In most of my past relationships, I have been the one building and sustaining the love, trust, and intimacy. I would give my time, energy, money, and my heart in my relationships because I value making my-love, feel loved and appreciated. In most cases, this behavior is not viewed negatively. There is nothing wrong with being attentive and caring in your relationship, but not without self-love, which I was lacking.
I have realized that the time I spent pouring into my past relationships caused me to lose myself because I did not give equal amounts of time to taking care of myself. Most of my efforts went to making sure they were happy that I neglected my own happiness. I know that most women and femme are taught to nurture and to serve their partners but this hyper masculinity was costing me my sanity, so I made the self-love choice to no longer settle. Here are 5 reasons why I and other women lose themselves in their relationship:
1. Lacking “Me Time”
I completely neglected spending time with myself when I had a boyfriend. I didn’t realize how deep the neglect was until after my last breakup. Life was so busy with my 1-year-old, extended family, friends, work, my brand, and our relationships, and I completely excluded myself from my list of to do’s. If you are a mom like me, and your child never sees you take-care of yourself, do you think that they will grow up and have healthy self-care and self-love habits?
We have to show our children what self-love looks like by our example. Spending time alone, helps you discover who you are. Here are some ways that I have incorporated self-love and adequate ME time into my lifestyle:
- Focusing on my passions; journaling, wine tasting, reading, writing poetry, photography, building my brand, etc.
- Taking long baths and detox baths
- Turn my phone on DND for 30 minutes (no disruptions)
- Going on walks
- Deep breathing exercises
- Taking a long drive (the scenic route)
- Listening to music
- Getting a manicure or pedicure
- Getting a facial or massage
- Watching the sunset or sunrise
You are just as important to your relationship as your significant other is.
2. Limited meetups with friends
Why do we stop spending time with our friends when we get into a relationship? At the start of every new relationship, I slowly stopped calling and texting my friends. I was always canceling on going out with them or was completely M.I.A. because I was “boo-lovin’ ” with my partner. Eventually, some of my friends stopped reaching out to me and some friendships completely ended.
Losing friends helped me understand that maintaining friendships is essential when you are in a relationship. When my relationships ended, I wanted to talk to my friends and I couldn’t. I felt guilty that disconnected from them. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend as much time with your significant other, but you have to maintain the balance. You cannot have a friendship without active communication and making the time for your girls. Make time for friends and make time for your partner. Simple.
If you are wondering how you can spend as much time with your man and your friends, here are four tips to help:
- Go on double-dates with one of your friends partner
- Have group dates with friends
- Have monthly quality time and meetups
- Host parties and gatherings at your place
It may take some maturity, but learn to prioritize your friendships and relationships so that you can have the best of both worlds.
3. holding it all in …
Typically, I have no problem voicing when I am wrong or if I am hurt by something. In my last relationship, our rocky foundation caused a lot of distrust. Somehow, our relationship lasted seven years, but this came with a lot of unhealthy communication. It got so difficult to talk to my partner about my concerns that I started to feel like a nag, so I began to suppress my emotions.
Although, I do believe that there are some things that are petty to get into an argument over or even a discussion about, but if something your partner says or does bothers you so much that you begin to resent them, having active communication is essential. Holding in my feelings and thoughts for fear of nagging, caused me to lose my individual voice in my relationship.
When I was hurt or upset, I would quietly hold on to my heartache. By letting things go, or pushing my emotions to the side, consistently, I continued this unhealthy way of holding on to my feelings and it had become my norm. We both experienced the effects of this unhealthy communication which caused us to distrust one another. I didn’t trust myself enough to disclose my feelings.
Speak up about what bothers you! If you have active communication as a couple, then you are more likely to sustain your personal wellness in your relationship. If you are called a nag or told to stop nagging about something that bothers you in your relationship, that’s a sign to pay attention to the patterns. If your partner does not want to actively work on what is bothering you in your relationship, what does that say about them?
4. Taking On “Baggage”
Have you been in a relationship with someone with trust issues? Well, that’s baggage that they have carried from past relationships into your current relationship. There are other types of baggage that people carry outside of having trust issues, including trauma, anger issues, abuse, neglect, and many other painful experiences that individuals go through in relationships.
I have been in a few relationships with jealous people. At first, it was flattering, but jealousy quickly changed into control. Wanting to control someone or change someone is a sign of emotional instability. Often times, this is baggage that they carried from childhood, from being cheated on, or being lied to. Here are some warning signs that you are in a relationship with someone who is trying to change, control, or manipulate you:
- they get jealous over simple things (conversations or hugs from other guys, etc.)
- they monitor your phone calls
- they try to diminish your confidence and self-esteem
- they go through your phone and social media pages
- they gaslight you when you have a concern with their behavior
- they’re constantly asking you where you are and what you are doing
- they pick fights with you about spending time with other genders
- their support is limited when you are successful
- they act jealous when you go out with friends
- they call and text you repeatedly while you are out
- they try to change how you dress, your behaviors, or your personality
- they make you feel like no one else will ever love you
If the person you are with does not trust you, tries to control or change you, it may be time to re-evaluate your commitment to them, why you are allowing this behavior, and what you truly desire in your relationship. You deserve what you desire.
5. unhealthy Attachment
After the woo-phase or the honeymoon-phase of a relationship ends, it is replaced by what Emma Merkas, Australia’s leading relationships expert, calls the attachment phase, described in an article by Cosmopolitan Australia. According to Merkas, as described in the article, The Three Stages of Love “The strongest relationships move to the Attachment stage, where couples build comfortable and long-lasting bonds...a more relaxed place to be. Nights on the couch in trackies suddenly look much better than swinging from the chandeliers!”
What the article does not describe is the unhealthy attachment that can also develop in phase two of a relationship. When you lose yourself in your relationship, every choice, thought or feeling is in relation to your partner. Instead of “I” statements, everything is “us” and “we.” When you lose singleness, you can build unhealthy attachments to others, expecting them to show up for you the way you need to show up for yourself.
I stopped considering myself. I stopped prioritizing my self-care and focused on taking care of my partner. I stopped listening to myself and listened to their thoughts and feelings and tried t change who I was to meet their needs. I spoke kindly to them but beat myself up about not staying true to myself. I respected them but disrespected myself.
These are negative attachments that occur when you are neglecting yourself in your relationship. YOU MATTER just as much as your partner.
Don’t neglect your needs, desires, and dreams because you are in a committed relationship. You were an individual before you were a couple.