How to Keep Your Sense of Self in a Relationship

I’m beyond excited to welcome Chelsea from The New Wifestyle back to the blog. This month she’s talking about something that’s so important: keeping YOU in your relationship.

What struck me the most about this piece is how grateful I was for someone else to write it! The beau and I were in a long distance relationship for so many years (8.5 to be exact…) that we’re sometimes too good at maintaining our sense of selves. Its just always how we’ve worked- fiercely independent. When it comes to advice on this topic then, I’ve got nothing! Thankfully, Chelsea has a powerful story and three oh-so-practical steps you can take…like now.

be sure to check out her website for my post on keeping your sex life passionate, no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship.

relationships are an exciting, exhausting, wonderful, confusing, and beautiful thing to take part in. it’s not uncommon when you’re in the beginning stages of a relationship to feel all those mushy, gushy, intoxicating feelings of wanting to spend every waking moment together. i get it. i was there too when my husband and i first started dating 8 years ago.

a few weeks after we started dating, he left to travel and study abroad in the czech republic. it was hard in many ways but also sort of great because it allowed us to figure out how to communicate without those intoxicating physical feelings always participating. the distance also meant that most of my free time between college classes and finding out which gatorade mixes best with vodka (it’s lemon-lime by the way), i could spend on my own hobbies and interests.

we got engaged our senior year and after graduation, we packed everything that could fit in my black camry and moved from colorado to oregon so i could get my master’s degree in social work. it was here that i started losing my sense of self. we knew no one in portland at the time so we spent most of our time together. it was great because this allowed us to build an even stronger relationship without the influence of our respective families but we also started becoming dependent on one another.

i barely noticed that some of my hobbies, like the highly-skilled art of paint-by-number weren’t happening anymore and going to concerts fell to the wayside. i was raised to be an independent, resourceful woman and i was losing that piece of me. i believe there is value in creating your ‘we’ as a couple but it’s equally important not to lose the ‘me.’

after all, my husband fell in love with me – the quirky, opinionated, bookworm, anxiety-prone, creative woman. i mean, i’m not the coolest but i’m pretty cool so i don’t want to lose me. i want to be an enhanced version as i move through life. i also fell in love with a super tall guy who loves adventure, loves his mama and loves that he’s from texas. there was no “us” when we met so it’s important not to lose the part of who we are as individuals.

i am a firm believer that the best partnerships, married or not, involve two people who are solid as individuals that come together to make an awesome team. we both wanted to get back to that spot because as much as we loved spending time together and feeling close, we didn’t want to meld into one blob of a thing (you know those couples who i’m talking about). let’s get to it because i know you’re a badass woman and i don’t want you to get lost in your relationship.

3 ideas on how to keep your sense of self in a relationship:

  1. set your own goals. i know not everyone loves goals so call it your dreams or desires but whatever you call them, create individual ones. i am a big fan of relationship goals and making sure you are growing together as a couple so have those too but don’t neglect what you want to personally accomplish. have you always wanted to get scuba certified? go back to school? open a restaurant? run a 5k? learn a new language? set goals/dreams/desires that feed directly into your own soul because they are equally as important. you dreams/desires deserve to come to fruition so do not negate that!
  2. maintain your own friendships. you might share many mutual friends but sometimes you just need to throw your hair back, grab a drink and dance it out with your girlfriends. this one was hard for me because most everyone we met became our mutual friend in this quirky city. then it hit me one day that just because we both considered a person/couple mutual friends, i was still able to hang out with him/her on my own. this has been very helpful in stepping back from my relationship and having conversations where i use less ‘we’ and am able to focus on me.
  3. take time for yourselves. sometimes it’s counterintuitive to think that if you want to have a better relationship, you need to spend time apart but it’s true. when’s the last time you’ve taken time for yourself and for soul searching? this means the phone down, the computer off and a chance to remember that you like hanging out with yourself. i’ve found that taking walks, focused crafty time and even coloring have all helped me connect more with who i am and what i’m about. make time for this solitude.

i’ve found that my marriage is more enjoyable, fun and passionate when i remember to take care of myself first while still making our relationship a top priority. strong, caring and confident women who embrace who we are make better lovers anyways…or something along those lines!

Connect with Chelsea on Twitter + Facebook + Instagram

P.S. Don’t forget to say hi to me over on Chelsea’s page.

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