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How do you not lose yourself in a relationship?

(22 Posts)
RedMapleLeaf Mon 02-Jan-17 12:06:15

After my last LTR ended (and the shock and heartbreak lessened) being single was a revelation. I felt that I "came back to myself" and in lots of ways I remembered who I was again - my social style, my daily rhythm etc when left to my own devices.

Nothing lasts forever and I'm now in a new relationship and enjoying all of the new experiences that come with that chapter of life. We're both learning to compromise and share with a new person. Whilst this is exciting and enriching I am very curious about something. How do you not lose yourself in a relationship? Is it even possible?

I'm not looking for advice exactly, just wondering if any of this strikes a chord with you and wondering what your experiences have been.

TheNaze73 Mon 02-Jan-17 12:11:44

Just date would be a start. Don't give up your friends & interests & always want them leaving a bit more.
Let them enhance your life & not be your life

bearsnumberonefan Mon 02-Jan-17 12:12:16

I think whenever you have to make a compromise (which is vital in a relationship) you loose a little bit of yourself. Having to give up what you like, what you want, what you dream (as does the other partner) is giving up a tiny fragment of yourself. It's not always big (could be what type of house you want to live in - old or new, holiday destinations, the car you drive, even your diet) but it chips away.
Unless of course you and your partner have identical taste, never disagree and you have no reason to compromise of course but that is incredibly unlikely

RedMapleLeaf Mon 02-Jan-17 12:26:53

I think you're right TheNaze about enjoying the relationship and letting it unfold at its own pace. We're past the dating phase, but I was certainly guilty at times of wanting to rush things to the next level.

bears I think you have articulated what I suspected. That every little compromise, every step towards sharing your life means you lose a little of yourself. I guess that's not limited to just intimate relationships but also friendships, parenthood(!) and even work relationships.

HandyWoman Mon 02-Jan-17 13:42:42

Interesting question..

When you say you're past the dating phase have you moved in together?

Before I met my chap I was out more, able to be more spontaneous with my free time. Now we are more of an integral part of each other's lives, I see a bit less of friends (although still make time for my friends and counselling has changed my relationship with some friends). I was pondering it yesterday. Does it matter? Is it inevitable? I think it's fine and realistic to acknowledge the compromise and complexity of fully integrating someone into your life. There's a definite 'cost' to that. But do you feel overall the relationship adds to your life? Is it that simple? I dunno. Am pondering it myself...

My bf and I seem to have the same 'rhythm' to our lives, same tolerance for socialising and stress and it feels very easy, integrating him. And so I wonder if I've let too much slip?

Also there's only so much time free when you take into consideration work and kids..

RedMapleLeaf Mon 02-Jan-17 13:47:17

Yep Handy we're living under the same roof. I liked reading your post, lots for me to ponder about.

One thing we've just started doing very recently is looking at the week ahead at the end of the weekend. It has helped in lots of ways, including looking at how time is likely to be spent and are we both happy with the balance.

HandyWoman Mon 02-Jan-17 13:55:30

Looking together at the week ahead sounds great. Do either of you have kids surreptitiously stealing ideas it's totally the approach I will adopt if bf and I eventually move in (which will mean blending families) I won't leave anything to chance. I'll be going through lifework expectations with a fine-tooth comb smile Because having made a poor choice previously (am divorced and exH was a poor choice) I am determined to learn from my mistakes and I know that love is not enough. More is required. Some effort is required. It's qualitively not the same experience as being single.

I think that's OK?

RedMapleLeaf Mon 02-Jan-17 14:03:21

Neither of us has children, that's obviously a huge extra factor in all of this that I can't begin to imagine.

Lots of lifework stuff has come up for us in this first year - different expectations, different work commitments etc that has all needed working through and made things more complicated than just saying it should be 50-50 in my opinion.

"Lifework" I've not heard that before. Does it mean the same as "wifework" if so, I think it's a much preferable term!

FatGreen Mon 02-Jan-17 14:05:44

I'm not recognising this 'losing yourself in a relationship' at all, certainly not so early on - are you very young? Or did you grow up with highly gendered expectations about women withdrawing into domesticity once they're no longer single, or something? (My mother seems to think that women only need friends when they're single in order to facilitate meeting men, and that they 'naturally' lose them one by one as they all marry and stop 'needing to go out' -- but she's heading for eighty and has some very odd ideas about friendship, anyway. hmm)

What exactly did you do when you were single that you are no longer doing now?

HandyWoman Mon 02-Jan-17 14:10:30

Agree it shouldn't necessarily be 50/50, Red

I just invented 'lifework'! It's how I see it now. Not Wifework. I won't ever go back to a life of Wifework. Which is why I will go about planning to live together with the same approach as you i.e. Working through it consciously.

HandyWoman Mon 02-Jan-17 14:35:50

Wondering if part of the 'coming back to yourself' (I had this big style after leaving my exH) after the precious LTR is part of the bounce back effect or liberation of getting out of the effects of a wrong relationship? But at the same time being in a relationship just won't ever feel as free as that, however good. Like, being in a good relationship always 'costs' something in terms of autonomy in how you spend your time. Part of having respect for each other? I guess only you can know your relationship and it's merits or downsides? In some ways I'm a free spirit, my chap is uber non controlling (in contrast to my ex) and I feel comfortable about doing my own stuff. But having enjoyed these years without my exH sucking the joy out of everything I'm pondering what it now means, being in a relationship..

RedMapleLeaf Mon 02-Jan-17 14:39:04

I've found this new relationship really exciting Handy. In my previous LTR we did a lot of growing up together as we got together at uni. So we learned a lot together, and not just small things but stuff like buying houses, building careers, running finances, disagreeing and solving disputes, surviving health scares or redundancies etc etc.

This time around we are both a bit set in our ways of how things are done, so it's fascinating working through stuff like this.

FatGreen no, sorry you're boringly wrong on all of those accounts.

What exactly did you do when you were single that you are no longer doing now?

I think that the main thing is that I would change my mind at the last minute or suit myself a lot more than I do now. Now if we've agreed to go to the cinema on Friday night or a walk on Sunday or whatnot I stick to it.
I also used to have whole days where I'd not get washed and just spend the day looking like the ^Lady in the van^

RedMapleLeaf Mon 02-Jan-17 14:40:25

"Counts" not "accounts"!

HandyWoman Mon 02-Jan-17 14:56:33

My new chap and I laugh about our ways of doing things, The sense that we are interested in that stuff about each other. But living together puts that on a larger more 'life' scale. There will always be differences and tension there. I hope we can retain that sense of respect and 'interest' about those differences if we do ever move in so it works even with those differences. It's a big ask though. And much bigger with dc in tow. Maybe it just comes to 'how do we solve problems together' -perhaps it's as simple and as dull as that?? Haha!

DorindaJ Mon 02-Jan-17 15:06:24

I think the key to not losing yourself is to have time separate. Continue to have time with friends/hobbies separately (not exclusively so).

I have banks of time that I deliberately spend doing my own thing, so that my focus is about me and my life.

What TheNaze said.

GetAHaircutCarl Mon 02-Jan-17 15:14:59

I think it's inevitable that people in relationships change to accommodate one another.

That's not necessarily losing oneself though. Change can be good. In a positive relationship you can be more yourself.

I read here on MN that a good relationship should help you be a better version of yourself and that rang true to me.

But obviously, there has to be balance.

blueshoes Mon 02-Jan-17 15:28:38

A relationship is more than the sum of its parts. It takes on its own character informed by the people in it. If the relationship works, see it as not losing yourself but you gaining a different dimension.

HandyWoman Mon 02-Jan-17 15:36:47

I like that, blueshoes

BackforGood Mon 02-Jan-17 15:46:23

Not sure why you have been so rude to fatgreen - I agree with the thinking that no-one needs to lose themselves in a relationship. Particularly when you are both adults and there are no dc involved (it is easier to be overwhelmed by having dc).
Why do you think a person is 'lost' in a relationship? Can you articulate that for us?

RedMapleLeaf Mon 02-Jan-17 17:27:41

Yep dorinda I think that's a good point. One thing I've found myself doing since the days got short is forcing myself out to socialise with friends on an evening when I'd rather get cosy on the sofa with the boyfriend.

It's not just hobbies and socialising, but making sure I keep an eye on my studies, my work and my fitness too.

Bobochic Mon 02-Jan-17 20:57:51

It is intrinsic to the nature of a functioning relationship that you will be influenced by your partner. If you aren't, it isn't a relationship. Whether or not your partner's influence is positive depends on his character. My DP has some qualities that I value and that have influenced me in a good way, but he also has his own blind spots, and ego, that can create their own issues! Altogether he is a very good influence on me, and me on him.

Tywinlannister Mon 02-Jan-17 21:19:21

I think some people are more prone to this than others tbh. I am very uncompromising in some aspects and unable to deal with situations/people/places I don't like for very long. Hence I was single for a long time!

I have three close friends who do this with every relationship. They become entirely different people. And despite recognising that they do it and vowing not to, they immediately do it again when a new man comes along. I think you have to be very conscious, careful and active in not doing it, if you are prone to it. During the first romantic throes of a new relationship I'm sure it can be very hard.

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