"I" versus "we": Loss of Identity in Relationships


Maintaining your individuality and independence while in a relationship can be a challenge.

I will admit that I am guilty of using the royal “we” when asked how my weekend was or what my plans are for the holidays.  After ten years of marriage, the majority of my plans include my husband so it’s understandable that my “I”s have warped into “we”s, right?  But where do you draw the line between partnership and loss of identity?

Over the course of a relationship, it’s common for partners to teach each other about the things they like and expose each other to new music, foods, interests and activities.  While we want to be able to enjoy our time with our partner and it’s fun to have shared interests, it is also healthy to have a balance between “I” and “we” in relationships.  You need a balance between you as an individual and you as half of a couple.  Having your own interests gives you additional outlets and sources of support.  Your individuality is also what keeps you interesting.  It gives you something to talk about and can also boost your self-esteem.


Maintaining your individuality and independence while in a relationship can be a challenge though.  So, here are some tips to help you find that balance and maintain your identity as an individual.


  • Don’t give up all of your friends.  While it is tempting to want to only hang out as a couple with other couples, don’t abandon your old friends.  Some will even go so far as to give up their friends for their partner’s friends.  Your friends play an important role in your life.  They know you as you, not just as part of the couple.  They can help keep you grounded and remind you of the goals and values you had pre-relationship.  They can also be an outlet for stress.  Afterall, who better to complain to than the friend you’ve known for 10 years?
  • Take up an old hobby.  What reminds you of your youth or your single days?  What is something that you used to love to do but you stopped doing because your partner wasn’t into it or because other things, like children, started taking priority?  Maybe it was a pilates class or going on sunrise hikes or Thursday night happy hour with the girls from work.  Whatever it was, try picking it up again.
  • Try something new.  This one might take some thought.  Think of something that you have always wanted to do or try but felt like you couldn’t because your partner wasn’t interested.  Instead of waiting for something your partner wants to do, do what you want to do on your own.  If you feel more comfortable, recruit a friend to try something new with you.
  • Encourage your partner to do his thing too.  Allow your partner some guilt-free time to engage in his own activities.  Whether it’s golf on the weekend or a poker night with the boys, let him have his time without giving him any grief for it.  This not only helps give him an outlet for stress but gives you some time to do things on your own.  The more supportive you are of him having his free time and own interests, the more supportive he will be of you having your own time and interests.