What was your last relationship like? Did you do everything together? Did his or her friends become your friends? Their hobbies your hobbies? Their dreams your dreams?
After you broke up, drifted apart, or got divorced, did you look around and wonder what happened to your life or the person you used to be before you met this person?
If yes, then chances are that while you were in that relationship, you neglected your friendships. You didn’t stay in touch or spend time with them as much as you used to.
You gave up your hobbies and interests. You stopped doing the things you used to do that spoke to your soul. You told yourself there wasn’t time, or that your partner wasn’t into it, and you didn’t want to do things without him or her.
You put your dreams and goals on hold because you had little mental energy for them outside of your passion for this person.
Maybe you also let yourself go, gained weight, started drinking and smoking again, stopped working out, or stopped caring about your appearance in general. You were so wrapped up in each other that you didn’t stop to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing even healthy for me?”
It makes you sad to think that you gave up so much of yourself for that relationship. You worry because you’re not sure it wouldn’t happen again the next time you fall head over heels in love, because you may not know why this happens, let alone how to stop it from happening.
If you can relate to any of this, keep reading, because in this article I’m going to explain why you lose yourself in romantic relationships, and what you can do to maintain your true self, always.
Let’s say that you’re with a romantic partner and they make you feel so good. They validate you, they adore you, they make you feel loved and important.
You can’t help but want to be with them all the time. When you’re with them, you feel whole and safe. It’s so seductive.
That’s why you neglect your friends and you forget your interests and passions…because doing things alone or without your partner doesn’t feel as good as being with him or her.
Your partner becomes the source of all your good feelings and self-worth.
When his or her needs are met, they’re happy. And when they’re happy, you’re happy.
Therefore, you do all you can to meet his or her needs, while short-changing yours.
This is precisely how you begin to lose yourself—because your partner’s needs trump your needs.
It’s costing you something to be in this type of relationship. It’s costing you the ability to tolerate your aloneness, because now you are reliant on this person to feel good about yourself.
When they’re not around, you can feel really down, and you may attribute it to missing them.
But really what’s happening is that you are relinquishing responsibility for your own sense of worth, aliveness, and wellbeing, then becoming dependent on this other person to do it for you.
You lose yourself because you want to feel loved, because you don’t know how to be loving to yourself.
This is the definition of codependency.
You’re looking to your partner to make you feel good, and you’re unable or unwilling to do what it takes to make yourself feel good.
But why does this happen in the first place?
Many people are codependent, lose themselves or let themselves go when they’re in love.
That’s because so many of us grew up with parents who modeled this dynamic, where their parents were reliant on the other for their feelings of self-worth and safety. We watched as our mother or father neglected his or her own needs for the needs of the other, or demanded that the other give themselves up, and we assumed this was normal and loving.
Neglecting your needs is not loving at all—to yourself or the other person.
Codependence also occurs when our feelings and needs aren’t validated as children. That doesn’t mean that parents have to indulge every child’s whim. Not at all. But if we’re told that we shouldn’t feel the way we feel, or that we’re “bad” for having certain needs or behaviors, that is what compels us to grow up believing that we should give up our needs and feelings for the sake of others’ happiness, with the hope that the other will then meet our needs.
And so, as adults, we act out according to the beliefs that we formed in childhood, based on how we were treated and what we observed from our parents and caregivers.
These false beliefs are:
That’s why the first step to diminishing codependence is taking a close look at the subconscious, false beliefs that are running your life.
You must be willing to uncover these beliefs, test them, and prove them false.
Otherwise, you won’t help but repeat these types of codependent relationships again in the future.
You will meet someone whom you think “makes” you feel loved and worthy, and you will once again lose yourself in the relationship because you don’t know how to feel loved and worthy from the inside.
The subconscious mechanisms behind these tendencies are very strong. You can’t talk yourself out of it. You can’t shame yourself out of it.
You’re not going to be able to find someone to “save” you from this, either, just because they love you so much that you can finally love yourself, as well.
The best way to stay true to yourself and free yourself from codependency is learning how to take responsibility for your own feelings, and that is a natural outcome of learning to take loving care of yourself, not just others.
Frequently, taking loving care of yourself means being willing to risk losing a relationship.
It boils down to this: are you willing to continue losing yourself in a relationship in order to feel safe and lovable, or are you willing to risk losing someone or something to gain your true self—your freedom, your soul’s mission, your dignity, self-respect, integrity, personal power, passion, and your connection to God/the Divine/Higher Self?
Are you willing to lose your sense of self to avoid pain, or are you willing to face pain in order to have your true Self and evolve your soul?
There is no right answer to these questions.
Meaning, you are not bad or wrong if you are unwilling to face the pain of loss, heartbreak, and loneliness that may occur if you take loving action on your own behalf.
However, if you are ready to do what it takes to lead yourself out of emotional dependency, codependency, and into emotional freedom, real intimacy, and joy, then I can show you how.
You must also develop your spiritual connection to the point of knowing and loving the beauty of your own essence. It means that you know that loving yourself is self-responsible rather than selfish.
It means that you give up defining your worth through fixing others and getting others’ attention, love, or approval, and instead define your worth by your ability to love.
It means that you let go of responsibility for others’ feelings and learn to take care of your own.
You can do all of this through a process I co-developed many years ago called Inner Bonding.
Inner Bonding is a 6-step process that helps individuals heal from codependency, addictions, difficult relationships, self-loathing, low self-esteem, recurring painful emotions, and more.
Teaching this process of Inner Bonding has been the highlight of my 50 year (yes, 50!) career showing clients how to take action with regard to self love by listening to their inner guidance and taking responsibility for their feelings.
Now I’ve partnered with Flourish, so I can extend that help and guidance to as many people as possible, since almost everyone can benefit from learning about how to take action on self love and heal the pain of codependence and losing yourself in relationships.
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When you have been practicing giving yourself up your whole life, it is very challenging to shift into taking loving care of yourself. But when you learn how to connect to your core self, and how to recognize when your needs and feelings are being neglected, you’ll make a lot of progress.
It just takes acknowledgement—that you’ve been losing yourself—and a willingness to be more loving to yourself from this day forth.