Afraid of Losing Yourself?
“Hi Orna and Matthew,
I’ve been delving into so much of what you two share and I’m realizing so much about myself. The truth is I’m still afraid of losing myself in a relationship. How do I ensure that I won’t go back to that behavior again?”
You’ve already taken the first step, which is to recognize this pattern of losing yourself in a relationship. How you show up in your relationships isn’t going to magically change one day, it’s a process. The good news is that identifying your negative patterns puts you in the driver’s seat to make the changes you desire.
Digging deeper into the reasons you are afraid of losing yourself will allow you to adjust so you can stand in your power and not abandon yourself when you’re in an intimate relationship.
Losing yourself in a relationship can show up in several ways, and all of them are a form of self-abandonment. If you can’t identify who you are outside of the relationship, or you lose track of your friends and give up your regular routine, you’re losing yourself in a relationship.
In a healthy relationship, one whole and complete person comes together with another whole and complete person, and together they form a new entity – the relationship.
If two people merge and you’ve lost your sense of self, you’re in trouble because now you don’t exist outside the relationship, and you do not really exist in the relationship either. This is the definition of a co-dependent relationship whereas a healthy relationship is interdependent. It makes sense that you’re still afraid of repeating this unhealthy pattern.
Here’s how to break the cycle of losing yourself in a relationship:
Figure Out Why You Keep Losing Yourself In A Relationship
You Learned That You Have To Earn Love
You’re afraid of losing yourself because you learned in your family that you had to earn love in some way. This strategy comes from your early childhood and the dynamics within your family of origin. Maybe you had a parent who was sick, depressed, or an addict? Or it was required of you to take care of younger siblings? Whatever the circumstances, you learned that love and acceptance came from taking care of others while you do things to prove you are worthy of love.
This strategy of going above and beyond to earn love leaves you with a feeling of being unworthy of the love you desire. However, love with a beloved life partner is not something that you have to earn or prove you are worthy of. Losing yourself in a relationship comes from a desire to show how valuable you are as a partner. And ultimately, this strategy will never bring you the lasting love you want.
You Believe That You Have To Sacrifice For Love
This limiting belief goes hand in hand with the strategy of having to earn love. You’re afraid of losing yourself in a relationship because you believe you must sacrifice your own needs when it comes to love. You put your partner’s needs above your own, end up sacrificing yourself, and you end up feeling angry and resentful that you’re needs are never fulfilled.
A relationship can never thrive when one partner is always going into sacrifice. You go into sacrifice by stuffing your feelings, not making a fuss, committing to things you don’t have the time and energy for, and letting go of the activities that bring you joy. This type of relationship is out of balance and cannot survive the long term. Eventually, you’ll be sick of sacrificing and end up blaming your partner for not meeting your needs.
You Have A Fear Of Conflict
Your fear of conflict will cause you to twist yourself into a pretzel to avoid clashing with your partner. You’ll end up swallowing your point of view because you don’t want to upset them. By never speaking up and sharing how you feel, you will eventually explode like a volcano and that eruption is so out of character and so awful that the cycle repeats again and again (either with a new partner or with the same person if they stick around).
Conflicts are a natural part of being a human living with other humans. Being able to work through your differences in a healthy way creates a bond and an emotional intimacy that cements the trust and love between the two of you. Avoiding conflict doesn’t make it go away, it just creates an emotional chasm between the two of you that blocks intimacy and connection.
You Don’t Feel Worthy Of Love
Whether you have low self-esteem, lack confidence, or feel insecure about yourself, you believe that you aren’t worthy of love just as you are. While these feelings are common, expecting your partner to fill the void inside will cause you to lose yourself in a relationship. Your partner is neither the cause of these beliefs nor can they fix them for you.
When you don’t feel worthy of love you will put up with unhealthy relationship dynamics and give up what is important to you. You end up giving in hopes of getting some validation or love back from your partner. This love and validation has to come from inside of you.
You’re Afraid Of Being Alone
Being afraid of losing yourself won’t outweigh your fear of being alone. Feeling lonely is a natural part of the human experience. Humans are social creatures and need regular contact with others. Your fear of being alone becomes a problem when you try to assuage the fear by rushing into a relationship with someone who is not a good match for you.
You will go through periods of loneliness and periods of connection in your life. You can feel the loneliest in a relationship with someone who doesn’t see you. Your fear of loneliness can cause you to jump into a relationship before you’ve evaluated the other person’s capacity to be a good partner for you.
Afraid Of Losing Yourself In A Relationship? Here’s How To Change That Pattern
The Love You Seek Is Inside Of You
The number one cause of being afraid of losing yourself comes from seeking love and validation from someone else. No matter the reason for this strategy you end up feeling empty and exhausted that you’ve given your partner everything, and yet you feel unseen and unfulfilled.
Instead of seeking someone to love and accept you, focus on loving and accepting yourself. Take time to discover what brings you joy and happiness and spend time doing those activities. Become clear on what you would like to receive from a life partner, and also on what you can give to them. Make a list of your best qualities and characteristics (ask close family and friends so you can discover how they see you). Ultimately, it is the love you have for yourself that is reflected back to you through the eyes of your beloved. Once you realize this, you know that love can never be taken from you.
Stop Abandoning Yourself
You abandon yourself when you swallow your feelings or put aside your wants and needs to focus only on fulfilling your partner. You’ve probably been doing it since you were a little child, hoping that someone will see you as you are and love you anyway.
Practice saying “No” to the things you don’t want to do. Refuse to go into sacrifice and know what you’re willing to fight for. If you don’t know what you need, you’re left feeling like a little cork bouncing around on the ocean of your love life.
Express your feelings and don’t worry about how your partner will respond. It’s okay to be upset and to share your upset. When you express your feelings, you are showing up for yourself and breaking the pattern of self-abandonment. Once you stop this pattern you’ll attract someone who is truly interested in you and curious about what you want and need so you can create a life together instead of a one-sided relationship that doesn’t last.
Embrace Your Differences
When you lose yourself in a relationship, you end up ignoring your differences. You may think it’s romantic to appear as “two peas in a pod,” but you are two different people with different thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses.
Embrace your differences. Let them become a source of curiosity between the two of you. You can do things apart from each other and be more available for one another when you come back together. Besides, you are stronger together when each partner can shine in their brilliance.
Ask For What You Want And Need
You will never get what you want and need without asking for it. Soulmates don’t come with mind-reading powers. The right partner for you will want to know and you’ll need to speak up to share about yourself.
Your needs will never be met if you’re simply hoping a partner somehow picks up on your subtle signals. Expecting your partner to intuit or instinctively know is another way of saying to yourself that you don’t count or matter.
Practice making requests and see how the people who care about you respond. Ask for help when you need it, and you’ll discover that you have people in your life who are there to support you, and you get to practice receiving from those you love.
Set Healthy Boundaries
All relationships require boundaries. Love does not mean that you can say or do anything to your partner. Respect comes with a boundary and learning to love another person respectfully is something that may not have been taught or shown to you in your family of origin.
Without boundaries, you are open to manipulation, abuse, and co-dependence. With boundaries, you can take responsibility for your triggers, learn to communicate respectfully, and become a master of your emotions.
Respectful love has a boundary. The boundary creates the conditions for love to grow in a more trusting and nurturing way.
Give From Your Overflow
The habit of losing yourself in a relationship is worsened because you are typically giving from an empty cup. Imagine that your personal energy is liquid in a cup and every time you give to someone, you’re emptying a little of that liquid to help them. If you don’t make sure your cup is full, eventually your cup will run dry. This leads to feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and loneliness.
Fill your cup first before serving anyone else. Discover the activities or practices that fill you up when you are down. Meditate, take yourself on an inner child date, read a good book, or do some other self-care activities. Know what refuels you and regularly take time to do so.
To be of service to anyone in your life, you must fill your own cup — not just to full, but to overflowing — then you can be of service from the overflow. Make sure to fill your own cup, and you’ll always have plenty of energy to give to those you love.
Don’t Rush When It Comes To Love
When you are afraid of losing yourself in a relationship you tend to say “Yes” to every request before thinking if you have the time or energy to accept. You end up feeling overburdened and resentful of the person making the requests.
Remember, by saying “No” to their request you are not saying that you don’t love or value them. What you’re doing is making sure that you aren’t sacrificing yourself to order to earn love.
You can also rush into a relationship before you know if someone is a good match for you. You let your fear of being alone take over and commit to a relationship before you know who someone is.
Slow down the dating process and wait before committing to exclusivity. Make sure to take time for yourself throughout the stages of dating. Practice your refueling activities, and don’t be so convenient. You’ll discover that you can quickly break the habit of losing yourself in a relationship.
If you’re afraid of losing yourself in a relationship and instead want to create long-lasting love with an ideal match download our special report, “7 Steps To Soulmating™.” You’ll receive our top dating strategies that have helped thousands to change their love strategies and finally create their soulmate relationship.
It’s time to stop pining, wanting, and longing for someone to share your life with and start living your life alongside the love of your life.
About the authors
Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.