15 Expert Tips For Someone Who Feels Lost in a Relationship
Think about the following question…
Where do you end and where does your partner begin?
Do you know the answer?
If you’re like most people the start of a new relationship is always so exciting.
You want to share everything with your partner, do things together all day and you’re truly wearing your “rose-coloured glasses”.
But sometimes a couple merges too much. You start to feel like you’re losing yourself in the relationship.
You start losing your identity, start neglecting your friends and hobbies and you become dependent on your partner.
At some point you might even start to feel resentful towards your partner for giving up parts of yourself. This can especially happen when your partner is insecure or mistrusting.
Losing yourself in a relationship can really affect your independence, your sense of self and your self-confidence. The good thing is that it is possible to reclaim yourself. You can feel confident, independent and empowered again.
To help you get on the right track again, we’ve asked 15 relationship experts what their number one tip would be for someone who feels lost in a relationship.
We received amazing responses that will really help you to connect with yourself again and to rediscover the person you were before you met your partner.
Here are our experts best tips for someone who feels lost in a relationship or marriage:
“A fulfilling marriage balances healthy autonomy with healthy dependence. People who “lose themselves” in relationships tend to overdo dependence and under-do autonomy. One way to break this pattern is to stop trying to please your partner and develop your own autonomy. In reality, nobody actually loses their identity in a relationship. They forget to meet their own needs and over-focus on meeting their partner’s needs. They stop doing the things that bring them joy and focus on doing the things that bring their partner joy. They can often abandon their own friends and adopt their partner’s friends. In short, the solution is to re-establish your own life outside of your relationship without sacrificing your relationship in the process. I call this INTERDEPENDENCE – the ability to be dependent and independent in response to both you and your partner’s changing needs.”
Bruce Muzik / Love At First Fight
Bruce Muzik is a relationship repair expert who helps people fix their troubled relationships or save their marriages.
“From the beginning of the relationship, keep your friends (none that were “romantic” relationships, please). Friends. Women need women friends that they can have lunch with, engage in small talk or pour their heart out when needed or just go shopping. Guys need friends to do “guy things” with, without female input or chatter. It should be o.k. to meet a friend for lunch or go to a ballgame without the partner. In fact, it should be a regular event. When you come back, you have something new to talk about, to share with your beloved. This requires some degree of trust. But if you have no trust, do you really have a relationship you want to sustain? (Note: I am assuming that you know who you are and what it is you want from a relationship. If you don’t, go back to square one because that is the starting place. No wonder you are feeling lost.)”
Irene Conlan / The Self-improvement Blog
Irene has a Master’s degree in Nursing, a PhD in metaphysics and a long lifetime of “learning experiences.” She has had The Self Improvement Blog since 2007 and The Self Improvement Radio Show since 2010 because she believes we all want to “be better, do better and be happier.” She has two sons, four grandsons, two dogs and lives with the love of her life in a beautiful little town in Arizona.
“My number 1 tip for someone who is losing his or her identity in a relationship or marriage is to talk to their partner about what they’re experiencing. Obviously you need to do this in a way that doesn’t blame your partner for the situation. Instead, I would suggest simply stating what you’re experiencing and asking your partner if they’re willing to help you come up with solutions.If they are, then great! You’ll know that your partner supports you and wants the best for you. And you’ll also have solutions to your problem that you may not have thought of by yourself.
Of course, your partner could also become angry, be dismissive towards your concerns, refuse to help you, or react in some other negative way. If so, then you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to stay in the relationship. Not only are you losing your identity in the relationship but you’re with a partner who isn’t supportive of your concerns.”
Ed Herzog / EdHerzog.com
Ed Herzog’s mission is to help people stop playing safe and to start making the courageous decisions to live life fully, authentically, and fearlessly. You can start with his free course: Your Life Without Regrets: 6 Powerful Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams.
“Get outside support – whether it is a trusted friend, a therapist, a support group, or a coach! It’s hard to reflect on your own connection to someone when your usual modus operandi is to be co-dependent and care take your partner. It is a much deeper part that needs to be healed and re-wired. And we can’t do it alone. It is possible to strengthen our sense of self and connect to our needs and speak up about them, but it is a process that can be achieved much faster and more powerfully when done with someone else (or in community).”
Natalie Vartanian / NatalieVartanian.com
“Natalie Vartanian is a certified life coach, relationship expert, business strategist, writer, and speaker/teacher. Her mission is to inspire people to dream big and take the risks to have it all and live a turned on life. She has worked with women from across 5 continents to help them get the sex lives and the relationships they truly desire. She also loves supporting women in connecting to their passion work in the world and building businesses that make a difference in a way that feels fun, easy, and alive. Natalie is currently working on self publishing her first book. You can get on the waiting list for her book’s release here.”
“When you feel like you are losing your identity it’s natural to be tempted to go in the opposite direction and become completely resistant to your partners influence. Don’t do that since that will only create additional issue in your marriage. Instead identify a few core pieces of yourself that you miss and look for ways to incorporate those into your relationship and daily life.”
Irene Schreiner / Solid Foundations Therapy
Irene is the owner of Solid Foundations Therapy, a private practice in Downers Grove, Illinois that specializes in romantic relationship. Irene truly believes that most people go into relationships with the best of intentions but often don’t have the skills necessary to be in healthy relationships. She is passionate about teach people those skills. Her practice is known for being goal orientated, practical and skill based.
Therese Schwenkler / TheUnlost.com
Therese Schwenkler is the founder of, and blogger at, TheUnlost.com, where she offers non-sucky advice on life, love and work.
” Interesting question! Considering that I got married pretty late by traditional standards in our community—at 33—I admit I was a little apprehensive about how life would be, what with both of us pretty much settled in our careers and having our own independent mindsets. Also, we are both quite strong-willed. How to maintain our individuality, get our personal space, yet remain devoted to each other? After all, we enter into a relationship to be happy, right?Here are my tips, or rather, some do’s and donts:
- Don’t hesitate to voice your feelings. There’s no need to agree with everything your partner says for fear of rocking the boat, or losing him/her. That kind of compromise is just stupid. Good relationships thrive on understanding and trust. And a lot of humor.
- Support each other’s hobbies and interests, but don’t give up on your own passions, even if they’re different from your partner’s.
- Don’t be clingy and dependent and look for your partner’s approval for trivial stuff.
- Do go out with your own friends just as you used to, without your partner. Accept that it is perfectly fine if your partner does not get along with your best friend.
- Don’t give up on your dreams, your goals, or your career—they are just as important as your partner’s.
- Keep in mind that not all exciting experiences need to be shared ones with your partner. If you want to meet your friends for a weekend away, do it.
- Don’t feel obliged to constantly text and call your partner. Take time off to do your thing without reporting to your partner.
- Don’t neglect other crucial relationships in your life. A healthy relationship means giving each other space.
- Don’t try to be perfect. That’ a myth.
If you are still dating, and your partner doesn’t excite you, it is okay to take stock of whether this is the right relationship for you. And of course, keep an open mind. You don’t have to sacrifice your values just to go along with your partner’s wishes. Happiness is a DIY project. And self-care should be your priority.”
Vidya Sury / Vidyasury.com
Vidya Sury retired from her corporate career at 33 to focus on her family, and is now living her dream as a writer and editor. With six blogs of her own and published contributions across the web, she writes to collect smiles and donate to charities. On her blogs, she writes about all the things she enjoys in life; parenting, mindful living, personal development, books, food, health and wellness, and travel. She loves coffee, DIY, music, photography and showing her diabetes who’s boss. Connect with her at Vidyasury.com.
“It is a common phenomenon and a stage that most couples go through where they stretch too far into the other partner’s world in an attempt accommodate to them and then find that they have given up too much of their own well-being in the process. If we are selfish and self-centred and only think of our own needs the relationship suffers. But if we accommodate and make the other person’s needs more important than our own, it breeds resentment and the relationship suffers. When Charlie and I did our research project on The Secrets of Great Marriages; Real Truths from Real Couples about Lasting Love, we found that one of the secrets was that these couples were champs about responsible self-care and generosity.
Here is what responsible self-care looks like:
Cynthia: “I just don’t trust him anymore. There’s no point in our even trying to work things out until Tom starts acting more respectfully towards me and shows me that I can trust him”. This wasn’t the first time that Cynthia had concluded that her marriage was in big trouble, but she sounded more hopeless that she had in any of the previous times. And she was justified in feeling hopeless. Tom didn’t seem motivated to do anything about his habit of raging at her whenever he felt frustrated, threatened or hurt, and after countless unsuccessful efforts to try to do anything about it, Cynthia was convinced that her efforts to change her husband were futile.
Much of their twelve-year marriage had been problematic and since she seemed to be unable to change Tom, it looked to her like she had only two options, to continue to tolerate a situation, which had become increasingly intolerable or to leave the marriage. Feeling like she had nothing to lose.
Cynthia decided to try something new, something that she had never done during the course of her marriage: She stopped focusing on Tom’s behavior, and focused instead on her responses to him. Rather than trying to get him to alter his behavior and feeling resentful and hurt when he inevitably did not, Cynthia instead sought to become more aware of her own feelings. She gave herself the care and respect that she had been trying to get Tom to give her. When she was feeling hurt, or frightened she gave herself the love and comfort that she needed, taking whatever actions and speaking whatever words were necessary to make her feel more secure. In standing up for herself rather than focusing on Tom she began to see that her husband wasn’t the only source of her pain and mistrust.
The child part of her had felt abandoned and betrayed by the adult part of her who was so busy trying to control Tom. She was neglecting her own needs. Gradually Cynthia came to realize that she was out of trust with herself for providing the care that she needed when she was frightened and hurting. “I was so busy trying to get Tom to change that I didn’t see how I was contributing to my own pain by being so neglectful of myself. I had to repair and rebuild my damaged self-trust by tuning in and responding to myself rather than to Tom.”
Although Cynthia’s self-trust didn’t develop overnight, over a period of months it grew and deepened significantly. As her efforts to influence Tom increased, he felt less controlled by her and the frequency of his angry outbursts gradually diminished. The more trusting Cynthia became of herself to protect herself and provide for her own needs, the less caught up they both were in their destructive pattern. Cynthia wanted her marriage to work out but she knew that if it didn’t she would be all right. The realization that she could trust herself to take care of herself allowed her to let go of attempting to control Tom. Trusting her commitment to her own self-care became the one of the most important ingredients in the repair of her marriage and of her connection with herself.
Although people with great relationships can easily be characterized as givers, their giving does not possess the quality of self-sacrifice. They are generous without being martyrs. They recognize the importance of responsibly providing for their own physical and emotional needs. They know where the limits of their care giving are and they generally are careful not to give to the point of feeling resentful or depleted. They are willing to exercise what one person referred to as “healthy selfishness.” They know that if they neglect their own needs they are not going to be much good to other people. If they expect others to take care of them, they are likely to end up feelings disappointed and resentful.
Those with highly successful partnerships have a commitment to provide responsible self-care, and are willing to risk the disapproval of others who may judge them as being selfish or uncaring. These are Cynthia’s comments on the subject, “I’ve gotten criticism from people in my family, but I know what I need in order to thrive, and I give that to myself. The better care I take to fulfil my own needs, the more I have to give to Tom and others. It’s self neglect that is selfish, not taking good care of myself, and that has made all the difference.”
Linda Bloom / Bloomwork.com
Linda Bloom has served as psychotherapist and seminar leader practicing relationship counseling almost forty years. She is a regular presenter at Esalen Institute, Kirpalu, and Multiversity. She has spoken at several conferences sponsored by the International Transpersonal Association, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, and The Northern California Mindfulness Institute. She is coauthor, with Charlie Bloom, of:
- 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last
- Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and
- Happily Ever After… and 39 Other Myths about Love.
Visit her website at www.bloomwork.com.
“My # 1 tip for someone losing their identity in their marriage is to first acknowledge that it has happened and then without any self flagellation, make a decision to recover to self. Be committed to your happiness! Then it’s about going back to basics – rediscovering your values, doing what you love, dusting off buried dreams, creating new ones, self care, positive self talk, etc. But first, the decision.”
Tia Sparkles / Your Life Your Way
Tia is a certified life-coach who provides inspiration & advice to grow your courage and confidence so you can sparkle from the inside out & live the life you want – not the life you “SHOULD”.
“I believe that the reason people merge is two fold. One is that very rarely are people in what I would call an intentional relationship. Meaning they chose the person they are with intentionally for their qualitites and
are creating a relationship intentionally by learning what it is that they really want out of a relationship.
When I met my husband I was almost 30 years old. I knew exactly the qualities I wanted in a man and what I wanted a relationship to look like. I told hime that I was a very independent woman and that if was going to be with me he would have to respect that there would be a him, me and and us. I was very committed to not having a relationship like my parents did even though they loved each other and were married for 73 years.
Secondly, there are many beliefs that drive peoples’ behaviors in relationships. First comes the self esteem beliefs like I’m not good enough, I’m not important, I’m not worthy. Then beliefs about themselves such as “I need a man/woman in order to survive” I can’t make it on my own. “I have to please people in order to be loved.” Many people fear conflict so they just do what the other person wants them to do and loses themselves. ” My needs/wants are not important”
I had a client recently who was very neglected as a child. She formed the belief “I’m invisible.” She is very merged with her husband and rarely speaks up in conversations.”
Shelly Lefkoe / The Lefkoe Institute
Shelly Lefkoe is co-founder and President of the Lefkoe Institute, and the founder and Parenting the Lefkoeway. She has personally worked with thousands of individuals from around the world. Using The Lefkoe Method she has helped these people eliminate issues as serious as eating disorders, phobias and depression as well as everyday problems like procrastination, shyness, fear of public speaking and the inability to form healthy relationships. Shelly is a speaker, workshop leader, and author of Parenting the Lefkoe Way.
“Love relationships are built on three things: communication, presence, and sacrifice. Communication is about sharing words that are tied to emotions and lead to actions. As two people talk together they sense some degree of sharing things in common and they begin to want to share everything with each other. They talk and talk and talk. They can’t get enough of each other.
The early stage of two people growing closer is often called “infatuated love”. Their relationship is marked by intrusive thinking. It is thrilling and intoxicating. People experience an aching, longing heart, a pit in the stomach, a sense of buoyancy or walking on air. This love is a supreme delight. Infatuated love is almost miraculous. It has a life of its own. Dr. Susan Johnson observes that this period of infatuated love propels two people into a love relationship and enables them to get through the early skirmishes where their differences collide.
There are few things sweater in life than understanding and accepting another person and being accepted and feeling understood. People feel as if they’ve found their “soulmate” as their sense of closeness and their physical intimacy grows. Couples may feel as if they are merging into “oneness”. But true intimacy is the coming together to complete human beings. They bring all of their own identity into their relationship. The adventure of love relationships is not the result of losing personal identity. It is the result of being secure and safe to be who you really are – totally known and totally accepted for who you are in spite of differences in personality, preferences, love languages, learning styles, family of origin differences or inherent personal weaknesses and flaws. It is in the getting to know, understand and accept each other deeply that makes up the adventure of loving attachment, disillusionment, misery and then re-awakening into mature love.Again, the intimacy of love relationships while involving self-sacrifice is not about losing one’s self. It is about being fully known and knowing fully.”
Edward A. Riddick / CelebrateMarriage.us
Edward is a marriage counselor, relationship educator, and conference speaker. His passion is helping couples understand and resolve conflict to help them increase their relational satisfaction. Edward has provided marriage counseling for over 30 years
“Ask yourself: What did I learn and do as a child from my caregivers about how–and if–to speak up, and then make a list of the times–past or present–you felt or feel “unheard, undervalued, or dismissed,” and write next to each time why you think you backed down and didn’t speak up.
LeslieBeth Wish / Love Victory
My best advice for someone who feels lost in a relationship is to”Carve out “me” time in addition to “we” time in order to pursue your individual hobbies, preferences, and desires. If you enjoy going out to lunch with friends, be sure to continue scheduling those lunches. If you like to see certain movies that your partner doesn’t like, go with a friend – get those on the calendar. Find a common denominator for what works for “we,” but make time separately to indulge your own interests.”
Jane Greer / DrJaneGreer.com
Dr. Jane Greer is a New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
“My number one advice for someone who feels lost in a relationship is to create a great cake of life and let your relationship/marriage be the icing on the cake.”
Corey Allan / SimpleMarriage.net
Corey is a husband, father, author, speaker, as well as a Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Ph.D. in Family Therapy.
“The dilemma for all relationships is to find that balance between a we and an I. About 80% of the men are what I call “distancers” and 80% of the women are pursuers . Pursuers are more focused on the “we “and distancers are more focused on the “l”in relationships.The trick is to both compromise and become more of the “other” so you end up somewhat in the middle. If the pursuer moves to be more of an I ,an individual ,and the distancer less selfish, more of a team player for the twosome ,the balance is formed, neutralizing each other! Think of two porcupines in an igloo… They are close enough to keep each other warm, but not so close that they touch and hurt each other, this is the right balance for not loosing yourself in another person. The pursuer & distancer phenomenon (dance) done right is the key to not loosing yourself in another!”
Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil / DoctorBonnie.com
Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil is a relationship and marriage counselor that specializes in couple and relationship therapy to bridge intimacy issues keeping relationships thriving. Her practice in marriage and family therapy has helped individuals and couples save their relationships and their marriages.
You can reclaim yourself when you feel lost in a relationship!
Those were great tips.
As you can see, it’s definitely possible to find a healthy balance again in your relationship or marriage when you feel lost.
You can reclaim your identity, independence and your sense of self.
To complement all of the above tips Chantalle and I wrote a guide called “12 Powerful Ways to Stay Yourself in a Relationship”. You can download it for free by clicking here. All you need to do is fill in your email and you’ll get instant access.