“Never lose yourself in a relationship. Love your spouse dearly, but always follow your unique dreams and desires. Be true to yourself. "~ Unknown
All my previous relationships have emptied me.
Not only because I was with the wrong men and kept trying to make things work where there was no way, but also because I was a queen of justification, encouragement and compromise.
I stayed with men because I wanted to like myself and avoid rejection.
I justified their poor behavior because I wanted to be in a relationship and not be alone.
I compromised on my romantic values and ideals just so I would have someone alive.
On the surface I was an independent, strong, strong woman full of energy and opinions.
When it comes to relationships, I would lose my power and myself completely within them.
I would become a soft mouse with no voice or opinions. I would put my friend's needs first and ignore them. I was silent about how I felt. I would not doubt things.
It took me a few love attempts and ten years of random dating to get to know my unhealthy patterns.
First, I subconsciously copied the behavior of my mother, who had to survive with my despotic father in a very tumultuous relationship. I did not know better until I learned the hard way.
Second, I did not feel worthy of love. I did not feel I was good enough for anyone. I was afraid to be myself, because I did not feel I had much to offer.
Third, I was not happy with myself and my life and believed that a relationship would change that, so my desire to be in one was pretty strong.
These patterns made me feel and act like I was desperate for love. So, once I made a friend of myself, I would do anything to please him and keep him in my life.
I will be a cheerful giver. I would take all the responsibility for the relationship. I would make my men’s lives easier by doing things for them and sometimes against myself. I was suited to their busy schedules, moods and themes. I would help them improve their self-esteem and lifestyle so that they would feel happier inside. I was completely gone in my relationships.
Everything in my relationships was about men. They have become my main focus and the most important thing in my life.
I would abandon myself. I would give up my friends, my passions and my dreams. I would lose my identity in the name of love. My main priority was to keep them happy so I could keep the relationship going.
But even all the crazy giving and matching would not continue to exist dysfunctional relationships. Therefore, when it comes to an end, I will have nothing left to give.
Every split left me feeling empty. It almost felt like a small part of me died after every relationship.
I no longer knew who I was because I was so focused on the relationship that I would completely neglect myself.
It did not feel healthy at all.
As I began to become more aware of my patterns and how harmful they were to me and my love life, I made some promises to myself.
1. The relationship with myself in the first place
2. A man will never be more important to me than I am to myself
3. I will always love myself more than any man in my life
Although they may sound a little harsh, these rules have served me and my relationship in an amazing way so far.
The truth is that your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life. Also, this is the foundation of any other relationship, so it makes sense to prioritize and nurture them.
If you love someone else more than yourself, you will always compromise too much, ignore the red flags, get hurt and lose yourself in your relationships.
You cannot love in a healthy way unless you first love yourself. Also, loving yourself will help you set stronger boundaries in relationships, protect yourself and find the courage to stay away from any relationship that does not serve you.
Alongside these promises, I also made a decision that I wanted to create something different in my love life. I wanted to create a healthy and happy relationship, unlike the one my parents had and the ones I had in the past.
For that I had to be someone else. Not really another person, but becoming more courageous and authentic in my relationships. Otherwise, what's the point?
I had to start speaking my mind, expressing my feelings and asking for what I wanted. I just needed to be more vulnerable in my relationships.
First, I took a break from dating and focused on being happier and stronger.
Second, when I found the right person, I had some new rules to support myself in staying strong in my relationship. I did not want to lose myself in a relationship again. Because, frankly, losing yourself is much more painful than losing a relationship. And it will take you forever to find your strength, your honor and your truth again.
Here are some things I did differently, before and after entering into a new relationship, that you can also do to make sure you do not lose yourself.
Establish a strong foundation while you are single.
We lose ourselves in relationships because we do not feel worthy of love and our boundaries are weak. When you love yourself, you know how you want to feel and be in your next relationship. You also set healthy boundaries, which prevents you from losing your identity in a relationship.
How do you begin to love yourself? Here are three tips you can apply right away.
Start each day with the question: What do I need today? How can I love myself today? Follow the answers, as they will help you to be more loving and self-respecting.
2. Act from a loving and compassionate place within you. Choose people, situations and things in your life that serve you and do not hurt you. Respect your needs and feelings. Be nice to yourself. Stop judging yourself. Set some strong boundaries to protect your time and energy. Make your own cheer. Listen to your intuition.
3. Change your priorities. You are first, everything else comes after me. Choose for yourself. Prefer your own well-being. Put yourself first when you can. Make yourself think in your life. People stopped wanting. You are important!
As you begin to walk the path of self-love you will begin to appear differently in your life and in your relationships.
Know who you are.
Know your needs. Know your desires. Know your dreams. Know your values. Know your priorities. Know yourself basically. This knowledge will prevent you from compromising too much in a relationship. Your strong sense of self will help you cling to what really matters to you. This will give you a sense of security, which comes from within and not from your relationship.
I have two small exercises to help you get to know and understand yourself and your needs better.
Make a list of your current needs. Grab a piece of paper and create four columns. Title on each column: Emotional, Mental, Physical and Spiritual. Take the time and check out what you need in these four categories to feel fulfilled.
Write down your top five to ten priorities. These are the important things for you that you will want to focus on right now. Write them down in order of importance.
These exercises will give you a stronger direction in life and help you explore what really matters to you. It makes sense to visit them occasionally, as things are likely to change over time. Your needs will be several months different from the line. Your priorities will be different, as we are always growing and evolving. The goal is not to define yourself in rigid terms, but to understand what you need and want at this stage of your life.
Have strong boundaries.
Know the negotiations that are not negotiable in relationships. Things you will not tolerate. Things you do not want to compromise on. Things you do not want in your relationship. And communicate them so that your partner knows and respects your boundaries.
Healthy boundaries will make you feel stronger and more empowered in your next relationship. If you do not respect your boundaries, you will feel exhausted, overwhelmed and drained. Healthy boundaries prevent you from losing yourself in love.
You have friends of your own.
It is very easy to fall in love with a new relationship, fall in love and forget about the whole world outside. As much as it is a natural part of any new relationship, do not forget about your friends. Make a regular appointment with them. They have been your rock and soundboard many times, and can be even now. Do not limit your life to just your new partner. You need a different look.
Have a life of your own.
Just because you are in a relationship does not mean you have to give up the things you love to do - even if you feel tempted, especially at first when things are exciting, and you want to spend as much time with the person as possible. It is important to maintain your normal routine as much as you can.
Take time for the things you love to do. Set them your priority because they contribute to your happiness, so they are just as important as your relationship. Keep in mind some hobbies you do alone or with people who are not your partner. Schedule time each week when you do things individually. Set solo dates. Cultivated spiritual practice. Stick to your training routine.
Doing things alone will help you stay connected to yourself and cultivate a sense of self. It will also keep your relationship fresh. No relationship can fulfill all your needs and desires. This is why you need different things in your life, other than your relationship, to keep growing and expanding in new directions. Also, the time you spend alone will help you cultivate the relationship with yourself and maintain your independence.
Stay true to yourself.
Do not suddenly change who you are for someone else. For example, do not suddenly pretend to be a football fan just because your friend loves football or do not force yourself to shop with your girlfriend just to please her. Be honest with yourself and communicate what you like and what not with your spouse.
Also, make some independent decisions. You do not need to consult your spouse regarding any decision. Express your views. Share your thoughts. Say what you think. Tell them how you feel. All of these will help your partner understand you better.
Talk about how you feel. Talk about what does not work for you. Talk about what you like and dislike. Even tell your new partner that you're afraid of losing yourself in a relationship again. I did so and my partner supported me in trying to maintain my identity. Honest and open communication will only bring you closer. You can improve a relationship only when you know what is not working. So, talk openly!
Stop giving and matching.
Excessive giving usually results from not seeing your value and seeking approval. We believe that the more we give, the more we will return to love from our spouse. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. In the long run, this is a safe way to increase resentment and feel taken for granted. And resentment is one of the factors that determines the happiness and longevity of a relationship. Therefore, when you give too much, you not only risk losing yourself in the relationship but also losing the relationship.
Think again about your relationships. How you felt, how you compromised, how you betrayed yourself. Our previous relationships can provide us with a tremendous amount of knowledge about ourselves. So, look at the mistakes you have made in the past and learn from them.
Decide what you do not want to go back on and what you want to do differently in your next relationship. Commit to staying strong and true to yourself. Set the rules you are going to follow after you meet someone - you can use the tools I created for myself or create your own!
Healthy relationships are formed by two strong and whole people who can exist without each other.
Healthy relationships are free from shared dependence.
Healthy relationships start from a healthy relationship with yourself. The stronger your relationship with yourself, the less likely you are to lose your sense of self in your next relationship.
You can build strong foundations now by getting to know yourself, exploring life for yourself and setting habits that make you happy.
When you feel strong within yourself and when you meet the right person, you will remain grounded throughout the first stage of dating and better judgment.
Maintain a strong identity, make better romantic choices and avoid heartache.
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