|Us ❤ 4 years ago.|
Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows just how easy it is to lose yourself in it. You become a "we" instead of a "me" over time. It begins with spending nights together and progressing to him being your preferred person to be around. I don't necessarily see this preference as a bad thing. In fact, I'd argue that one should feel that way about the person they are in a relationship with - they should be your confidant, your best friend, your right hand. I can imagine you'd want to spend as much time as possible with them. And although, in my opinion, it's a natural progression, it's hard to hold onto the "me" in all of it. But it is so, so, important. During my relationship, I definitely lost myself a bit in the "we" of it all, and eventually, with the help of a long distance relationship (did I really just refer to an LDR positively?!), I found myself again, and I'm never letting go.
There are a few tips I've discovered from experience or through various articles I've read along the way. Here's how to not lose yourself in a relationship or how to find yourself again:
- Do your own thing just for you. I joke frequently that my boyfriend and I can sit in the same room right next to each other but be in our own little worlds. Writing has always been "my own thing" (& now blogging is included in that!). And C's all about his sports and fantasy leagues recently. Every now and then, C will glance over at my screen for a second or I'll pop my head up and ask about a player being traded, but then we go back to our respective "things" for a little while. I love the comfort of his body next to mine while being able to silently relax with what I love. A 2009 article on Oprah.com has an interesting way of presenting the possibility of "losing yourself in love" and encouraging women to hold on dearly to what we love instead.
- Cling to your Secret Single Behavior (SSB). SSB builds from the previous tip but takes it a bit farther. In Sex And The City, Carrie's SSB included stacking and eating saltine crackers, while Miranda preferred a sort of homemade paraffin treatment (and of course, Samantha didn't have one!). One of my SSBs is watching old episodes of Sex And The City or Gossip Girl, while making a lengthy list of inspired "wardrobe essentials" and nibbling Borden cheese wheels. And throughout our 5 year relationship, I've continued this behavior, however, strange it may be.
- Make decisions with "you" in mind and plan "your" future. A little over 3 years ago, I decided that I wanted to study law and needed to come back home to New York City to do it (I was in Pennsylvania for university). C's job prospects kept him in Pennsylvania, and then an amazing opportunity took him to the DC area. When I told my colleagues about him moving 3 hours farther away, I was asked if I was tagging along. I was astounded! I didn't understand how people even saw that as an option. How could I possibly abandon my career, my life? That would essentially be abandoning myself. I'm not insinuating anything negative about moving for a boyfriend, but I had a task to complete here in New York and so that's where I was going to stay. I'm not going to pretend that I don't frequently dream of the life that C and I will live in the (near) future, one that I hope includes a high-rise apartment in Midtown Manhattan and fabulous dinner dates in Soho. But there are 3 separate dreams here: his, mine and ours. And, in my opinion, it is so important not to forget your own dreams in a relationship.
- Go out without him. Although friends and family will understand that you only have so much time to give and part of that now gets allotted to the man in your life, don't push them out. Find a way to balance it all, making sure to make time for those that matter. This isn't to say everyone will get equal parts, but try not to become the "disappearing woman." Go out for a mani/pedi with the girls or schedule tea at a cute little tea salon with your mom (two things I desperately need to do!).
Lady Mendl's Tea Salon is an adorable, cozy salon on the ground floor of a walk-up hotel in Gramercy.
- Try hard to compartmentalize the disagreements. So much easier said then done, I tell ya, but if you master this, it can be so beneficial to you and the relationship. In the beginning, any argument with C would completely ruin my entire day until we resolved it, which pretty much ensured I wasn't going to be productive in the meantime. I'd be lying if I said I've mastered the idea of compartmentalizing our disagreements, but I'm truly much better at it after years of practice (not that we argue that much!). So when you've reached a bit of a stalemate with your soulmate, throw yourself into your work, go for a run, or better yet, take the time to engage in your SSB :)
|Us ❤ Law School graduation 2013.|