A few years ago, I started what later would become the most toxic relationship of my life. At first, everything seemed great. The colors were brighter, the food tasted better, and I felt lighter. But a couple of months passed, and I realized that I had changed — and not for the better.
There’s a fine line between experiencing amazing things and emotions, and getting so wrapped up in those feelings that you end up losing your true self.
This is how I knew I was losing myself in my relationship, and how I made some changes for the better.
I quickly lost friends.
I used to hang out with lots of people and had many close friends. But they slowly faded away as I began to isolate myself with my boyfriend.
I was so eager to spend time with him that I forgot about the other people in my life. I stopped going out, I never had time to hang out with friends anymore, and with time, they stopped asking because “I always had plans with my boyfriend.”
I was never alone.
I found myself always wanting to do things with my significant other, and I couldn’t seem to be alone for a long time. I couldn’t go more than a couple of hours without texting or speaking to him, and we were constantly seeing each other.
I loved music, running, writing, and going out, but I started doing all of those amazing hobbies less and less. All I wanted to do was spend as much time with him as possible. I started to develop a sense of dependence.
I always prioritized him.
I hate sci-fi movies, I really do. But when I was in that relationship, I watched so many of them. I was so focused on pleasing him and doing the things that he enjoyed, that I forgot my own needs and likes.
There’s nothing wrong with compromising and doing stuff that you don’t necessarily love if it makes the other person happy. But I was so desperate to entertain him that I sat through thousands of hours of bad sci-fi movies that did nothing for me.
I also forgot what my goals were. And the few ones that I remembered, I made up excuses for why I had to give them up and support my partner and his goals and dreams.
It was hard to distinguish whether I was doing things for ‘me’ or for ‘us’.
When you start a relationship, it’s easy to get wrapped up in being a couple and planning a future together, but I completely forgot about my future.
I even questioned going to my dream college for fear of being too far away from him. Yet if my relationship was strong, I shouldn’t have thought about compromising my future to accommodate someone else into my life.
I was always the one willing to change.
I can’t even count the number of times that I changed or gave up something that I liked for the sake of “our relationship”. I was so desperate to make the relationship work that I edited parts of my personality and interests just to make us more compatible.
Of course, it’s perfectly normal to change interests and hobbies throughout your life, but I shouldn’t have changed them because of my partner. So when making plans or deciding things, compromise should’ve been the only option for both of us.
I constantly talked about my relationship.
I used to talk about my relationship with everyone. I mean, everyone. I always found a way to tell people how wonderful my boyfriend was and how lucky I was to be with him. It was cute at first, but at some point, it got boring for those around me and it made me quite unhappy.
I felt the need to talk about it because I was unsure of it, and it felt safer to make everyone else a witness to it. And that wasn’t healthy or fair to anyone.
How I got myself back
When I realized I was losing myself in my relationship, but didn’t want to end it, I decided to make some changes and talk it out with my partner.
The most important idea that we agreed on was to start prioritizing myself again. Prioritizing my passions, my goals, my time and my feelings. No matter what I needed to do and how wrong it felt at first, I started keeping myself in my priority list. And I don’t mean that in an egotistical way, I mean it in a more caring and putting myself first way.
For instance, I started running again. I reached out to old friends to rekindle amazing friendships. Although at first it was weird, we also started spending less time together as a couple and we designated one hour a day to each do whatever we wanted — without the other one. It took a couple of weeks to adjust to our new dynamic, but looking back, it’s one of the best decisions that we made.
To move forward, it was essential to compromise, but when doing so, I had to learn what was important to me and what I didn’t want to change or give up. And I believe that was what saved my relationship and helped me grow as a person.
Now, our partnership is based on compromise and honesty. If I don’t feel like doing something, even if it feels “wrong” to say something, we talk about it and change plans.
Since then, we’ve grown so much on our own and we’ve developed as individuals instead of as codependent people. So even though our present is together, our personalities and goals are separated.