How Not To Lose Yourself In A New Relationship

Women's Dating

6 Ways Not to Lose Yourself in a New Relationship

Rachel Dack

Written by: Rachel Dack

Rachel Dack

Rachel Dack is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach specializing in individual and couples psychotherapy. Rachel's areas of expertise include relationships, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and self-esteem. To connect with Rachel or to learn more about her psychotherapy and relationship coaching services, please follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Buy her book "Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life" on Amazon.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Have you ever felt like you couldn’t get enough of the new person in your life? All of a sudden your crush takes up significant space in your mind, and you wish you could spend 24/7 together. You feel distracted and jittery as you fantasize about a happy future together. If this sounds like you, you aren’t alone.

It can be challenging to manage the intoxicating feeling of hitting it off with someone new. It’s natural to want to spend time with the new person you are dating, but going all in from the beginning can create problems. Constantly hanging out with someone new in your life is not the healthiest starting point for a growing relationship.

Oftentimes, this pace begins to feel overwhelming and exhausting given the short amount of time you’ve known each other. If you don’t allow yourself the space to appraise how things are going, the relationship you were so excited about can suddenly crash and burn. Simply put, it was too much too soon.

On the other hand, if you do become a couple, but neglect yourself (and the rest of your life) from the start, you will continue to lose yourself over time. That’s why it’s important to schedule time apart for separate interests, goals, friendships, and self-care during the early days of dating — and all relationship stages, for that matter.

So, how can you open up your heart to get to know someone while making sure you are not losing your identity in the process? Here are six tips:

1. Take Inventory of Your Personal Boundaries

For some, the word “boundary” feels harsh and scary. It conveys the notion of keeping people and things out. It also means protecting what you value about yourself. Healthy boundaries make for safe, loving, and respectful relationships.

Boundaries will also help you maintain a sense of self and create a relationship that functions better because you are being honest with your partner about what you need. In fact, if you clearly communicate a boundary and your date crosses it, this is a big red flag (remember, no means no). Take some time to reflect on your personal boundaries and non-negotiables.

Photo of couple talking

Think about the boundaries you want to set in your new relationship, and relay those boundaries to your partner in a clear way.

Everyone’s boundaries are different, and they reflect your comfort level at different stages of a relationship. They may include feeling safe meeting someone new in a public place vs. inviting them into your home, knowing when it’s right for you to take part in physical intimacy and sex, respecting how and when to communicate with each other, and what your relationship on social media will be.

2. Apply Boundaries and Watch Out for Violations

Once you have an understanding of your own boundaries, make a commitment to respect and stand by them (for example, your need for space, down time, and sleep) as well as someone else’s boundaries.

If you aren’t careful, the intensity of your feelings may create an illusion that you’ve known each other longer than you have. That can result in a blurring of boundaries and impulsive decision-making. For example, you may lack healthy boundaries if, before you know how it happened, the person you are newly dating has pretty much moved in, and you are spending every waking minute together (even if it feels “right”).

At the early stage of a relationship, you are both feeling out the landscape. You’re trying to figure out whether your new love interest is seeking the same things you are. It’s OK to pump the brakes if you feel pressured by your partner to be exclusive after one date, he or she wants to text all day long, or is eager to have nightly sleepovers. Be honest and communicate clearly to your partner what you need. Knowing and respecting clear, healthy boundaries provide breathing room to value each stage of a relationship.

You can invite this person into your life while maintaining your personal space to enjoy your own life when you respect each other’s boundaries. Click here for my advice on how to handle a suffocating boyfriend.

3. Be Present But Also Consider How Your Choices Will Impact the Future of Your Relationships

The impulse to want to spend every hour with your new crush is natural. But, the truth is, you need to be mindful of how your choices early on will affect the future.

Many instant relationships end as quickly as they start, and if they don’t, you risk losing your identity if your partner doesn’t value who you are. Neither of these scenarios is ideal.

Photo of couple in bed

These feelings feel great in the moment, but don’t let them cloud your judgment.

That’s why it’s essential to be present and trust your feelings. You want to maintain your own self-care so you can think rationally and maturely and not regret your behavior later on. Don’t act impulsively just because something feels good in the moment.

Instead, consider how you can create a healthy relationship from the start. This involves pacing yourself, and not rushing things, suffocating each other or neglecting other aspects of your life. It also means remembering how new your relationship is and giving it a chance to grow naturally over time.

4. Understand That Your Partner is Not Supposed to Save You, Cure You, or Rescue You From Your Own Demons and Baggage

You may lose yourself in relationships if you feel dependent on your partner to meet all of your needs or if you believe it’s your job to meet all of your partner’s needs. Spoiler alert: This is draining and unrealistic. Examine your own expectations and beliefs about relationships. Healthy relationships come from your own self-awareness and deliberate choices.

Yes, your partner should treat you with the care, respect, love, and affection you deserve, but ultimately, your partner will not meet all of your needs. You need to be self-reflective, self-sufficient, and in charge of your own health and happiness to achieve a balanced relationship. Strive to be deeply connected to your partner without relying on each other to be everything for the other. You can grow deeply in love and be supportive of each other without becoming each other’s entire existence or losing yourself in the process.

5. Continue to Invest in Your Own Life (And Yourself) at Every Stage of Your Relationship

Reflect on what was important to you, including your hobbies, career goals, relationships and friendships, and commit to continuing to make time for your own life.

If you abandon yourself and your other relationships for your new partner, you will set yourself up for a dysfunctional and potentially co-dependent relationship. Plus if your relationship ends, you may feel empty and unworthy. Use healthy boundaries to honor yourself, your needs and personal goals from day one.

Photo of friends hugging

If you neglect your family and friends, they may not be for you if your new relationship ends.

Participate in activities that bring you joy and confidence without your partner. Acknowledge that infatuation can make you desire endless time together, but neglecting yourself and your own life is not the answer.

6. Be Honest and True to Yourself

It bears repeating that making room for your new relationship without giving up who you are and what’s important to you will only make you happier. If you notice you are uncomfortable speaking up about your feelings and opinions, you may be vulnerable to losing yourself. You are also at risk if you pretend to be someone you are not or give up on your core values to get someone to like you.

Be genuine and honest about yourself from the start. In a healthy relationship, you will feel comfortable being authentic, sharing your feelings and viewpoints, and bringing up concerns and issues. You and your partner will work as a team to navigate challenges while respecting each other’s individuality.

You Want to Build a Solid Foundation for Your New Relationship, But You Don’t Want to Neglect the Other Areas of Your Life

It takes time to develop a connection and evaluate compatibility with someone you’ve just met. You both have to put in the effort to help that initial spark progress to something more substantial. But as hard as it is to resist putting all your emotional chips on the table in one fell swoop, you must care for yourself first by setting healthy limits.

Dating at an appropriate pace, being aware of where your time is going, and maintaining strong boundaries ensures you are building a solid foundation without losing yourself in the process, which can be detrimental to your mental health and relationship. Make it your goal to find a relationship that brings you joy without losing your unique identity.

This quote sums it up well: “Never lose yourself in a relationship. Love your partner fiercely, but always follow your unique dreams and desires. Be true to yourself.” — Unknown

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