When Holding Onto Him Means Losing Parts Of Yourself

How to stop reaching for the wrong thing.

Last updated on Nov 05, 2023

Woman fading away, while trying to hold on to someone that was never hers  Mikolette, Jacob Lund | Canva

When you first met him, he was everything to you! He filled you up and left you feeling like a whole new you. His love made you WHOLE! You couldn’t imagine not having him in your life. You spent all your time together, and it was fun. He was perfect in every way.

Sure, you lost touch with your friends and didn’t hang out with them anymore. But that was OK because he was in your world.

Then, gradually, little by little, things started to sour. He complained about you more and more, argued, and criticized you.


You tried harder to please him, but nothing was good enough. Something always upset him, the way you dress or that the laundry wasn’t done how he liked it. When he started putting restrictions on your money, you tried harder and harder to delight him again! But nothing worked. Things began so wonderful. Now, you haven't felt good in a long, long time.

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Three signs you're holding onto him — but losing parts of yourself.

1. You notice you have changed

You look around and see that your life is dramatically different ... you've changed.

You used to play tennis on Saturday (doubles) with your friends, but you don’t do that anymore. You used to love to go shopping with your sister, but you barely see your family anymore. You stopped sharing the details with your family because they told you to leave him a long time ago.

2. You have lost your world

It hits you like a brick. You've been living in his world all this time and lost parts of yourself along the way.

You do love him, and you don’t want to lose him. Yet, the stress, the arguing, and the loneliness are starting to take their toll on your looks and how you feel on the inside. You feel stuck between loving him and, at the same time, feeling alone with no one to talk to about it all.


But, though you feel lonely now, you feel like you’d be lost in the world if you lost him! Your biggest fear is that you’ll end up alone! You fear that no one else will love you because, bottom line, you believe you’re not good enough, no matter how much you keep trying to make things right.

​ Do you recognize this cycle? Does this resonate with you? Dr. Suzanne Lachman of Psychology Today, says that when you have low self-esteem, that state of being becomes familiar and you gravitate towards it, recreating it over and over in your relationships.

3. You don't know what to do

How do you start over again? Do you have to leave him?

Lindsey Holmes, in The Huffington Post, says that self-acceptance can lead to great satisfaction in your life. That said, damaged self-esteem doesn't repair itself overnight. The first step is to recognize that you deserve to feel better (loved and supported).


Start by being mindful. Practice being kind to yourself mentally.

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Here are three steps that will help you begin your healthy journey back to yourself.

1. Stand tall

Yes, I mean literally stand erect. Do it often. When you do, take a breath and pay attention to your body. Practice this when you're alone, and then practice standing tall when he raises his voice or gives you that critical glance.

2. Question his criticism

Just because he says something doesn't make it true. Stop buying into his logic. Learn to disconnect yourself from the scenario. This reduces your anxiety and frustration. Then, observe him — like you're listening to him for the first time. Notice how unhappy he is as a person. How uptight he is. That's on him, not you. If necessary, mentally protect yourself. Visualize yourself surrounded by Plexiglas so you feel nothing from his hurtful words.


3. Change your response

Practice changing yourself from the inside out by refusing to focus your attention on his negative comments. Don't react to his negative comments. Instead, focus on how you think and feel. Practice this over and over. For example, if he says, "You’re so stupid!", silently say in your mind (not out loud) — "Actually, I am logical." Or, "I'm smart." Or, "I'm a good person."

Immediately translate his negative statements into a POSITIVE thought about yourself (in your mind). You'll find the exercise entertaining and almost funny the more you do it. The real deal is that you'll begin to build inner strength and awareness. You'll rediscover who you are. You'll remember your value, which you carry inside you. He does not decide your worth.

If you ask him for what you need and he throws it back in your face to start an argument, recognize that this man you "love so much" doesn't care enough in return to give your request the time of day. If he turns whatever you say around and blames you, in some way, making you explain your actions to him ... that is manipulation.

Will a man like this ever really make you happy?


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Are you willing to lose yourself entirely to hold onto a man like this?

It's time for you to reclaim those lost parts of yourself so that you can look in the mirror and like yourself again. So, you can hear yourself laugh and see yourself smile once more.

You deserve better. And, please know — if he were Mr. Wonderful, he would TREASURE YOU! A real man doesn’t emotionally intimidate his partner. Nor, does he ask you to sacrifice yourself as a measure of your love for him.


When you find the real Mr. Right, you'll discover he loves you despite your flaws! Remember: No one person is "perfect." What’s perfect is when Mr. Right loves you for YOU and accepts your imperfections ... and you do the same for him.

When you like yourself, you choose healthier partners who like themselves, and who love you more!

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Margot Brown, LMFT, PsyD, is the author of Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On Or Move Out, a guide for communication between couples.