‘’I lost myself. I don’t know the person I am anymore. What happened to me?’’
Those are statements many people find themselves saying after some time in a relationship.
If you start dating, do you stop being yourself and instead change to match the needs of your partner regardless of whether they serve yours or not? Is self-sacrifice the right thing to do to keep a relationship stable? No, I believe it’s not.
Your partner fell for you because of the person you were. Not the one they think you can become. Yes, there are some things about us that we need to change or work on. That is called self-growth or improvement.
Self-improvement doesn’t mean changing yourself to benefit others at the cost of what you want. Neither does it mean to change yourself to serve your needs at the cost of others.
Self-improvement means doing inner work to change your life for both your benefit and the people around you.
Most of the time we get into relationships and gradually lose focus on ourselves then end up becoming someone else we do not know. We try to become what our partners want even when it bites us.
So how do you keep the focus on yourself when in a relationship? I will give you eight ways to focus on yourself in a relationship but first, here are the reasons why you should.
Why you should focus on yourself in a relationship
A relationship has two people. You and your partner. Two different people. If your partner wanted someone like him or her, they should have dated themselves instead. You are two people coming together to craft something that serves both of you, not one person. That means embracing each other’s desires, goals, character, hobbies, etc.
However, cut the line between hurting your partner in the name of focusing on yourself and neglecting your important attributes in the name of impressing your partner.
The truth is you are not certain if your relationship will last forever. I understand you are too deep in love to even think about yourself. 50% of all marriages end in divorce.
If you are neglecting yourself, your career, goals, hobbies, and other important aspects of your life because of a relationship, who will you become when you, unfortunately, divorce or break up? Chances are you will be lost
There are definitely things that we need to change about ourselves when in a relationship. You can’t be abusive to your partner or drink uncontrollably and then claim that that is who you are and can’t change.
But again if your partner wants to change everything about you then you are definitely being rendered unworthy. That doesn’t seem like the right person you should lose yourself for.
Fulfillment comes from within. It is the alignment of the heart with the body and mind. If what you are doing leaves questions in any of the three, then you are most likely to end in regret. If you have to give up a career you love so much because of your relationship, better be sure you will be proud of your decision 10 years later.
Your partner will fall in love more with the innately self-improved version of you. If you dig deep and find those lacking aspects of yourself, you will be able to improve them and become a better person.
Everyone loves a better person. Imagine becoming more beautiful, more intelligent, richer, and more confident by day. Wouldn’t your partner be so proud of you? You will have more to offer in the relationship.
Eight ways to focus on yourself in a relationship.
Work out and eat healthy meals to keep healthy, fit, and in shape. We often seek approval for how we look from our partners. Approval should come from you. Are you comfortable with your weight and health?
Often times when we get into relationships we neglect our bodies because we think since we are off the shelf, there is no reason to care about looking good. We should not look good because we want a mate. We should look good because we have to.
In fact, chances are your partner will stop finding you attractive because you stopped looking like the person they got attracted to. Looking good and being healthy makes you more valuable to yourself, happy and confident. You will be free from insecurities that come with self-neglect.
2. Keep hold of your goals.
Seasons come and go. Summer comes and then winter falls. We fall in love and fall out of love. You should never give up on your goals for a relationship. You do not know if it will be worth it. Do not be hoodwinked by movies of high school graduates refusing to go to college because of the girl on the next block.
Your relationship should be a complement to your life, not the reverse. Pursue your career, go to college, or start your business. When the relationship ends you will not be stuck wondering where to start from, you will have something to fall back on.
3. Have some time alone.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Give yourself and your partner time to know what it is like to be without each other. Spending time alone does not only strengthen your relationship but also makes you able to contemplate your life.
You have a relationship with yourself and need to get time to go within and have some inner conversation. Spending time alone helps you organize your heart and mind. With this, you can keep track of who you are, your goals, your progress, successes, and failures.
Spending time alone also helps you build a relationship with yourself to become less dependent on your partner and also develop self reliance.
4. Keep in touch with your friends.
It is shooting yourself in the foot cutting off your family and friends for a relationship. We need a life outside our marriages and relationships. A toxic partner will want you to cut your social circles off so that they can have full control over you or even impose their abusive behavior without anyone intervening.
If you have friends and family, you will be less demanding in a relationship, which makes it healthy. You will also feel loved and connected to the world. However, it is important to evaluate the kind of friends you associate with. Some are indeed worth cutting off.
If you find yourself in a place with no friends, learn how to make friends.
5. Have a hobby.
A hobby is something you do to relax or have fun during leisure time. The role of a hobby is not only for fun but also to eliminate any underlying stress and negative energy. Sometimes our relationships hit a slump, have fights and disagreements.
These cause stress, worries, and negative thinking. With a hobby, you can be able to rid your mind of stress and worries to be able to find the best solution to your challenges.
If you have a hobby, do not neglect it. If you do not have one, you can find it. Try swimming, playing the guitar or piano, photography, etc.
6. Communicate your needs.
Your partner is not a mind reader. He or she can only guess what you want or not. Respectfully and clearly communicate your expectations, needs, and complaints. If he/she crosses your boundaries, talk to them about it.
Do not become a pushover. If you keep quiet, your boundaries will soon all be crossed and it will be easy for your partner to turn you into someone else if they want to.
7. Let your self-improvement or personal growth come from within.
As we mature, we realize attributes, characters, and behaviors about ourselves that need to be changed or improved. It is a healthy thing to do. At 30, you should not be acting like a teenager. However, that should come from within.
People can only advise you but should never tell you what to do. A lot of advice people give comes from their personal stories and experiences whose truth we hardly know of. Your partner may use a lot of tricks, manipulation, and lies to change you but if deep down you do not want it, do not do it.
Let your mind and heart all agree on the changes you need to make in your life.
9. Maintain a routine self-evaluation.
Yes, you are in a relationship and you may be now identifying with it more than you do with yourself. As you focus on building and improving your relationship, do not neglect the progress of yourself as an individual.
Often times reflect about yourself separate from the relationship you are in. This will enable you to keep track of your needs, goals, and dreams. Self-reflecting helps you to shape the best version of yourself for a healthy relationship with yourself and your partner.
In conclusion. The only person you went with into the relationship is you and is also probably the only person you will leave with. Do not neglect that person. Insecurities, fear, jealousy, toxicity, and codependency start to show up in us when we lose track of who we are. It is not selfishness or self-centeredness to focus on yourself in the right way. It is for your happiness and that of your partner.