“When I’m single, I’m living my best life. But then I meet someone… and I end up losing myself in my relationship.”
Yep. Us humans are real good at prioritising ourselves when it’s just us. But then a lover comes along and steals the spotlight.
I say ‘steal’, but in reality it’s an attention we freely give:
We’re happy to give them our all. To pour love and attention into them and the relationship.
But as time passes, you look around and realise – you’ve completely lost yourself in a relationship.
It was my default relationship pattern for years. I’d rock ‘me’ for a while, then quickly lose myself in whatever relationship I was head-over-heels in.
Which was worrying, considering I was a serial monogamist in back-to-back relationships from the age of 16.
So when I finally paused and reflected over 8 years later, it wasn’t just a few months or years that I’d been losing myself, it was almost an entire DECADE.
(You can read all about the complete emotional breakdown that caused me. We’re talking full-on personal meltdown.)
Thankfully, I did the inner work to not only find myself again – but to stay connected to myself as well. (My soul and my marriage now thank me for it).
So in this blog, I’m sharing the do’s and don’ts of how to find yourself again in a relationship.
You’re going to learn:
- Why you lose yourself in a relationship in the first place (hint: it’s not really your fault)
- When ending a relationship to find yourself again CAN be a good idea
- 11 proven steps for finding yourself again in your relationship (lots of these work if you’re recently single too)
What Does It Mean To Lose Yourself In A Relationship?
Losing yourself in a relationship means that your attention is so focused on the relationship that you don’t know who you are anymore. You’ve lost your sense of self – your identity – separate from your partner, and your life doesn’t feel completely your own anymore.
In practical terms, it can look like:
- Your passion project sitting half finished at the back of the cupboard.
- You haven’t seen your best friends in months.
- You no longer prioritise your career, hobbies, or interests like you used to.
- You’ve kinda lost your unique sparkle. That special YOU-ness that makes you… You.
And it doesn’t feel good.
Is It Normal To Lose Yourself In A Relationship?
Within a relationship there’s an innate desire to feel loved and accepted, so we often give up parts of ourselves in order to achieve that acceptance, or to maintain harmony. Unless you’re conscious of maintaining a seperate sense of self, this tendency will cause you to lose yourself.
As psychologist and author of ‘Passionate Marriage’ David Schnarch, Phd., explains, “The problem is… that we [become] emotional Siamese twins, “fused at the hip” through our dependence on our partner’s validation.”
But this ‘losing yourself’ is far from a personal failing. It’s part of the innate mechanics of relationships which are designed to help us grow as individuals.
“Many “relationship problems” are really the unrecognized natural growth processes of emotionally committed relationships,” says Dr. Schnarch.
In other words, losing yourself in a relationship is almost an inevitable process. And, it can be the beginning of the most empowering personal development journey you’re likely to ever go on.
Can You Be In A Relationship And Still Find Yourself?
With the right approach, it’s not necessary to end a relationship in order to find yourself again. Rediscovering yourself while still in a relationship will help you develop a more secure sense of self, which means you’re less likely to lose yourself again in the future.
The only time you’ll need to end your relationship is if you’re in an abusive or controlling relationship. In those kinds of relationships, it’s difficult to change the status quo and be safe. Seek professional help from a psychologist or Google “abusive relationship resources near me” to get support.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, get out of that relationship ASAP. Then start the journey of finding yourself again.
What Do You Do When You Lose Yourself In A Relationship
The starting points are obvious:
- You make time for yourself, your passions, and your interests.
- You spend time with friends and family.
- You do the inner work to learn who you are, what you believe in, and what you want out of life.
But for me, that was only scratching the surface of how to find myself again. The real question I had to face was:
How do I maintain this independent sense of self while also feeling close and connected to my partner?
I still had my own thoughts, my own opinions, my own emotions, my own interests. But I couldn’t hear them over the noise of my partner.
What do I mean by ‘noise’?
All of the assumptions and mind chatter about what they wanted, what made them happy, and what worked for them.
So it’s not that I was truly lost – I just couldn’t hear myself clearly.
What I really had to figure out was how to differentiate:
- How to have clear boundaries, prioritsing my relationship with myself, while also maintaining a relationship with my partner.
- How to lovingly take a stand for myself, while still respecting the differences of my partner.
- And how the two of us integrated together, as separate, unique individuals in an inter-dependant relationship.
As couple’s therapist Dr. Patricia Frisch explains,
“When we are differentiated, we can follow our own directives even if pressured by friends and family to reorient. We trust ourselves to be our best guide although we are open and can readily take in input non-defensively. Most importantly, we never lose ourselves to another but maintain our personal integrity.
With this in mind, here are 11 practical steps I took to do the deeper work of finding myself again (and staying found).
Lost Yourself In A Relationship? How To Find Yourself Again
1. Get Clear On The Symptoms
Why exactly do you feel like you’re losing yourself?
Are you feeling lonely outside of your relationship? Is there something about your relationship you’re not happy with? Are you bored or uninspired in your career?
The more clarity you have on where you are right now, the clearer you’ll be on where you need to go to find yourself again.
2. Dream About The Future
Losing your identity in a relationship often includes losing sight of what you truly want from life.
You might have ideas about what you want for your relationship – but what about the things you want purely for yourself?
Allowing your mind to wander 5, 10, 20 years into the future can reveal important clues about what your soul is craving.
Get a clearer picture about what you want from your future so you can start prioritising the steps to get you there.
3. Examine Your Resentments
Resentment is a strong indicator that you feel trapped by your partner. But your resentments also hold the key to your liberation.
In my last relationship, I had this story that my partner “wouldn’t let me” wear dresses or make-up. And I felt a tonne of resentment about that.
But after much personal reflection, I realised that even though he didn’t like make-up or dresses, he wasn’t actually stopping me. I was stopping MYSELF because I feared his disapproval.
Your resentments are part of a fact-finding mission that points towards the changes required:
Find all of the places you hold yourself back for fear of judgement, rejection, or criticism. Get courageous and commit to the change. (Check out our complete guide to healing resentment in a relationship if you need a helping hand.)
4. Commit To A Regular Date Night
Yep, you read that right – set aside intentional time to build emotional connection in your relationship. This is important for two reasons:
- It helps to reassure your partner that you’re not leaving them behind, and that they’re still important to you.
- And, it gives you the opportunity to practice being yourself while being with your partner (which is the test of this whole ‘finding yourself again’ journey, right?).
5. Prioritize Dating Yourself
It might be a workshop for that new (or old) hobby. It might be a film you’ve been wanting to see but your partner doesn’t. It might be a fancy dinner alone or a hike in the mountains.
The what isn’t as important as the who. (Hint: YOU are the who 😉 )
Dating yourself means making the powerful decision to prioritize reconnecting with yourself. Whatever that looks like for you.
Because ultimately, the goal is to….
6. Challenge & Grow Yourself
If you feel like you’ve lost yourself in your relationship, chances are there’s a big, audacious, possibly terrifying dream hiding somewhere in your heart.
Step up and go do it.
Find the thing that you’ve been putting off and make it a priority. No excuses.
#protip: Much of the hesitation comes from the fear of “But what will my partner think?”. That’s kinda the point, and it’s the exact fear you’re being challenged to overcome.
7. Hang Out With Your People
OK, not exactly groundbreaking advice here.
So just consider this an important reminder that social connections outside of your relationship are nourishing. And they help strengthen your independent sense of self.
Unless this is your first time here on our blog (if so, welcome! 👋), you know we don’t shy away from the sexy stuff.
Making love to yourself is an incredible way to deepen your relationship to your body, your desires, and your self expression. It builds confidence, increases mood-boosting hormones, and helps you enjoy sex more.
But not all masturbation is created equal:
Take the time to slow down, get to know your body, enjoy yourself, and re-discover yourself as a sexual being separate from your partner.
(#protip: It’ll make your shared sex life better too!)
9. Disagree With Your Partner
This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges to finding freedom in a relationship. But it also has the biggest pay-off.
Disagreeing with your partner doesn’t mean being a jerk, being unnecessarily combative, or intentionally starting arguments.
Instead, getting better at healthy disagreement helps you to:
- Stop people-pleasing and learn how to differentiate.
- Break the cycle of walking on eggshells and trying to manage your partner’s feelings.
- Develop the courage to respectfully stand up for your opinions when they’re different from your partner’s.
The more practiced you get at disagreeing, the less likely you are to emotionally fuse and lose yourself again.
(And if you could use a little help brushing up on your communication skills, check out our complete communication course for couples below.)
Conflict To Connection
The Couple’s Step-By-Step Guide To Having Difficult Conversations That Resolves Arguments & Brings You Closer Together
10. Be Decisive
How familiar does this sound…
“What do you want for dinner?”
“I don’t know… What do you want?”
Urgh. This is an example of emotional fusion at its most frustrating. Instead of ping-ponging this decision back to your partner, take a moment to work out what-the-heck you actually do want.
Don’t worry about what’s ‘right’. And don’t worry about whether your partner wants that or not. Practice being decisive and taking a stand for something – anything – and start making choices for yourself.
Not only does this help you differentiate, your partner is likely to appreciate not having to come up with the answers all the time.
11. Have The Conversation
You might be getting the impression that there’s some big life and relationship changes needed.
In order to differentiate effectively, it’s important your partner hears about the changes you have planned.
Let them know that you feel like you’re losing yourself in your relationship and that you want to work on finding yourself again.
Maybe they won’t get it at first. Maybe they’ll feel upset or confused. Maybe they’ll feel like they’re being blamed. But if the relationship is worth having, that’s something you’ll work through together.
Because the best relationships are ultimately the ones where you help each other become your best selves. And over the lifespan of a relationship, that requires change and growth.
Because no matter how lost you feel right now, it is possible to find yourself again, AND have a deeply fulfilling relationship. They’re not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to choose one or the other.
How To Find Yourself Again In A Relationship
Depending on how lost or stuck you feel, the steps outlined here might be enough to begin the journey of finding yourself again. But for others, it might require a more intensive approach.
If you’d like to explore how 1:1 coaching can help you stop losing yourself and start finding yourself again, book in for a free, no-obligation coaching call.
We’ll help you to differentiate effectively and implement a strategy that’s right for you and your relationship.
Schedule your complimentary coaching call now.
Sources & References
Snarch, D. (2007, September 28) quoted from An Interview with Dr David Schnarch – The Sex Therapist, SheKnows. https://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1423/an-interview-with-dr-david-schnarch-the-sex-therapist/
Frisch, P. (2016, September 28) Couple Therapy Part 2: Fusion or Differentiation. The Orgonomic Institute of Northern California. https://orgonomictherapy.com/2016/09/28/couple-therapy-part-2-fusion-or-differentiation/
Hi, I’m Jodie - a life, love, and sexual empowerment coach. I work with women and couples to help them create the lives, love, and sex they’ve always wanted. More love, more passion, more pleasure, and more fulfilment.
Apply for a complimentary 1:1 coaching session here.