Us ❤ 4 years ago.
Today makes 5 years that my boyfriend and I have been together. Our dating anniversary, if you will. And while I fully expect to feel nothing less than ridiculously lovey-dovey as we look back on the memories we've made over that time and the missions we've completed (ha!), I also rejoice in the fact that over the 5 years of our relationship, I've managed to hold onto myself - even if I got lost and found along the way.
Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows just how easy it is to lose yourself in it. You become a "we" instead of a "me" over time. It begins with spending nights together and progressing to him being your preferred person to be around. I don't necessarily see this preference as a bad thing. In fact, I'd argue that one should feel that way about the person they are in a relationship with - they should be your confidant, your best friend, your right hand. I can imagine you'd want to spend as much time as possible with them. And although, in my opinion, it's a natural progression, it's hard to hold onto the "me" in all of it. But it is so, so, important. During my relationship, I definitely lost myself a bit in the "we" of it all, and eventually, with the help of a long distance relationship (did I really just refer to an LDR positively?!), I found myself again, and I'm never letting go.
There are a few tips I've discovered from experience or through various articles I've read along the way. Here's how to not lose yourself in a relationship or how to find yourself again:
Do your own thing just for you. I joke frequently that my boyfriend and I can sit in the same room right next to each other but be in our own little worlds. Writing has always been "my own thing" (& now blogging is included in that!). And C's all about his sports and fantasy leagues recently. Every now and then, C will glance over at my screen for a second or I'll pop my head up and ask about a player being traded, but then we go back to our respective "things" for a little while. I love the comfort of his body next to mine while being able to silently relax with what I love. A 2009 article on Oprah.com has an interesting way of presenting the possibility of "losing yourself in love" and encouraging women to hold on dearly to what we love instead.
Cling to your Secret Single Behavior (SSB). SSBbuilds from the previous tip but takes it a bit farther. In Sex And The City, Carrie's SSB included stacking and eating saltine crackers, while Miranda preferred a sort of homemade paraffin treatment (and of course, Samantha didn't have one!). One of my SSBs is watching old episodes of Sex And The City or Gossip Girl, while making a lengthy list of inspired "wardrobe essentials" and nibbling Borden cheese wheels. And throughout our 5 year relationship, I've continued this behavior, however, strange it may be.
Try hard to compartmentalize the disagreements. So much easier said then done, I tell ya, but if you master this, it can be so beneficial to you and the relationship. In the beginning, any argument with C would completely ruin my entire day until we resolved it, which pretty much ensured I wasn't going to be productive in the meantime. I'd be lying if I said I've mastered the idea of compartmentalizing our disagreements, but I'm truly much better at it after years of practice (not that we argue that much!). So when you've reached a bit of a stalemate with your soulmate, throw yourself into your work, go for a run, or better yet, take the time to engage in your SSB :)
With all of that said, I'm a girl who's been hopelessly lost and gratefully found, and now, I find myself blissfully happy in a long-term relationship and looking forward to another half-decade in love. I'm not sure what our anniversary plans are, but I'm sure we'll spend the day basking in love ❤
Us ❤ Law School graduation 2013.