When we’re with someone we love, it’s natural that we take on some of their characteristics over time, and vice versa. We may also take on some of their likes or dislikes, as well. That’s one of the reasons why I love old Westerns now when I used to turn up my nose at them. My husband adores them and I adore him, so we watch them together and I’ve come to realize they aren’t half bad. Likewise, been able to convince him that Joanna Gaines is the voice of our generation and he now indulges in Fixer-Upper marathons with me that last way later than they should.
Still, even in a long-term relationship, it’s important to maintain your own identity separate of your significant other. If not, you could quickly find yourself wondering who you are now and forgetting who you were before you became one half of a whole. If you’re wondering whether or not you’re slipping into this territory, read on. Here are five signs you may be losing yourself in your relationship.
1. Everything is “we” and nothing is “me.”
There are people who love to talk about themselves, and people who would rather wax poetic about the process of paint drying than ever utter the word “me.” However, if you’re constantly stating “we” instead of “me” or “I” when you’re making plans, talking about the future, or filling someone in on your life, that could signal an issue. For instance, say you run into someone from high school who you haven’t seen in 10 years. She asks you what you’ve been up to since graduation. Suddenly, you’re fluttering about saying things like “We are thinking of buying a house.” “We just got a dog.” “We have been going out to the vineyard on the weekends.”
What about all the things you’ve accomplished, friend? What about the diploma you earned, or that awesome career you’ve established? What about your new hobbies or that goal you have in mind? If you’re more comfortable talking about yourself as a pair, rather than an individual, it’s time to reevaluate if you’re as confident in your own skin as you are beside someone else’s.
2. You tolerate things you never would have before him.
We all have a moral compass, whether we want to admit it or not. Before you entered into this relationship, did yours have a stronger signal? Now, do you find yourself willingly being led into the dark unknown, even while the North star is right above you, desperately pleading with you to turn around and go in a different direction? For instance, maybe you used to be a teetotaler, but now you’re allowing his 12-pack to take up up residence in your fridge every weekend. Maybe you once abhorred smoking, but you find yourself washing his cigarette smell out of your clothes every night.
Those might be some examples, but the most serious point, in this case, is that it’s never OK to tolerate abuse, no matter how minor you might reason to yourself that it is. If you find yourself making excuses for immoral, inhumane or unjust behavior, you have a voice. Contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline to seek the help you need.
The bottom line? You shouldn’t have to justify your partner’s behavior to anyone and that includes yourself. If it feels wrong, icky or just “off” it probably is.
3. Your stuff is now less important than his.
If you’ve moved in together, take a look around the place. Did you bring in your furniture, accent pillows, throw blankets and yoga mat? Or, did you donate or give most of that stuff away to take up residence in his bachelor pad? While you don’t have to necessarily hang frilly lace curtains in every room, you deserve to hold onto the things that bring meaning and joy to your life, and you should be allowed to enjoy them openly.
For some, this might seem benign. Yet, think of the message it’s sending. In essence, you’re saying that your possessions aren’t worth as much and don’t hold as much value. That translates deeper to a belief that you do not hold as much value as he does. If you can’t compromise on material goods, there’s a chance you can’t compromise on the bigger, immaterial issues either and it’s time to have that talk.
4. You agree automatically.
It starts simple enough. Many couples can’t agree on where to eat dinner, and one person’s opinion ends up triumphing the other’s. Yet, think of how often your dinner choice gets agreed upon compared to his. If you find yourself constantly choking down that same hamburger wondering when you’re ever going to get that glass of chardonnay at the wine bar downtown, you could be losing yourself in the relationship without even knowing it.
One of the first inclinations that something might be askew is that you find yourself agreeing to plans and outings in an almost automatic sense before you really have time to consult your calendar or make sure it’s even what you want to do. If you’re just picking date nights now, that’s one thing (though it could quickly snowball).
However, think about the big decisions you’ll be making together down the road if this relationship turns serious. From your wedding to where to live and how to raise your babies, you want to be in a union where your voice is heard. If you need to, follow a checklist to help you plan big events in harmony. Consult a third party to help mediate if you’re disagreeing on big life goals. Work together to find a solution to your discord and make sure everyone feels validated and important.
5. You miss your me time.
Even the most extroverted extrovert needs a little “me time” now and then. Do you crave it more than you used to? If you find that all of your spare hours are spent alongside your significant other, you may be losing yourself and not even realize it. If your partner isn’t willing to give you the space you crave, it might be a signal of possessiveness or jealousy, both of which are caustic and can lead to more serious issues.
You should have the freedom to spend a night out on the town or at home taking a long bubble bath, without feeling the need to constantly check in or come back early. Saying “no” to a date night, concert, corporate function or anything along those lines doesn’t make you a prude or a brat. It simply makes you someone who values time spent in reflection and self-care. You reveal what you value by showing who you value and you should put yourself right up there at the top.
Ultimately, it doesn’t take a lot for someone to lose themselves in a relationship. Even the sweetest ones can turn toxic if time, attention and care aren’t poured freely and intentionally into them. Take the time to take a step back. Do you feel recognized, validated, respected and adored? If the answer is anything but “absolutely,” then it’s time to take that next step out.