Why It's Important To Define Yourself Before Letting A Relationship Define You

by Ellen Scheidt

A relationship should be a union between two separate people — not one person who defines the other. Over time, the two of you may fuse in the way that “Kimye” and “Tomkat” and “Brangelina” all have before, but if the foundation of your relationship is not first built from two individuals, you will likely face some turmoil in the near future.

Don’t allow yourself to be defined as simply “so-and-so’s girlfriend.” Yes, he is likely a big part of your identity, but if you strip that away, what is left? Do you have your own friends and hobbies that you cultivate separately from your partner?

We have all met “those girls” who jump from one relationship to another because they don’t feel validated on their own. Their life goal is to find someone who can take care of them and who can provide a cushy life. These women may seem happy, but they certainly don’t have the upper hand in their relationships. If something goes awry, they are left with nothing but panic and an identity crisis. Don’t let that happen to you.

If someone at a bar asks you about what you do for fun, don’t immediately start talking about school or work. It’s all very interesting, I'm sure, but you should strive to be able to answer the question organically and honestly. Sit and think about what makes you feel fulfilled. Is it photography, or writing or nonprofit work? What defines you other than your job and relationship?

The healthiest relationships are those that involve two different individuals with different ideas and interests. You should be able to share your love for books and skiing with your boyfriend, while he can teach you about his interests. This will both add depth to your relationship and expand both of your horizons. It will allow the two of you to grow together.

No one should be the superior party in the relationship. Both of you should be able to recognize the other’s individuality and be supportive without being demeaning or condescending. Our society has striven for so long to have equality in all aspects of life, so why would you stop with something as important as your own relationship?

Be your own person, and let your significant other be his or her own person as well. Your relationship will be much healthier and stronger. Don’t start a new relationship if you aren’t able to define yourself without someone else.

Photo via We Heart It