We spend most of our lives trying to figure out who we are and building our identities. It’s no wonder one of the biggest fears among singles is that they’ll lose themselves once they’re in a relationship.
Turns out the fears are somewhat warranted: A recent study from the University of Liverpool in the U.K. found that of the men and women who had entered into a married or cohabiting relationship for the first time during the study, many noted they experienced a loss of their single identities, specifically after moving in with their partners.
While it’s common for couples to begin doing everything together, one of the most important elements of succeeding at your relationship is to continue letting your individual identity shine. Your personal identity is what keeps your relationship healthy and balanced.
Losing yourself can lead to feeling stuck in your relationship and having unfulfilled desires. What can you do regain your own identity if you feel it’s already slipping away?
1. Have a regular date night with your friends.
Sure, your friends are my friends — kumbaya and all that jazz — but having a healthy relationship at home means having healthy relationships outside of the home with friends and family. Don’t be one of those people who get into a relationship and are never seen again socially without their significant other.
2. Pursue your passion project.
Remember that side project you were super passionate about when you met your significant other? It’s probably part of the reason they fell in love with you. So don’t lose that side of yourself.
3. Take a weekend away without your significant other.
Research shows that time away from your significant other may help you feel more independent and personally fulfilled. Plus, if you’re cohabiting or married, this time away can lead to actually missing one another — in turn, making you closer once you return.
4. Learn something new about yourself.
Self-development is a key factor in maintaining your independence. Take a seminar, get some coaching, learn how to meditate and discover something new about yourself. Learning how to recreate yourself within your relationship is invaluable.
5. Get a hobby.
Let your passions and discovery collide in a hobby you can call your own. Love to paint? Want to learn how to write that novel? Do you love saving puppies? No matter what you’re into, there’s a class, meet-up or an organization that can help you maintain that hobby and have you doing things you love and enjoy.
People who lose themselves in their relationships tend to regret that decision later on in life. Stay proactive about maintaining your own identity and social life. Your marriage will be better for it in the end!