In most of my past relationships, I have been the one building and sustaining the love, trust, and intimacy. I would give my time, energy, money, and my heart in my relationships because I value making my-love, feel loved and appreciated.
In most cases, this behavior is not viewed negatively. There is nothing wrong with being attentive and caring in your relationship, but not without self-love, which I was lacking.
As a new single woman and mother, I have realized that the time I spent pouring into my past relationships caused me to lose myselfbecause I did not give equal amounts of time to taking care of myself.
“Most of my efforts went to making sure he was happy and fulfilled, and I forgot to prioritize self-love and self-care.”
I lost sight of my needs and desires.
Maintaining the balance between being an individual and being in a relationship does not come easily to everyone, certainly not for my past self.
In order to have a healthy and sustaining relationship, there must be two healthy individuals that are prioritizing themselves and their relationship, equally.
Here are 5 reasons why I and other women lose themselves in their relationship:
1. Lacking “Me Time”
I completely neglected spending time with myself when I had a boyfriend. I didn’t realize how deep the neglect was until after my last breakup. Life was so busy with my 1-year-old, extended family, friends, work, my brand, and our relationships, and I completely excluded myself from my list of to do’s.
“If you are a mom like me,and your child never sees you take-care of yourself, do you think that they will grow up and have healthy self-care and self-love habits?”
We have to show our children what self-love looks like by our example. Spending time alone, helps you discover who you are. Here are some ways that I have incorporated self-love and adequate ME time into my lifestyle:
- Focusing on my passions; journaling, wine tasting, reading, writing poetry, photography, building my brand, etc.
- Taking long baths and detox baths
- Turn my phone on DND for 30 minutes (no disruptions)
- Going on walks
- Deep breathing exercises
- Taking a long drive (the scenic route)
- Listening to music
- Getting a manicure or pedicure
- Getting a facial or massage
- Watching the sunset or sunrise
You are just as important to your relationship as your significant other is.
2. Limited Ladies Nights
Why do we stop spending time with our friends when we get into a relationship?
At the start of every new relationship, I slowly stopped calling and texting my friends. I was always canceling on ladies night or was completely M.I.A. because I was boo-lovin’ with my man. Eventually, some of my friends stopped reaching out to me and some friendships completely ended.
Losing friends helped me understand that maintaining friendships is essential when you are in a relationship.
“When my relationships ended, I wanted to talk to my friends and I couldn’t. I felt guilty that disconnected from them.”
There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend as much time with your significant other, but you have to maintain the balance. You cannot have a friendship without active communication and making the time for your girls.
Make time for friends and make time for your man. Simple.
If you are wondering how you can spend as much time with your man and your friends, here are four tips to help:
- Go on double-dates with one of your friends boyfriend
- Have group dates with friends
- Have monthly ladies-nights
- Host parties and gatherings at your place
It may take some maturity, but learn to prioritize your friendships and relationships so that you can have the best of both worlds.
3. Keeping Quiet
Typically, I have no problem voicing when I am wrong or if I am hurt by something. In my last relationship, our rocky foundation caused a lot of distrust. Somehow, our relationship lasted seven years, but this came with a lot of unhealthy communication.
It got so difficult to talk to him about my concerns that I started to feel like a nag, so I began to suppress my emotions.
Although, I do believe that there are some things that are petty to get into an argument over or even a discussion about, but if something your partner says or does bothers you so much that you begin to resent them, having active communication is essential.
“Keeping quiet about my feelings caused me to lose my individual voice in my relationship.”
When I was hurt or upset, I would quietly hold on to my heartache. By letting things go, or pushing my emotions to the side, consistently, I continued this unhealthy way of holding on to my feelings and it had become my norm.
We both experienced the effects of this unhealthy communication which caused us to distrust one another. I didn’t trust him enough to disclose my feelings and he couldn’t trust that I would talk to him about everything that I was feeling.
I lost sight of what I wanted in a relationship because I was settling for a love that was incompatible.
Speak up about what bothers you! If you have active communication as a couple, then you are more likely to sustain your personal wellness in your relationship.
4. Taking On “Baggage”
I have been in a few relationships with jealous men. At first, it was flattering, but jealousy quickly changed into control.
“Wanting to control someone or change someone is a sign of emotional instability. Often times, this is baggage that they carried from childhood and past relationships.”
Here are some warning signs that you are in a relationship with someone who is emotionally unhealthy:
- they get jealous over simple things (conversations or hugs from other guys, etc.)
- they monitor your phone calls
- they try to diminish your confidence and self-esteem
- they go through your phone and social media pages
- they’re constantly asking you where you are and what you are doing
- they pick fights with you about spending time with other guys or having male friends
- their support is limited
- they don’t like it when you go out
- they call and text you repeatedly while you are out
- they try to change how you dress
If the person you are with does not trust you, tries to control or change you, it may be time to re-evaluate your commitment to them.
5. Too Attached
After the woo-phase or the honeymoon-phase of a relationship ends, it is replaced by what Emma Merkas, Australia’s leading relationships expert, calls the attachment phase, described in an article by Cosmopolitan Australia.
According to Merkas, as described in the article, The Three Stages of Love “The strongest relationships move to the Attachment stage, where couples build comfortable and long-lasting bonds...a more relaxed place to be. Nights on the couch in trackies suddenly look much better than swinging from the chandeliers!”
What the article does not describe is the unhealthy attachment that can also develop in phase two of a relationship. My attachment was unhealthy because I did not prioritize self-care and wellness into my personal life. I got so comfortable with him, that I neglected my body, mind and soul.
Most of my failed relationships were with guys that were introverts. That is not me. I love going out and dancing, group gatherings, trips and traveling, working out together, and spending time exploring the world.
In my last relationship, I built a negative attachment that cost me my identity. He didn’t like going out, spending time with others, and traveling was something he never really expressed interest in.
“All of the activities we did together during the woo-phase, like bike riding, taking walks, and playing catch, were replaced with nights on the couch, binge watching shows on Netflix, with a buffet of food surrounding us.”
At first the boo-lovin was fun, but by not setting a standard of my needs, I allowed him to get comfortable while I settled for a lifestyle I never wanted.
It is not healthy to get so comfortable that you begin to neglect yourself and I did just that by conforming to his likes and not fulfilling my own.
Your identity should change just because you are in a relationship. Of course things change, but don’t neglect your needs, desires, and dreams because you are committed to someone else. You were an individual before you were a couple.