How to Avoid Losing Yourself in a Long-Term Partnership
Jan 03, 2020
One of the things I see most in my practice as a Relationship Coach is clients who are in a long-term-relationship and begin to feel like they’ve lost themselves in that union over time.
That is, something like: I fell so madly in love with this person, and our lives began to merge. It felt blissful and natural as it happened. As the months or years when on, we merged friend groups, hobbies and moved in together. All the while I’m slowly losing touch with those people, activities passions that make me, ME. And all of a sudden I wake up one day, miles down the relationship road, wondering “Who the Fuck Am I Anymore?”
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you ever had an experience like this before?
First of all, I want to note that you are not alone in this. You are not silly, stupid or wrong here. This is a common experience for millions of individuals-- because when we fall in love, we are literally high on drugs (chemicals that get released from our body when we feel attraction towards somebody, making us feel really good).
Let’s get scientific for just a moment. When we are newly attracted to somebody, three hormones are released: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The release of these chemicals make us feel giddy, exhilarated and euphoric. According to an article shared from Harvard University, “Attraction involves the brain pathways that control “reward” behavior, which partly explains why the first few weeks or months of a relationship can be so exhilarating and even all-consuming.”
Because of this wave of Euphoric chemicals, it is no wonder why it’s such a common experience to feel obsessed, high and madly in love upon initial attraction towards someone. Often times this is referred to as the Infatuation Stage of a relationship. This is when it can feel amazing, only natural, to spend endless amounts of time with this person and begin to merge your individual lives.
And it feels good to do so, for a while, until months or years down the road. Now these initial attraction chemicals aren’t pumping through your body at the speed of light anymore. This person you’ve fallen in love with doesn’t look so perfect or flawless anymore, right? Shit starts to get REAL-- you see each others blind spots and shadow sides. You frequently encounter conflict or disagreements together. This is the point in relationship where a lot of people wake up and think “Who Am I Anymore?”
So, what do we do about this phenomenon? Is there a way to avoid this experience of losing myself in my relationship? Absolutely there is.
First, I want to be clear that I’m NOT going to tell you to not get sucked into the alluring seduction of infatuation when you first start dating someone. In fact, I’m going to tell you to ENJOY THE HELL OUT OF THAT TIME. Falling in love is fucking beautiful, and it’s a feeling that is like no other experience in the world. Being aware of what is happening to you on a chemical level during this time, does not mean you can’t enjoy it anymore!
Here’s what I think it boils down to:
Two people coming together, looking to the Relationship for a sense of fulfillment and purpose VERSUS
Two individually inspired humans, full of purpose and passion, coming together to create connection and intimacy.
In my experience-- when I am in Relationship, and am passionately curious about my own inspirations OUTSIDE of the Relationship, I do not lose myself. Because while I hold the relationships as an important priority in my life, I also have ideas, obligations and commitments that keep me focused and aligned with my own joy.
I’ve also had the experience of coming into relationship, hoping that this relationship will fulfill me. In those experiences, I more easily shifted into hanging out with his friends, doing more of his activities, and living in his values. This worked for a while (or sometimes until we broke up) because we were dating, living life together, doing things together, and that felt good. However, what was missing for me were activities and passions of my own, born organically from my own soul.
And this is where I hear most people sharing “I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.” As I see it, these beautiful humans have lost touch with their soul, their passions and their values. As a human being it is necessary for us to feel fully self-expressed in order to feel fulfilled and free. Self-expression of our True Self is what LIGHTS US THE FUCK UP.
So next time you’re in a new relationship, I advise you three things. First, enjoy the hell out of the beautiful and passionate experience of falling in love. Second, be aware and notice when you find yourself abandoning your own values or True Self in order to connect. Thirdly, take action and make agreements with yourself so that you stay connected with yourself, your people and your outside passions throughout your long-term partnership.
Thank you for taking your precious time to read. Please keep the conversation going, if you feel called to do so. Drop questions and comments below <3