing to be a part of plans and activities you don’t necessarily enjoy doing? For example, you might be an introvert who loves reading books or working out/meditating in your free time. But ever since you have been in a relationship, you force yourself to go to parties just because your partner is an extrovert. You are exhausted. Setting boundaries in a relationship is less likely to invite such negative feelings and situations:
- Agreeing to sexual activities even if you are not in the mood just so you don’t hurt their feelings
- Being okay with your partner making decisions on all financial matters without even consulting you
- Dealing with instances when your partner shows zero respect for your work hours or your alone time
- Being okay when they make plans on your behalf without checking with you
- Staying in a verbally abusive relationship and allowing your partner to repeatedly pass hurtful comments or making jokes that trigger you emotionally
Making peace with unhealthy boundaries is one of the signs of losing yourself in a relationship. If you can’t put yourself first and hesitate to voice your likes and dislikes to your partner, it can eventually damage your self-worth and make you feel inadequate at every step of life. So, what do you do when you feel like you’re losing yourself and your boundaries? Learning to say ‘no’ is a great start.
5. You feel disconnected from your own feelings
Alan Robarge points out on his YouTube channel, Attachment Trauma Therapist: “It is self-betrayal if you are denying your own needs and desires by rationalizing and telling yourself that it’s okay to stay in a chaotic, unsatisfying, challenging relationship that only causes chronic disappointment. You keep giving the benefit of the doubt to your partner, even when this relationship lacks consistent emotional stability and you constantly feel misunderstood, rejected, and depleted.
“If you know that your partner is showing a lesser degree of emotional availability and you are still trying to convince yourself to be okay with that level of interaction, you end up shutting yourself down and feeling disconnected from your own feelings. Losing identity in a relationship can feel like a dissociated, trance-like state of not being fully present, as you are pretending and convincing yourself that you are happy, even when deep inside you know that you are not.”
6. Your life is centered around your partner
How to be sure that you are losing identity in your relationship and that it’s not just a rough phase of life? To help you find the answer to this question, we have a few follow-up questions:
- Do you spend time thinking, talking to, or dreaming about your partner for a major portion of the day?
- Do you hardly have a life outside of your relationship and your social life keeps shrinking because you keep canceling other plans to spend time with your partner?
- Have you changed so much for them that now you are just a carbon copy of your partner?
- Is your happiness totally dependent on your partner and you lose your mind whenever you face relationship issues?
- Do you take your partner’s approval in making the smallest of decisions?
- Are you so scared to lose your partner that you end up compromising your own goals, and yourself above all, more than you should?
All these are indisputable signs of a codependent relationship. Maybe there is a false reward or payoff involved. For example, “My partner treats me like crap but damn, he is awesome in bed.” Or your partner is rich/famous/powerful and you’ve tied your identity so closely to their stature that you’d do anything to keep it, even if it means letting them walk all over you.
7. You hold your partner in high esteem
Do you remember the character of Pacey Witter from Dawson’s Creek who is the epitome of someone who idealizes their partner? There is a scene in which Pacey asks Andie, “Why do you like me? I’m a screw-up, Andie. I’m thoughtless. I’m insecure. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why a woman like you would bother to care about me.”
Putting your partner on a high pedestal so much so that you become blind to their flaws is one of the signs of losing yourself in a relationship. This kind of relationship dynamic stems from an existential crisis or low self-esteem which makes one feel that they are nothing outside their relationship. They would go to the extent of reasoning out the shortcomings and wrong actions of their partner.
For instance, my friend Justin would justify his boyfriend’s hot-and-cold behavior by saying, “He had a tragedy in his family a few years back and the trauma made him emotionally unavailable. But he means well.” He said this even though his partner made him come to a point where Justin was left constantly seeking reassurance of love. If the situation has escalated to this point, taking a break from a relationship to find yourself won’t be such a bad idea.
8. You constantly look for distractions
Let’s talk about feeling lost in a marriage. My friend Paul told me, “When I was feeling lost in my marriage, I started drowning myself in unhealthy coping mechanisms. I started drinking more, binge-eating junk food, or working extra hours just to avoid facing reality. I didn’t want to leave her so I distracted myself. How could I lose my sense of self in a relationship? All I wanted was to feel myself again and I didn’t know how.”
If you are struggling as Paul did, know that there’s a way out. If identity can be lost, it can be found too. Being aware that you are losing the ‘me’ while becoming ‘we’ is itself a powerful revelation. Once you gather the courage to be honest, it becomes easier to mend your relationship with yourself. Here are a few steps that can help you in finding yourself as well as the kick that keeps a relationship alive.
5 Steps To Find Yourself Again
Have you seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love? Do you remember how Liz lost herself in her marriage and used the divorce as a wake-up call for self-discovery? She stepped out of her comfort zone and embarked on a long journey to know herself. So, if not a year-long international tour, what do you do when you feel like you’re losing yourself? Thinking about your relationship most of the time or seeking reassurance that nothing has changed isn’t going to help your cause.
Rather, you should use this as an opportunity to get in touch with the inner work of your mind, body, and soul and find answers to some important questions. What do you really want from life? What are the activities that make you genuinely happy? When you feel numb, what path do you take to feel peaceful again? We have some tips to share with you to find yourself again in a relationship and feel excited about your own interests and purpose in life:
1. Go solo
Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you stop enjoying solitude. Every once in a while, take out some me time – just a couple of hours from your busy day. It could be going to a fancy dinner, shopping alone in a mall, eating alone at a café, running with earphones on, reading a book, drinking alone at some bar, or even taking a solo trip. The key to retaining your individuality in a relationship is to become your own best friend. Find your home in yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company.
Related Reading: How To Love Yourself – 21 Self Love Tips
2. Ground yourself
Detachment from your own emotions and feelings is one of the signs of losing yourself in a relationship. So, it is important to create a balance among your mind, body, and soul. Grounding exercises can help you cope with the fear of losing yourself in a relationship:
- Practice deep breathing
- Spend some time in nature
- Listen to soothing music
- Get adequate sleep
- Maintain a gratitude journal or a journal where you can vent
- Do anything that moves your body like walking, dancing, or swimming
- Cut down on the negative thoughts and people and the other things that make you doubt your worth
3. Prioritize other people too
Just because you have a partner now doesn’t mean you underestimate the value of friendship in your life. Hang out with people who make you feel like the truest version of yourself. Spend more time with childhood friends, who love you even at your worst and don’t judge you. Spend time with those who don’t make you feel that you have to pretend in order to be accepted by them. The energy you gain from these people will give you the kick that keeps a relationship alive.
4. Be willing to walk away
Whether it’s a new relationship where mutual respect is fundamentally missing or an old relationship gone toxic for your mental health, these are signs you need to walk away from a relationship. You have to believe in the possibility that you have the power to create the life you want and you don’t have to settle for anything less than that (and treat it as the new normal). Know that compromising yourself all the time is not okay and be vocal about it if you can’t find the traits that make you ‘you/’
5. Seek therapy
Therapy is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself. When you talk to a licensed therapist, you feel heard and validated. Finding a release for your thoughts in a therapy session could be a good way to cope with the fear of losing yourself in a relationship. A therapist can help you identify problems (rooted in childhood trauma) and can even give suitable solutions. Our counselors at Bonobology are just a click away.
- Feeling lost in a relationship means feeling disconnected from your feelings and not being able to put yourself first
- If your loved ones are worried about you and you are unable to set healthy boundaries with your partner, you are losing yourself in a relationship
- To find yourself, take some time out for solo activities and practice grounding exercises that anchor you in the present moment and help you regain self-worth
- Seek help from a licensed therapist or walk away from your partner if nothing’s working and it’s getting too toxic for your mental health
Now that you can spot your weakness from the probable signs of losing yourself in a relationship, don’t hesitate to put yourself first. If you want space, just be assertive and express it to your partner. You can only make your partner happy if you can make yourself happy. Fill your own cup first. Protect your own mental health. Once you are confident in your own skin and content about your own life, then only you can expect to devote yourself to a happy and healthy relationship.
This article has been updated in May 2023.
Yes, if you are losing yourself in a relationship, please know it’s common and you’re not alone. Even strong and independent people lose their sense of self sometimes and end up being in an enmeshed relationship. That is why it is important to consciously put effort into your relationship with yourself, just like you consistently work hard on your relationship with your partner.
Feeling lost in a relationship is like forgetting all the multiple identities you have and just giving importance to the identity of being someone’s partner. You feel that you are not being present in your own life, putting your own needs aside, and changing into a version of yourself that you cannot recognize anymore.