9 Painful Signs You've Lost Yourself In Your Relationship

Photo: PeopleImages.com - Yuri A / Shutterstock
woman leaning on man

"Losing yourself in a relationship" is a trite phrase thrown around all the time. But I’ve noticed that while people might talk about it, they don’t deal with it — evidenced by how often it happens.

When you lose yourself, you begin acting in very unappealing ways that don't always match up with who you are as a person.

The signs of feeling lost in a relationship tend to creep up on us, making figuring out how to find yourself again all the more difficult.

I know this intimately because I see it every day in my work.

And because it’s happened to me.

And after a lot of rational self-examination, I’ve come to the depressing conclusion that I’ve done exactly the opposite of what I teach, and that thing is: I totally and completely lost myself in my marriage — which led to its eventual demise.

I can look back on many failed relationships of my own and nearly pinpoint the exact time it happened, but this time, the terrifying realization has dawned on me in real time that I’m screwing up.

That’s why I had to write about this, both to help you lovely readers and to make myself a rough guide — a roadmap — so that this never, ever happens again.

RELATED: 10 Things A Good Guy Won't Do To The Woman He Loves

Here are nine painful signs that you've lost yourself in your relationship:

1. You’ve lost touch with your own goals, passions, and life purpose

Remember when you were so full of hope? Feel like that’s been crushed and you’ve let your life’s purpose fall by the wayside?

That’s a big red flag that you’ve allowed yourself to take the backseat in your relationship.

2. Instead of speaking up about your desires, you let them fall to the wayside

I’m not sure why sometimes it seems so important to forgo what you want for what you think someone else wants in your relationship.

Do we do it in favor of … approval? Not rocking the boat?

Maybe because like hoovering down an entire bag of Doritos, ignoring what you really want feels great at the moment.

When you ignore things like your desires and wants that are messy and take hard work, you can put your head in the sand.

You don’t have to do anything about them. You can go on like it’s all not happening until you’re so overtaken with regret and resentment you just can’t stand it any longer.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Foster The Self-Awareness It Takes To Make A Relationship Successful

3. You’re only going through the motions

For most, life goes something like waking up, taking kids to school, going to work, dealing with the kids, sleep.

Carve out a few minutes of quality time on the weekend. Rinse. Repeat.

This probably wasn’t at all what you pictured when you were a kid and you plotted out the way you thought your life would go.

If it wasn’t bad enough, your sense of humor seems to be on hiatus as well.

4. You’re living a worried, fear-based life

You’ve allowed the creepy “what ifs” to lurk around and rule your life.

“What if” you die in that fiery crash? Better not buy that motorcycle.

“What if” you never get famous and make doing your art? Better not even bother to sketch anything.

“What if your spouse doesn’t take the right exit on the freeway? You could be late!” The horror.

“What if…” “What if…” “What if…”

It’s exhausting, and it’s a trap. Fear and worry tell you that you have control when you really have zero control.

That groundlessness is both terrifying and freeing, depending on the amount of joy you’re allowing into your life. 

RELATED: The Simple Psychology Test That Reveals How Well You Know Yourself

5. You’re controlling with the people around you

Even though the reality of your daily life is that you’re bored to tears and working at half the level of joy you could be, you’re weirdly attached to it all, so it’s vitally important that everyone else act how you expect.

Perhaps because you don’t even know who you are anymore, but you’re pretty convinced you’re right about how everyone else is.

If someone else were to be happy or follow their own bliss, it would force you to consider your own lack of the same. Ouch.

RELATED: 6 Things You Need To Do Now In Order To Find Yourself

6. You attend to everyone else's needs first, which is eating away at you

Except it’s not really silent since everyone around you can sense the toxic resentment that seeps through your pores like sewage in a leach field.

To everyone around you, you come off like a long-suffering, put-upon martyr. Martyrdom might work for religious figures, but sacrificing yourself for your relationship isn’t good for you and it’s the death knell for your partner's attraction to you.

When you don’t take responsibility for the fact that you’ve let your own light go out, it’s easy to look around and decide that it’s someone else’s fault. This is both a cop-out and a way to absolve yourself of responsibility for your own happiness.

RELATED: 10 Things Every Child Needs To Hear From Their Parents To Live A Great Life

7. Your emotional range is blunted, and you're resentful

Joy and true happiness are fleeting. You might not be anxious and depressed (many are), but you’re flirting with them at least.

Unfortunately, your ability to experience anger is probably bubbling there right below the surface at any time, ready to jump out and hurt someone in its path.

8. You use anything to fill the void

Since real joy feels like such a long way off that it’s practically unobtainable, it’s tempting to look for something… anything to fill the gnawing hole in your gut and your soul.

Temporary relief, like losing whole days to Netflix marathons, eating yourself out of house and home, drinking, and shopping is at least relief, however temporary it might be.

RELATED: 10 Things You're Doing Because You're Finally Starting To Love Yourself

9. You feel like you've sold yourself out

“This isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” is pretty much your mantra.

Remember those hopes and dreams I was talking about before? You wake up every morning with a vague sense that “it’s not gonna happen.” Real talk: if you keep going in this sleep-walk, zombie, half-life direction you’re headed in, it’s not gonna happen.

Unless you make a change. Now.

You know when they do the safety demonstration on planes, they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first?

You know, because you’ll die if you try to help everyone else before yourself? Losing yourself is like throwing your own oxygen mask out the window and then trying to share your partner’s mask.

Letting yourself get lost in your relationship is claustrophobic, toxic for both of you, and impossible long term.

RELATED: 9 Daily Habits Of Couples Who Stay Married (And Happy!) For Life

Elizabeth Stone is an author, dating coach, and personal development coach who helps women restore themselves in order to improve their relationships.