10 Signs You’ve Lost Your Identity and Autonomy in Your Relationship
The early days of any relationship will have you swept up in the romance and thrill of spending every waking minute together, experiencing all the excitement of blending two lives into one. But at some point, unless you set some boundaries in place and keep sight of who you are as an individual, you may just find yourself identifying as one half of a whole. To help shed some light, we’ve enlisted an expert to share the 10 red flags that will help you identify if you might be losing your autonomy in your relationship.
You feel an overwhelming need to please your partner — at any costIt’s one thing to want to make your partner happy out of a natural desire to bring joy to their lives, but it’s another when that desire becomes an overwhelming compulsion and you risk foregoing your own passion and sense of self.
“You may find yourself caught in a perpetual cycle of trying to find out how to please and appease your partner,” says therapist Alyson Jones. “This perfectionistic desire to please leaves you feeling unsatisfied and inadequate. You fear you are not enough and you begin to worry that no matter how hard you try, you are unable to please your partner in the way you wish you could.”
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You are constantly thinking about your partnerThis may sound sweet, but if your mind is consumed with thoughts of your partner — how much room is left over to focus on yourself? Trouble thinking about anything but your partner and their needs is a major red flag that you’re losing your autonomy in your relationship. Alyson Jones explains: “Your thoughts go to your partner constantly and you spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out what they want or need. You have trouble getting them off your mind, and you find yourself less present and attentive to other things in your life.”
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You begin to question your own feelingsWhen we begin to lose our identity in a relationship, we tend to put our own emotions on the backburner, as we prioritize only what our partner is feeling.
“You may find you become confused and uncertain about your own feelings, as what you feel or want becomes increasingly more vague,” says Alyson Jones. “You feel responsible for your partner’s feelings and respond in ways that you think will help your partner — rather than checking in with what you feel about a situation and what you might need.”
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You are always on your partner’s scheduleMaking time for yourself and enjoying the flexibility of compromise when scheduling as a couple is all part of a healthy relationship. If you’ve lost your ability to prioritize your own time, it’s time to reevaluate your situation.
“You structure your time around your partner’s schedule to be available 24/7,” explains Aylson Jones. “You organize your life around your partner’s needs and wishes, and begin to let go of the things that might get in the way of you “being there” for them if they want or need you.”
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Your priorities and interests change dramaticallyIt’s one thing to grow with your partner – but it’s another thing entirely to assume their interests and priorities as your own.
“You give up your own hobbies, friends, or even family if your partner is not interested or does not approve in some manner,” says Jones. “You may have enjoyed playing a sport or belonging to some group, but you find yourself letting go of the people and activities that used to bring you pleasure.”
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You no longer feel comfortable expressing yourselfYou should never feel anything but encouraged and supported when it comes to expressing yourself in any relationship.
“You no longer express your own opinions, thoughts, or values out of fear that it might upset or offend your partner,” says Jones. “You will notice that you begin to use your partner as the focal point in your life. All decisions and directions are measured by how you think your partner will feel or what opinion they may have about something.”
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You are always the one to sacrificeA relationship is all about the give-and-take. If the balance of compromise in your partnership is out of whack, you may want to consider this a red flag.
“Compromise is a part of every relationship — but when it is only you who does the sacrificing you are probably losing a sense of self in the process. It might start with something small, like what show to watch on Netflix, and it may appear insignificant at first — but then it becomes a pattern. This can escalate all the way up to you sacrificing your career or other people in your life to please your partner.”
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You’re on an emotional rollercoasterCatering to someone else’s wants and needs on a full-time basis can wreak havoc on your emotional health.
“You will notice that your mood becomes dysregulated, as you begin to doubt your own value and your own abilities,” says Jones. “Your nervous system is on alert most of the time and you suffer from heightened anxiety or symptoms of depression. You are not able to relax in the relationship because you feel you can never please your partner and you blame yourself for this.”
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You make excuses for your partnerWhen the relationship involves you constantly footing the blame for everything that happens between you and your partner, even going so far as making excuses for their behaviour, this is a red flag that should not be ignored.
“You overlook your partner’s behaviours,” explains Jones. “You begin to sacrifice your own moral code to make excuses for your partner and support them in behaviours you previously found inappropriate. You may even find yourself involved in things that go against your moral compass as you lose sight of your own ethical standards and individual autonomy.”
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Your boundaries become blurredClear boundaries are key in any form of relationship. Without them, you put yourself at risk of being taken advantage of or put into situations that are beyond your comfort zone.
“You don’t want to say “no” to your partner, and you are afraid to set limits with them,” says Jones. “You fear you will lose them if you say no, and you find yourself going along with what they want despite your own misgivings. You concentrate on what your partner wants or will accept, rather than on what you want or will accept.”
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