As someone who spent years of her dating life struggling between simultaneous desires to be in a relationship AND be super independent and single — “sowing my wild oats,” so to speak — I can relate to the fear of losing myself in a relationship.
But now that I’ve been in a relationship for seven years, and thinking about getting married, I can tell you, I couldn’t be happier.
Part of what helped me get through my fear of losing myself was thinking about what I was actually afraid of…
Was I afraid that people would perceive me as less of an individual?
On that note, I basically decided those people could go to hell. Or at the very least shouldn’t cause me any worry. The people who are my true friends continue to respect me and my significant other as individuals, and don’t constantly refer to ME as “you two.”
As for the others, you can either ignore what they think, or try to correct them. For example, when they ask “What are you-and-Significant-Other doing this weekend?” you can reply, a bit pointedly, “Well *I* am doing XYZ, but [Significant Other] has his own hobbies.”
Would I actually lose some of my individuality, my personal tastes and hobbies?
I was I afraid that, in being more committed, I’d lose my individuality and interests. This was a much bigger issue for me, as I realized I struggled a bit with being dependent on my significant others. I noticed two things helped with that fear:
- Me-time really helps me reaffirm my identity and individuality
In my most recent relationship, I’ve tried to avoid it by carving out regular alone time. (It’s easy for us — I am a “morning person” and he is not, so I get to be alone in the mornings.) And using it to develop my own hobbies, listen to my own music, watch my own movies, and generally revel in me-ness. If I still have things I want to do when he wakes up, I just warn him “I’m going to want a couple hours of me-time today.”
- Another thing that helps is that we have a “venn diagram” of friends
He has some friends that are “his” and I have some friends that are “mine.” And then we have some that we share. Going out with “my” friends, doing stuff he wouldn’t be into, and talking about stuff he wouldn’t be into, plus the crucial element of being out in public without him, all make me feel like a much more independent, confident person.
I would encourage you to think through some similar things
Think about that you waking up one day and you aren’t “you” anymore — what happened? How did you know that you were not you? Was it the way people see you? Was it how your activities or time overlap with your partner? Once you know some of this, you can take some steps toward making it not happen or changing your perspective on it.
What are some of the ways you combat the fear of losing yourself in a relationship?