A topic that’s often brought up when seeking any self help service is taking care of yourself in a relationship. It might seem self explanatory, but codependency or even neglecting self care can become more of a compulsion than a conscious decision. Although usually the extremes come to mind and justify more mild behaviors, it’s vital to understand how we start to lose ourselves in a relationship.
Relationships, much like life, have stages. The beginning stage is commonly referred to as the “pink cloud,” or “honeymoon stage.” Both of these terms describe the early infatuation and excitement that dating brings. While this doesn’t always have to end, the intensity of these feelings begins to dwindle and normalize as time goes on. The beginning phase of dating sets the stage for the remaining duration of the relationship. If you’re normally a concise and direct person but have a hard time speaking up for yourself early on, you’re setting the tone for later encounters in the relationship.
An example is not like pizza. Nobody wants to make a bad impression, but assume you’re asked out on your first date for pizza. Not wanting to risk rejection, you agree to go because you “love pizza.” Later on in the relationship, maybe there’s a growing anxiety about telling your partner you actually didn’t like pizza. Will they think you were dishonest? Will they not want to be with someone who doesn’t like pizza?
Pizza was obvious a lighthearted example, but neglecting to assert oneself often leads to trouble in other areas of a relationship. By not setting clear boundaries about our wants and needs, a relationship can often breed resentment when those wants and needs aren’t met or respected. We’re also setting an unhealthy precedent that we value the wants and needs of our loved one more than our own. Losing yourself in a relationship is much more common than you’d think. It also doesn’t have to be looked at harshly or with judgement.
If you’ve found yourself feeling lost in your relationship, or more involved in your partner’s life than in your own, understanding that the basis of this feeling is from love, and that most unhealthy habits can be changed with effort. Whether you’re dealing with the normal falling off of the honeymoon phase, or you’re struggling with dating someone who is struggling with depression, habits can indeed change. Many times, our anxieties and fears about losing our relationships have little to do with the actual relationship and more to do with events from our pasts. An honest appraisal of your actions and feelings can lead to an insight into what behaviors to change, how to change them, and where you’d like your relationship and your personal ambitions to lead.
Pain is often a building block for success and growth, and a relationship is no different. Everyone begins somewhere, so start your journey into healing and a healthy and lasting relationship.