Yikes! When I was asked to write this article, I thought somebody at HackSpirit had read my diary.
How else would they know that I’m the perfect person to write an article on warning signs that you’re losing your identity in a relationship?
All through my 20s, this was basically my M.O. and was something I really struggled with.
Once I realized what was happening, anyway.
In my case, I think it was a combination of things that kept leading to this again and again.
I seemed to always choose strong, even dominating partners. I was extremely flexible, and I’m definitely a people pleaser.
But eventually, I realized that this combination was damaging. Not only that, but when I started to lose my identity, I also became a lot more uninteresting to my partners.
So, from my old diary to you, here are some of the warning signs to help you realize that you might need to seriously reassess things before your identity gets completely lost in your relationship.
1) You’re spending less time with your friends
You know that old saying that you are the company you keep?
I think it’s really true for your close friends. Your identity is tied up in and related to the people who you admire and like to spend time with.
But when you stop spending time with those people, you can start to really feel separated from who you truly are.
I had one relationship where my partner really hated pretty much all of my friends. She found them too wild and too brash and was always annoyed by their humor.
So, I started to spend less and less time with them without even really thinking about it.
And it took a long time, but I realized that I shared so much of their personalities and sense of humor, and I was hiding that away in an attempt to please her.
I realized she actually didn’t like me – who I truly was, anyway!
So yeah, that one didn’t work out.
2) You’ve stopped doing the things you love
Just like your friends make up a big part of who you are, so do the activities you truly love.
I’m not the most extroverted person ever – come on, I’m a writer! – But I’m not totally introverted either.
I like to go out and meet people, listen to live music, and spend time outside of the house.
But my ex was a total homebody.
She loved to stay in, curl up on the sofa, and watch movies as she was a total movie buff.
And anytime I wanted to go out, whether with her or <gasp!> on my own, she was never down with it. In fact, she’d always have some excuse about how the workday was really tough, or she wasn’t feeling well.
So I usually relented, and eventually, I became a homebody, too.
When I did run into people, they’d act like I’d become a hermit and tease me that they’d just assumed I was dead.
But instead, I was letting a big part of me die inside the relationship by not doing the things I loved to do.
3) You can’t make decisions on your own
When you were single, you’d make all your own decisions, right?
But in your relationship, there are naturally some things you want to confer with your partner on before you decide.
And that’s normal, but there’s a big difference between conferring with them on bigger decisions that affect you both and bringing them into every single little choice you have to make.
The problem there is that you seem to get confused about what they need to know and what they need to have input into.
I know I would do things like go clothes shopping on my own sometimes but not buy anything until I video-called my partner and asked her what she thought.
At restaurants, I was guilty of asking, “What do you think I should have?” and that’s extremely basic, isn’t it?
What should I choose for myself to eat?!
This actually was a big sign for me that I was getting lost in the relationship, and I was starting to also lose confidence in my ability to make good choices.
4) Your life runs on your partner’s schedule
If you’re in a healthy relationship where both partners maintain individuality, then you’re probably very comfortable with doing your own things a lot of the time.
But if you’re starting to lose your identity in your relationship, one clear sign is running your life around your partner’s schedule.
And I don’t mean your shared schedule.
You might have shared obligations like kids and family things that you collaborate on.
And it’s totally normal to build a schedule together.
But here’s what I found myself doing in my first relationship after college.
A typical day involved me getting up super early to make breakfast for my girlfriend and then driving her to work before driving clear across town to start my own work day.
Most days, I basically snuck out of work early to pick her up, which eventually almost got me fired.
I had quit playing soccer on Wednesday evenings since that was always the day she had her other over for dinner, and on weekends, we were usually running work-related errands for her.
At some point, I realized I was more of a chauffeur than a boyfriend with his own life!
5) You and your partner start to dress the same
I wish I was joking, but yes, I have worn “couple shirts”.
You know, “His Queen” and “Her King.”
Yeah, I was that guy.
But if you think that was the worst of it, you’d be wrong.
The worst was when I came home with new shoes and my partner had bought the exact same ones. OK, hers were smaller, but how could that happen?
We weren’t obsessed with the brand or anything. We hadn’t talked about or coveted these shoes by any means.
It was just a random purchase for me, and yet I managed to get shoes that she liked so much that she also bought them.
I’m not sure I’m the most stylish guy around, but I thought I did sort of have my own style.
But the shoe incident made me realize that I was just dressing the way she would like rather than following my own inspiration.
I think it can be even more serious for couples who are the same size and who can wear each other’s clothes.
And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that if you share the same style and taste. But there is something wrong if you’re losing your own style and personal expression in your relationship like I was.
6) Your life goals have taken a back seat
Remember how you wanted to go back to school and get your Master’s degree?
How about the restaurant you always dreamed of opening?
What happened to those goals that you’d been aligning your life to?
Goals change all the time – I used to want to be a racecar driver when I was six – but they certainly shouldn’t change just because you’re in a relationship.
If you’ve pushed your goals aside or completely abandoned them because they don’t align with what your partner wants to do, it’s time to think again about what you really want.
Because your life goals really define your journey, and if you’re no longer headed toward them, you might have to stop and ask yourself just whose journey you’re on now.
7) You’re the one who is always compromising
When it was time for me to go to college, I moved halfway across the country just because my girlfriend at the time was living far away.
I chose the same school and even ended up in a similar program (she was a year older and already established). She already had a circle of friends, and that’s who we normally spent time with.
It was only after she’d graduated and I was still in school that I realized just how much I’d compromised for the relationship.
And basically, she hadn’t compromised anything.
Sure, they were all my choices, but I had to wonder why I’d always chosen what she wanted and built my life around her.
8) You don’t feel like you
The biggest sign that you’re losing your identity in a relationship is that you no longer recognize yourself anymore.
Your choices, your behavior, your friends, your activities – they don’t represent the person you truly are.
And this is a big problem because when you start living a life that denies your true self, you can never truly be happy.
These eight warning signs can be pretty serious. And if you feel like you’re really losing your identity in your relationship, it’s time to make some serious, difficult changes.