Maged Morris MACA Losing Yourself in a Relationship The true purpose of any healthy relationship is to become more of Who You Really Are. Through providing a reflection of different aspects of your Self, your mate serves to facilitate your process of developing yourself to a greater degree. Sometimes, your coming together serves as a reminder of Who You Are – sometimes it becomes your Wake Up Call! In all cases, you strive to complete yourself through your being dynamically and romantically involved with another. Essentially, you are being provided with the opportunity to “find your Self” as you grow in love with your partner Why then are so many women doing the opposite, and rather than becoming, they’re actually losing themselves in their unions with men? Why would any woman feel that her total self-denial would lead to her greatest happiness? I believe the origin of this belief system is in our conditioning. We learn early on, through our parents, our peers, our religions, and society at large, that “Woman is here to serve man.” Sometimes, this message appears fully in its subservient splendor. Sometimes, it’s subtle and appears to be just about taking care of the man you love. Either way, it becomes almost a natural tendency for women to place themselves in a role of caretaker – for their children, for their friends, and for their mate. In this manner of giving of yourself to that which you view as more important than you are, you slowly but surely begin to lose your Self. You lose who you truly are – to the process, and to the relationship, and to the person you’re immersing yourself in. Instead of becoming part of a greater whole by merging in a healthy manner, you’re systematically negating yourself out of existence. So you will be lost in your relationship, lost in your man, lost to yourself, lost to your essence. You begin to live your life only for others without any gain to yourself. By gain, I mean growth and evolvement. When you are not growing, you become stagnant and stuck in a slow dying and decaying process. It may take a while before you recognize the signs of your deterioration, but notice if there’s a moment during your day where you give yourself a time-out. Do you commit yourself to stop and think about you, independent of all others? Do you even know what this means anymore? The truth is, if you are operating in this lost mode, nobody who truly cares about you is benefiting in the long-term. They may be getting their immediate needs met, but keep this in mind – while you are lost in them, they don’t actually have YOU! WHAT TO DO The goal in a relationship is to be close and still maintain an identity as a separate person. When people are in an individuated state, they are happier and more optimistic. They have a stronger sense of themselves so they are capable of more intimacy, love and passion in their relationship. The only way to stay yourself in a relationship Maintain your interests. When two people fall in love, they experience themselves and each other as separate individuals with distinct identities, and their own ideas, interests and friends. Their individuality makes them interesting to each other. * Maintain interests that were important to you before becoming involved in your relationship. * Keep up friendships that were important to you when you were single. * Encourage your partner to maintain interests that have always been meaningful to him/her. * Support your partner maintaining friendships that were important to him/her before knowing you. Establish meaningful communication. Two people sharing life together have much to talk about. It is important for them to develop an open and compassionate style of talking and listening to one another. * Keep your communication with your partner meaningful by making sure it is more than from just small talk, superficial chit-chat or practical conversations. * Make time to sit down together and talk about yourselves personally. * Make eye contact with one another when you talk. * Don't just discuss your relationship or the kids; each of you should make a point to talk about him/herself while the other listens. * Listen to your partner with compassion and without judgment; with the same respect you would offer any other human being. WHAT NOT TO DO: These are things for your partner to avoid this: Don't assume you know what your partner is feeling. Just because you are a couple and know each other well, does not mean that you have the same perceptions, thoughts and ideas. And don't assume you know how your partner sees you; we often project our negative self-image on to our loved one and imagine them sharing that viewpoint. * Don't speak as a unit, as "we." * Don't speak for your partner. Don't complete each other's sentences. * Don't assume that there is no more to know about your partner. It does him/her an injustice to assume that there are no more ways that he/she can surprise or delight you. Don't let a role replace real relating. In a fantasy bond, fantasy takes the place of reality. The form of a relationship is substituted for the substance of a relationship. * Don't get caught up in the role of being in a couple and lose track of each of your unique characteristics that went into making your relationship unique. * Don't use conventional symbols of love to take the place of genuine, personal expressions of love. * Don't get into the role of being either the parent or child with each other. Don't give up relating as the two equal adults that you actually are. Don't idealize or denigrate your partner. When a fantasy bond first develops, partners tend to idealize each other. But as they become aware of one another's shortcomings, they over-react because their fantasy is being disrupted. They become cynical and disillusioned, and critical of each other. Neither idealization nor cynicism has a place in a relationship between two adults who see each other as real people with positive attributes, amusing idiosyncrasies and personal limitations and flaws. * Don't change your partner so that you can see him/her as perfect. * Don't try to avoid seeing your partner's faults. * Don't punish your partner for not living up to your idealization of him/her. * Don't exaggerate your partner's negative traits because they shatter your fantasy of who they are. Don't stop your loving behaviors. With a fantasy bond, partners treat each other as extensions of themselves and they start to take one another for granted. They withhold the desirable qualities in themselves that their partner especially appreciates. * Don't take your partner for granted; express your appreciation for who they are and for ways they are loving and kind to you. * Don't withhold personal characteristics and behaviors that your partner especially values. * Don't let a fantasy of being in love take the place of actions that actually express love.