As an amateur dater, I’ve oftentimes found myself in relationships I wasn’t ever supposed to be in from the start. Relationships with men who were not in the least bit compatible with me, but who made my Mom proud, or my best friends super jealous. Relationships with idiot boys who pushed all the wrong buttons, but whom I so desperately wanted to conquer and change. I was the united colors of dating, trying everything out for size because I was still discovering what I really wanted.
The truth is, I’m not the only one who has willingly bent over backwards in relationships. Folks like us are the reason relationship quotes float around social media feeds, spouting eloquent words of “love yourself to love another” and “the only important relationship is the one you have with yourself”— it’s a necessary reminder for us lost 20s-something souls.
But there is hope! As I’m about to share the 5 tips I’ve undertaken in an attempt to reverse that pattern where I date any rando, and completely lose my sense of identity in the process of placating and pleasing.
HOW TO NOT LOSE YOUR SELF IN A RELATIONSHIP
1. Pick a passion.
I was recently reading something that caught my attention — something about the more you talk about the problem, the more you keep it active in your vibration. and that in order to deactivate it. you have to activate elsewhere; focus on your career, your passions, instead of obsessing over said problem. and then through this magical crack of least resistance, aka the crack of most allowance, love comes in.
I have so many friends who obsess over finding love, or keeping the love they have. Obsession ain’t sexy, it’ll also destroy before it can build. Just like the fingers that clasp tightly onto a handful of sand, love can fall away if clung onto too tightly with no moment of letting go and trusting in something greater than your own crazy mind.
But in an effort to let go, so many people let go of who they are — one day they’re punk rock with a tough-as-nails attitude, and the next day they’re in gauchos, hair in braids, preaching One Love. Find what you enjoy, when nothing is at stake, and sustain it whilst with another.
Focus on your passions, and the things that make you happy! You don’t have any? Read my BLOG about uncovering your purpose and get cracking! It’s never too late.
2. Be the source of your own happiness.
I was recently in a Hot Spring in Montana with the ultimate happy dude — a generator of his own happiness, so much so it makes me sick! I watched him float around the slimy “natural hot water straight from the core of the earth” communal tub with a huge smile on his face. And it hit me. Homeboy is happy in his own skin, floating around, living life, breathing air. Unfortunately somewhere along the way I managed to complicate my own sense of happiness. Somehow I began to think that perhaps him cuddling up to me and telling me I was the most perfect person ever would make me happy, would validate my plight through my turbulent 20s.
Yes, it would be nice and temporarily soothing to hear some romantic and poetic words of validation come out of another human’s mouth, but that’s silly and flat and proof that I’m dependent on another person for my self-esteem. So instead I floated around slime in bliss WITHOUT needing any external validation, realizing that the key to keeping my sense of self, and happiness, is going to come from inside of me.
I got out of the goop and into the shower with a real passion for myself that night.
3. Keep your pandora playlist!
Just because he hates Ariana Grande does not mean you’re not compatible. There is, however, a difference between sacrifice (i.e. adding his favorite Nirvana playlist) and betrayal of self (i.e. no longer playing nor listening to nor singing in the shower any of your favorite super-girly-poppy tunes). Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself.
This can also apply to your wardrobe, and your use of certain slang words and terminology. I’m not saying your art and style preferences are not allowed to evolve or change, don’t be weird, I’m merely suggesting that forcefully altering your likes and dislikes to groove with another is not going to help you find yourself in a relationship. That’s all.
4. Don’t avoid talking about things that matter to you!
So many times I’d avoid the tough conversations. The ones I knew would take effort, patience, and me having to actually listen to a man’s silly points of view. Or potentially causing friction, a space for imperfection. But a relationship is about connection, going outside of yourself and pretending to understand another human. So don’t back down from sharing who you really are, and what makes you YOU.
Ultimately TRUTH is the greatest source of joy and happiness and uniqueness, and if dude-bro can’t handle the truth and you’re thinking of keeping him longer than a weekend, then it’s worth him finding out now.
Talk about it!
5. Remember that Men are NOT like Women!
Who knew? Men have different brains and modes of analysis! Wait, they even communicate differently and hold separate belief systems!?
Well no wonder merging worlds is no walk in the park.
The best thing I ever did for myself, after countless failed attempts at making the other half act more like me and getting super frustrated in the interim, is trade being “right” for the realization that men are less spiritually evolved and need time, support, and usually a good kick in the ass by the Universe in the form of an ex-wife, a job-firing, or a large speeding ticket.
6. Have a support system!
While your significant other may become your bestie, the person you become most vulnerable with, and maybe even your future baby daddy — it’s super important to create your own world. Be your own pillar, unto yourself. My Mom, or maybe it was Dr. Phil, said that two strong beams can create a foundation, not some lame-ass intertwined mess of a concrete slab. Nope, it was my therapist, verbatim.
Basically, find your own world while in a relationship. Develop your support group of friends with whom you share common goals, visions, and gossip patterns. Men won’t understand why you’re emotionally stewing over Gwen and Gavin’s divorce — nothing like a good girlfriend! Mine have saved me from countless breakdowns, freak-outs, and psychotic breaks. They should be given awards and rewarded with Magic Mike-like lap dances in the after-life.
Relationships aren’t easy, but they’re worth every minute. Even the ones that don’t work out quite the way you planned….they are perfect in their imperfection if you choose to grow from them and refuse to repeat the unnecessary behavioral patterns you adopted. And while most of my 20s has been spent figuring out how to juggle them, I can confidently reflect and thank each relationship for showing me more and more of who I am, and what I want in this special trip of life.