Falling in love is phenomenal. You don't have to lose yourself in the process.
You’ve done it. We all have. You meet "the one." You start falling in love. Everything is perfect.
You delight in one blissful date after the next. You like the same food, enjoy the same movies and have a taste for the same kind of furniture. You’re inseparable. You finish each other’s sentences. Time passes. Anniversaries are celebrated. Holidays are shared.
Then, one day, you abruptly discover something is not quite right. You start to miss those Bellini brunches with your girlfriends, trips to the theme park with your nieces and nephews, and that occasional beer with a cool cohort who just "gets" what you mean when you go off on a riff about the biz world.
What happened? You may have ignored any and all good relationship advice that warned you to keep your own individual identity.
Too often, people become so focused on getting into a relationship (or staying in one), they let go of the things that let them be who they really are. If they blend too much of themselves into the "Love Soup," things get blah and bland.
Both partners, no longer able to recognize the person they fell in love with, look at each other and ask: "Who are you?"
It’s as though the two people who so magically and perfectly fit together at the beginning have been abducted by aliens, leaving blank-faced pod people clones of themselves behind.
To some degree, you do need to sacrifice some of your habits and opinions to make relationships work. But when you go overboard on the compromise, the ties between you can tug and bind, and then you’re doing things that don’t feel right.
Before you realize it, instead of counting the seconds until you can be together, you want to be alone. Your new best friends are anger and resentment. How can you do the dance of love without getting caught in a miserable trap?
Try these five essentials aimed at helping you hang on to your identity, and you’ll not only recapture your freedom without losing your love, but you’ll also add to the happiness you have when you’re together. Stick to being your authentic self and remember why you fell in love in the first place.
1. Spend time with your closest friends
No matter how much you love your honey, there’s nothing like a lunch with the ladies who make you laugh and cry at the same time. Set a goal — just like you do at work — to have at least one meal or movie date a week with someone you can share girl-talk with.
2. Take up a hobby
You and your lover don’t actually have to do everything together, you know. Maybe you’ve always had a hobby or played a sport that plasters a big smile on your face. If you gave it up because he doesn’t share your enthusiasm, you can still get back to it.
Even though you'll spend some time apart, he’ll love you all the more when you come home with that happy grin!
3. Pamper yourself
At times, the only way to get into your own head without sharing that space with the one you love is to escape to a hot stone massage at the spa, a deep meditation, or even a simple hot bubble bath. It’s okay to lock the bathroom door so you can steam your pores — alone. Try it.
4. Take care of business
Even if you can’t wait to fall into his arms after a long day at the job, make sure you’re building (and not abandoning) key work relationships. There are certain bonds that can only be maintained when you hit happy hour or a cool conference with your business buds.
5. Visit your family completely solo
Your family loves your partner almost as much as you do, but don’t be shocked to hear they also miss being with "just you." Even if it’s a short a phone call on your own without putting him on the line to say "hi", no one snaps you back to the reality of who you’ve always been like a family member does.
Maybe the biggest bonus you’ll get from doing all or some of these things is the gift of having fresh experiences to talk about when you and your partner do spend time together. Also, remember to respect his need to have time to be just who he is as an individual.
A night out watching the game with the guys now and then will give you both a chance to miss each other just enough to get you longing for the thrill of a score in the bedroom. After a night of sports trivia and craft beer nerdiness, he’ll remember how sexy and interesting you really are.