We all know the feeling.
It’s so easy to find a strong sense of self when you're single, focused and have the ability to delegate time however you like.
Then, you meet a new guy, get involved and all your independence goes out the window.
You might not even realize how much you’ve changed and adapted for your relationship.
You wake up one day and notice you’re stressed because you’ve lost so much of yourself by worrying about him and the two of you together.
Gone are the days of personal autonomy, and you want them back.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are a few ways to make sure you stay the amazing, strong person he fell for in the first place:
1. Take it slow.
We’ve all been guilty of rushing into things with a new guy at one time or another.
Maybe it’s been a very long time since you’ve liked someone, and you’re just excited.
Maybe he’s intensely into you and it feels good after months of boring, listless dates that never evolved into anything.
Regardless, think of it this way: If the two of you are meant to be, you will have all the time in the world to get to know each other.
Go on dates, but only once a week at first. Keep the rest of your life moving.
You’ve had a busy, full schedule while single, and you shouldn’t abandon it at the first sign of new love.
Better yet, taking it slow is a great way to judge his interest in you.
Is he in it for the long haul, or does he just want to hit it and quit it?
If he truly wants to get to know you, he will be fine with your desire to keep things casual for a while.
Know your worth, and know the right guy will wait patiently until you are ready to become more serious.
2. Never, ever abandon your friends.
This is a big one, and directly ties into taking it slow.
Everyone’s biggest pet peeve is the girl who disappears from the circle as soon as there’s a new man in her life.
Go figure. Their intense connection is usually short-lived, and she’s back a few months later.
She’s expecting to get as much of your time as she had before she abandoned you, and you’re seething with resentment.
Don't treat your friends like they're disposable.
It’s disrespectful, and you know very well they were there for you before (and will be there for you after) your relationship.
Strong friendships are a valuable and essential part of life. As you grow older, they become harder to come by.
Never toss a friend aside to spend all your time with your boyfriend.
Life is all about balance, and a guy is another variable to add to the mix.
Yes, it makes the whole thing a little trickier, but ignoring your support network of friends and family is not the answer.
A good guy will understand and encourage you to take time for the others in your life.
3. Hold on to your unique set of interests.
Obviously, the two of you have a lot in common.
You wouldn’t be so into him if you didn’t (I hope).
Still, there are bound to be areas in which you don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Not only is that okay, it’s healthy.
One of the biggest mistakes young couples make is doing everything together.
You are entitled to your own set of interests.
If he doesn’t want to do something you’re into or vice versa, it's a perfect opportunity to spend time with a friend instead. (See? All of these elements tie in to one another!)
Better yet, use it as an opportunity for some alone time.
Reconnect with yourself and remember how awesome you are on your own, with or without a man.
On the flip side of things, you have to be secure enough to allow him his own time.
If the relationship is strong and you are a confident, independent human being, there’s no reason to worry about him spending time away from you.
Having new and unique experiences gives the two of you more to talk about when you do reconnect.
If you spend all day, every day together, what will you ever have to say to each other?
4. Take “me” time.
We all need to decompress.
In a world filled with stress, worry and constant activity, slowing down can be difficult.
It seems when people are single, they are much better at taking the time to take care of themselves.
Then you’re in a relationship, married or have kids. Suddenly, taking care of yourself becomes the last priority.
News flash: You are a better person for all those around you when you’re a little selfish sometimes.
It’s not a bad thing.
Go to yoga, get that massage and take some time to meditate. Go to the park for a run, or simply sit by the ocean and let the rushing waves relax you.
Make time to do whatever works best for you as an individual.
You will be happier and more productive afterward than you would’ve been if you had just tried to power through all the time, ignoring your own needs.
Again, the right guy will understand and support your need for this time to yourself.
He will encourage you to take care of your mind and spirit. Maybe he will even treat you to that spa day you’ve been longing for.
When a man is willing to help facilitate your happiness in a way that has nothing to do with him personally, you have a winner.
5. Build a strong sense of self and maintain it.
All of the above are elements of one overarching mission.
You must be able to stand on your own before you can healthily be with someone else.
Once you're in a relationship, you can't let go of that sense of who you are to bend to the needs of your partner.
Yes, compromise is necessary and needed. But there is a difference between compromising and losing yourself.
Never compromise those core values that make you who you are. Your lover should never ask that of you, either.
Treat a partner as you would a best friend: with respect, compassion and care.
You cannot truly respect another being without also respecting yourself.
Know who you are and what you need, and don't be afraid to ask for it.
Know the right person will need certain things from you in return.
If both of you are happy to give, without any ulterior motives or resentment, congratulations.
You are two independent, separate people who choose to be in each other’s lives. It’s the only way to have a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
You are an amazing, unique, complicated human being.
You deserve a partner who loves you as you are, and allows you your autonomy.
When both of you are confident and secure, you can make the choice to spend your lives together, instead of feeling trapped by some imaginary need to be together.
Hold on to that individuality, no matter what you do. It’ll save you in the long run.
If you stay with your partner, you will maintain a healthy and mature relationship.
If you sadly do not, then at least you have the strength to move on with your life.
Know that you are enough.