Tips for Maintaining Your Identity in Relationships

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • When you first begin a relationship, you want to spend all of your time together. When you aren’t together you are thinking about the next time you will be. You want to do everything together. You might ignore your friends or put aside your interests to spend time with your new love. As the relationship continues, you might give up more of yourself, agreeing with your partner on just about everything, even if it is the opposite of your previous beliefs. You might believe that you are meant to love this person, heart and soul, and to do so you must give up who you are to become the person you think he or she wants you to be.

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    The problem with this type of thinking is that even when you become part of a couple, you are still an individual. You still have your own likes and dislikes, your own thoughts, your own feelings. You are a separate and unique individual. It is this person your “soulmate” was first attracted to. It is this person your “soulmate” fell in love with. Once you change or modify who you are to please someone, you cease being that person. This often leads to feelings of resentment because you are no longer you.

     

    In healthy and successful relationships, both partners learn to balance “togetherness” with separateness. They hold on to their own thoughts, beliefs, dreams and interests. They enjoy sharing these with one another but also enjoy time alone and with friends. They pursue their own interests and hold on to their own beliefs. Being a separate person allows you to bring more to the relationship.

     

    When you get swept away with the relationship, it can sometimes be hard to know where to draw the line and how to balance the two parts of yourself – the individual and the part of “we.” The following tips can help.


    Make a list of your hobbies and interests. Plan some time each week to devote to your interests. While there might be times you want to share your interests with your significant other, make sure you have time to pursue your interests by yourself as well. You could also share some of your hobbies and interests but leave one or two that are yours alone.

     

    Keep up your relationships with your friends. If you see your friends on a regular basis, continue to do so. Set aside one night a week that is “friend night.” Make plans to meet for dinner or drinks, see a movie or meet at the gym for yoga class. Whatever it is you did with your friends before the relationship began, continue throughout your relationship. You might want your boyfriend or girlfriend to meet and get to know your friends, but make sure you also have time to spend with them alone.

     

    Show interest in your partner’s hobbies and interests but don’t become so engrossed in them that you give up your own. Balance your relationship by spending some time doing mutual activities and some time focused on your own. Don’t feel you need to participate in activities that you have no desire to do, just because your partner enjoys them. You want to invite your partner into your world without allowing him or her to take it over or diminish it.

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    Make your own decisions about day-to-day activities and purchases. As the relationship progresses and you intertwine finances, there will be times you need to discuss large purchases, however, because both of you are adults, you shouldn’t have to ask permission to make day to day purchases or decisions. You should be able to decide for yourself what you will buy. You should also be free to make plans with your friends, without asking permission to do so. While there might be times you want to discuss plans first to make sure it won’t interfere with together time, it is important to not “ask permission” to go out with friends.

     

    Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. You are bound to have differences of opinion or view situations differently. Don’t ignore your feelings and defer to your partner’s in order to please him or her. In a healthy relationship, both people’s opinions are important and are taken into consideration.

     

    Spend time together. It seems contradictory to include spending time together in a post about maintaining your own identity, but building a strong relationship is important to maintaining your identity. Spending quality time together, talking and sharing your thoughts, ideas and feelings helps you learn about your partner. It helps you learn about his or her dreams, wants and desires (not necessarily sexual but you should talk about sex as well). Making sure you spend time together means you place the relationship as a high priority in your life.

     

    Don’t assume you know what your partner is feeling or talk for your partner. Don't allow your partner to talk for you. Make sure both identities are clear and neither get lost in the “we” of the relationship.

     

    Relationships require compromise however, you should not have to compromise your individuality or give up people and activities that are important to you. You should not be afraid to speak your mind or voice your opinions. If you are afraid of physical or emotional abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

     

Published On: July 08, 2014