6 Ways To Make Sure You Don't Lose Sight Of Your Own Identity In A Relationship

by Anjali Sareen Nowakowski

Being in a relationship is awesome, but sometimes, it can feel like you're lost in the "coupledom" of it all. Have you been wondering how to focus on yourself while in a relationship? The truth is, it's not that hard, but it is an intentional choice to continue to nourish your own identity instead of just the partnership identity you have.

My husband and I are both very independent souls. We like our time together, of course, but we also like time apart. We have our own activities that have nothing to do with each other, and we create purposeful space to miss each other and do whatever it is we want as individuals.

After getting married, we both realized that there were things we could do to maintain our identities, separate and apart from just being "Mr. and Mrs." Here are some of the things we learned.

1. Spend Some (Or A Lot Of) Time Alone

Being in a relationship doesn't mean you need to follow anyone else's "rules" for what a relationship is supposed to look like. To continue taking care of yourself while you're in a relationship, continue to spend time alone — as much as you need. People are really good at viciously defending their own choices and telling others how to live their lives. But there's no one in your relationship except you and your partner, and no one else's opinion should matter.

This is something my husband and I talk a lot about: our own view on what a relationship between two people (and in our case, a marriage) should be. Just because other people think you need to spend a certain amount of time together or hit a certain number of milestones, doesn't mean you actually need to. You should do what makes you happy.

If you need one specific day a week apart, take it. If you need more, take that, too. I have very high needs for personal space. My husband totally understands this and gives me as much as I need. Taking the alone time you want will help you keep your balance in the relationship, and it'll also help keep you sane. Don't worry about anyone else: Do what you need to do.

2. Don't Forget Your Old Friendships

Of course, at the beginning of a new relationship, it's pretty natural to go "all in," temporarily not be able to think about anything but your partner. If you go through this period, ride it out because it's super fun! Don't worry too much about anything at this stage.

That said, as your relationship grows and deepens, you should be coming back to center a little bit and re-engaging with some of the things you did pre-relationship. One of these things should be connecting with your friends — just your friends from before your relationship, not couple friends the two of you have made.

Spending time with "just the girls" is really necessary for helping to maintain your sense of identity because you'll avoid getting caught in the bubble of just you and your partner all the time. Not only that, but getting back to girl time will be fun!

3. Maintain A Hobby

Maybe you have something you love to do, like arts and crafts. Maybe you go to a book club every month. Or maybe you like to play a sport with a group of friends. If so, make sure you keep up this hobby after you get into a relationship. And if you don't have a hobby already, find one you love!

While it can be tempting to include your new partner in everything you do, resist the urge to allow your hobbies to become your couple hobbies. It's fine to invite your significant other to join you every now and then, but you should have at least a few things you love that have nothing to do with them.

I'm a runner, and I've invited my husband to do a race or two with me. I'm also a CrossFitter, and he's gone to my box for a workout once. But he doesn't run with me or go to CrossFit with me every day — that would be me giving up my personal time during these absolute favorite hobbies of mine.

We support each other's hobbies and activities, while also making sure we have enough space to ourselves to continue to do them alone. So find something you love, and let it be your thing and your thing only.

4. Exercise

My hobbies happen to be exercise-related, but not everyone is like me. Regardless, no matter what your hobbies are, you should find some time to exercise when you're in a relationship.

Exercising is something you and your partner can do together, alone, with friends, by joining a class, etc. It isn't necessarily about getting time away from your partner (although, you can use it for that if you want), but it's more about nourishing both your body and mind. Seriously, the benefits of exercise include everything from a happier mood to a sharper mind.

Exercise can be a big part of any healthy lifestyle, but especially in a relationship, you'll come to value the fact that you are taking care of yourself for you, first and foremost.

5. Stay Focused On Your Own Goals

It's nice to imagine what your life will look like with your partner. You might be daydreaming about marriage and your future together at this fun stage of your relationship. That said, don't forget about your own personal goals. Things like your career and your own desires for your life path should be at the top of your list.

This doesn't mean you need to plan a life totally separate from your partner. It just means that while you're thinking of life together, you should remember to include the things you want to do now, as well as the things you wanted to do before you met them.

6. Communicate With Your Partner

The most important thing you can do to make sure you nourish yourself while in a relationship is to talk to your partner. Talk to them about everything, of course, but especially about the things you need to do to feel like you.

My husband and I talk about everything under the sun, and this is what makes it so easy when I need to tell him I'd really like some time alone or that I am feeling lost in being married.

Although it is exciting to find the love that fits you perfectly, it can also be a difficult transition from singledom to coupledom. I knew my husband was the one for me from the instant we connected, but that doesn't mean I had an easy time going from "Ms." to "Mrs." It was a big change, and I had to get used to it, like anything else.

When you have a partner who is loving and supportive, it should be easy to talk to them about how you want to maintain your identity. They are probably thinking about similar things, and having an open discussion about ways to nourish yourselves will be good for both of you.

Relationships are wonderful, but they are also sometimes easy to get lost in. If you are looking for ways to focus on yourself more while in your relationship, use the strategies on this list. Feeling like yourself will help you be more centered and grounded and, ultimately, will help your relationship, too.

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