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Relationship Tips: Don't Lose Yourself In Love

Are you giving up things you used to love or trying to change your personality for your guy? You might be losing yourself. Here's how to avoid that.

Anytime you have a new boyfriend, you'll obviously have less time for your old activities (C'mon, 7AM spin class versus snuggling in bed with a cutie?). But, sometimes, the changes you make aren't so benign, and a core part of your personality atrophies.

Many women unconsciously lose their best selves in the throes of falling in love, and that can doom the bond. "You feel unfulfilled because you're not being yourself, and it's a burden for a guy to feel like he's the center of your life," says therapist Martha Baldwin Beveridge, author of Loving Your Partner Without Losing Your Self.

Could You Be Lost?

There are trademark signs of a girl who's gone missing within: She only makes plans with a plus-one, she minimizes the traits she doesn't think her man digs, she always answers questions with "Well, we think...," and she watches/reads/listens to stuff her guy is into, but he doesn't reciprocate. These habits are harder to spot in yourself, so solicit help from a loving, honest friend. "Ask what she thinks of your relationship and if there are facets of you she's not seeing anymore," suggests psychotherapist John Amodeo, PhD, author of The Authentic Heart. Also, if you avoid telling a guy about certain hobbies or friends, you're likely suppressing something. Another sign you're stifling your identity: You think the relationship has saved you from a blahsville life. "You should be excited about new love, but thinking he's perfect and throwing yourself into it with no real foundation is unrealistic," says Amodeo.

Why It Happens

Getting too wrapped up in a dude is common. "Women get satisfaction from nurturing the relationship itself," says Beveridge. So you engage in activities (military-history lectures!) and behaviors (skipping your weekly dinner with the girls or feigning excitement over basketball) that aren't typically you because you're genuinely buzzed about spending time with him. The challenge is learning to pick plans where you both like the activity, not just the company.

Bring Yourself Back

You've heard it before, but cultivating your own interests makes you incredibly alluring. "Women overestimate the importance of saying yes," says Beveridge. Guys value independence, so say no thanks to an invite from him that you'd never accept from a pal, and while he may be surprised at first, he'll also be psyched that you don't need to be attached at the hip 24/7. Next, think back through your pre-boyfriend days, and reprioritize the most satisfying parts (invite him along if he's curious). Over time, abandoning experiences that seem frivolous (say, going dancing if you love being the center of attention) chips away at your quality of life. "When you dive into your interests, you'll be happier, which makes you a better girlfriend overall," says Amodeo.

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