Of course, things are going to change when you start dating someone or when you get married. But you don't want to look back 20 years and realize that you've completely lost who you are in that relationship. That special someone in your life is with you for a reason; your unique quirks and your odd way of thinking. Don't let the reasons why they love you disappear; no matter who you are with, keep these 7 things in mind to keep you — you.
No matter what sort of relationship you are in, don't totally lose yourself in love. Why should your boyfriend, husband, or even your children change you so much that you don't keep up with the things you loved to do when you were single? Granted, your time is probably going to be split between more people, but you can still find time to do what makes you, you. The artist in you might not have time to complete that 40-foot canvas, but wouldn't your bedroom love a framed sketch you quickly penciled out while your little one slept? Take 15 minutes a day, or an hour on the weekend specifically for "you" time. Don't let other chores or errands get in the way.
2. Say no
Forget the idea that saying no is rude. Being able to say no is empowering. Don't lose yourself in too many priorities, don't get too caught up in it all, and don't let yourself be walked over. Let yourself be heard. Though you love your partner, don't buy into the idea that you need to agree with everything they say in order to be loved. Constantly saying yes causes your thoughts and opinions to be pushed aside to make room for somebody else. Any relationship is going to need compromise, but it doesn't mean you can't speak up for yourself.
3. Listen up
No matter the situation, don't ignore your gut. Yes, there will be times when you overreact, but don't ignore your emotions. If you fear rejection, realize this relationship isn't going to automatically end the same way your last one did. That being said, it also doesn't mean you can't learn from your past. You can still protect yourself against further hurt by setting boundaries in this new relationship. Listen to what your emotions are telling you and cope. Communicate with your partner how you are feeling and explain why you might need some more distance and more conversations to help quell your fears. Those experiences helped make you who you are now; learn from it all.
Take what you say seriously. Don't exaggerate, don't let yourself be taken lightly, and don't spread lies. Be the kind of person who others want to listen to. Be specific and clear in your communication, which, by the way, is a huge part of being in a relationship. Set concrete expectations about specific situations and circumstances to make sure your partner understands what you expect from your relationship.
5. Respect yourself
Buying into the idea that you can show love by lying, or committing to something you aren't comfortable with is a lie. Don't 'prove' your love by putting yourself in a situation you aren't okay with. Put yourself first when it comes to respect.
6. Keep some support around
Don't lose who you are in a relationship, and don't let go of those who support you. Your friends and family are part of who you are; they shouldn't disappear when you tie the knot. Ideally, your partner will fit nicely into your support group to give added strength. If that's not the case, don't allow a relationship to let these people get washed out of your life.
Keeping boundaries will help you still be you, no matter who you are with. Promise yourself to keep your morals, your faith, your beliefs, and standards consistent. So much of who you are is what you believe in. Of course, these beliefs can change, but keeping solid boundaries and standards will make sure you change along with it all, instead of drifting away from yourself.
A healthy relationship should deepen your characteristics, not change them. Be the person they fell in love with. You shouldn't need to change who you are just for love.
Emily is putting her English and Humanities degree to use editing and writing all over the world. Trying to see all 7 world wonders (while visiting as many countries as she can in between), Emily loves wandering alleyways, beautifully photographed food, stumbling upon impromptu flea and food markets. She can usually be found camera in hand, munching on a street food and never has her headphones out of reach.