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It’s in our nature as humans to seek satisfying, meaningful relationships that give us a sense of acceptance and belonging. But sometimes, the price we pay to feel loved might cost us our identity and we yield unhappiness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction instead. This should not happen to you. No matter how desperate you might be for a relationship, you must not forget who you are. This article will give you 10 warning signs you are losing yourself in a relationship.
When you find love and belonging either with an intimate partner, family, or a group of friends, you feel complete, happy, satisfied and motivated. However, sometimes things don’t always work out this way. It all starts out rosy at first, promising and satisfying. Then you realise over time that what you have become or what your life has become is not what you anticipated or hoped for. You realise that you are not happy at all, but mostly scared, frustrated, lost, anxious, or sad most of the time. And you spend all your energy satisfying and making the other person happy. You realise sadly, that your whole life revolves around one person or a group of people.
When you arrive at this point, it means you have lost yourself in that relationship. You are more like a puppet working on command to satisfy whoever holds the reins. And at this point, it might be too late because the process of rediscovering and finding yourself might be tedious. I don’t even want to talk about you having to break away from that person or group of people. Especially if for some reason you have become dependant on them. So you might want to be on the lookout for the warning signs of losing yourself in a relationship. After all, they say prevention is cheaper, easier, better, and less painful than the cure.
What can lead to you losing yourself in a relationship?
Mostly losing yourself might happen when you are involved with the wrong kind of people such as an addict or someone that has a mental health problem. Narcissistic, borderline, or anti-social personality disorders may cause a partner/friend to be manipulative, abusive, controlling, and they might hijack your life. Other causes might include;
- A toxic partner
- Undefined boundaries
- Low self-esteem/self-worth
- Desperation for love
- Lack of self-love
How can you know you are losing yourself if you don’t know who you are in the first place? What does it mean to know yourself? You know yourself when you know your temperament, values, dreams, desires, principles, priorities, strengths, weaknesses, and life vision.
Warning signs you are losing yourself in a relationship
Below are some of the warning signs and it’s better to set boundaries or get out and walk away while you still can.
You lose self-confidence
Self-confidence is influenced by intrinsic (Genetics) and extrinsic (past and present experiences) factors. I’ve seen a person that once believed in himself and his abilities broken down to a puppet because he suddenly became unsure and doubtful of himself. This might happen if you are constantly put down, humiliated, insulted, abused, or neglected by your partner. It’s most common when you are involved with a bully. Learn more about the different types of bullying in this article. You have lost your self-confidence if you;
- Feel inferior and doubt yourself
- Focus on your shortcomings and flaws
- Ignore or unaware of your victories
- Often feel ashamed, afraid, anxious, or lost
- Speak negatively of yourself
- Compare yourself to others or your partner
- Always feel out of control and dependent.
You don’t have an opinion
Your opinion about certain things or the decisions you make is always shot down or discarded in the relationship. The other person makes you feel like they know better and it’s wiser if you just follow along as they decide, plan, and implement. Over time, you become dependent on the other person and you fear or fail to make decisions in their absence whether big or small.
You are unhappy
You are generally unhappy all the time. I’m not talking about the euphoric, ecstatic feeling you get when you receive a shiny new thing or latest car. I’m talking about that feeling that you get when you are alone with your thoughts and your feelings. That feeling you get when you are in bed staring at the ceiling and ruminating over what your life is all about.
We all seek human relationships in order to satisfy certain needs. However, when those needs are not met, it causes dissatisfaction and this results in unhappiness. Our needs are not generic but individually tailored. If you are unhappy in a relationship, it might mean that you are not yielding what you expected to from that particular relationship. It could also be that you are putting in so much more than you are taking and it’s draining all your energy.
You compromise your principles and core values
We all have fundamental beliefs, values or virtues and these define who we are setting us apart from the next person. In any given relationship, it’s normal to compromise and reason for the sake of mutual agreement, unity and harmony. However, there are certain principles that must not be compromised. Doing so might lead to feelings of low self-esteem/self-worth, stress, anxiety and other detrimental effects on your wellbeing and mental health.
You are overdoing the compromise thing if you have to break all the rules and core principles that define and govern you as a person. Doing so also breaks all healthy boundaries leaving you vulnerable and at risk of abuse and bullying. Your principles and beliefs have to be respected by anyone that loves or cares about you. You must never be forced to do something you would never do in your right state of mind.
You cry a lot
Crying a lot in any given relationship is not only a sign that you are losing yourself, but it also means that you are entangled in a toxic relationship. Crying often is a cause of deep sadness and emotional trauma. We all cry once in a while. But if you find yourself crying ever too often, it could mean that you are broken most of the time. And this is bad for your mental health.
You are always apologising
You find yourself saying sorry even when you are right or hurting just to save the relationship or avoid a negative reaction from your partner.
A good apology is a perfect remedy for saving relationships and strengthening bonds. However, it could be a sign you are losing yourself if you find yourself doing it too often. This could be happening for a number of reasons;
- It could be that you are ever under stress and you make too many mistakes
- You are dealing with a perfectonist, narcist, or a toxic individual that makes you feel you are always wrong or blames you for everything
- You have low self-esteem and you blame yourself for everything.
Whichever is the case among the options mentioned above, you are losing yourself if you are forever saying sorry. It takes two to tangle and for every reaction, there is a background action. Whatever wrong thing you are doing, the other person has a part to play in it. It is not always entirely your fault. If you are too stressed out, consider taking a break.
You say yes to everything
You say yes to everything even when you want to say no. This might also come with disregarding your principles and beliefs to play along with everything so long the other person is pleased and approves.
The goal for the”Yes man/woman” is to please everyone and to be liked by everyone. This is the best recipe for losing yourself. Yes, it’s good to fit in and to belong, but this must not come at the expense of who you really are. The person or people that you are trying to please might not always be part of your life, what happens when you find yourself in a new place with different people or if they leave you? Will you attach yourself to someone else and become what they are to please them? How many personalities do you plan to have eventually? So exhausting!
You are always seeking approval
Whatever you do, you have the other person in mind thing if they will approve or they will be happy with it. You do things not because that’s the way you like them but because that’s the way some else likes them.
Approval seeking means you value the beliefs, opinions, and needs of others more than your own. It might also mean you have low self-esteem/low self-worth. Learn how to build your self-esteem here.
What does approval-seeking look like?
- Telling someone what they want to hear
- Apologising constantly even when others have not expressed disaproval
- Being someone that people would find impressive
- Fearing critism
- Always saying yes
- Gosiping about others
- Doing things to get compliments, attention, or likes
- Going against your principles to please others
You feel controlled
You deserve to feel in control of your life. If you are always feeling like the other person is always all up in your business; telling you what you must/must not do, how/when to do it, etc you will eventually lose yourself. You run the risk of realising one day how much you lived under someone’s shadow. How you made their dreams come true discarding your own dreams. And how you merely existed as an instrument of another person’s selfish satisfaction.
Certain people such as perfectionists, narcists, and those that have low self-esteem, borderline, or histrionic personality disorders have a factor of control in them and are always staying on top of things. Dealing with these types of people might drain your energy and make you live life on their terms. If you really love the person, find help with a professional with them in order to preserve your sanity and happiness. Otherwise, avoiding such kind of company will do you so much good.
You are lonely
You feel empty, unheard, unappreciated, and unloved despite all your efforts to please the other person. And you turn to other avenues to fill up the void and emptiness such as alcohol/drug abuse or risky behaviour. Loneliness is emotional and mental isolation and can be caused by a number of things including silent treatment.
Love and relationships involve a good amount of sacrifice and compromise in order for them to work. But not when you are the one always sacrificing and compromising. That’s not right. It’s funny because you trying so hard to become exactly what the other person wants will not keep your relationship. Instead, it will hurt you more than it would if you stay true to yourself. You will definitely be unhappy and toxic not only to your partner but to everyone around you. Your unhappiness will negatively affect the person you are trying so hard to please by mutating yourself and that is a recipe for a failed relationship.