3 Things You Need To Remember To Avoid Losing Yourself In A Relationship

This is article #23 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

In this week’s article, Steve gets into the dangers of making someone too great of priority early on and “losing yourself in love”. A must-read for the helpless romantic, heart on your sleeve types out there. Enjoy!


(Photo: Nattu)

Enter Stephen

We all have dreamy fantasies of completely losing ourselves when we fall in love.

For some of us it’s more than idle daydreaming – it’s a routine we go through again and again.

It’s natural to become consumed with a new partner – especially when that shiny new relationship bliss is still fresh, making the other areas of our lives seem like just an empty way to kill time until we’re back in the arms of that special person again.

I like the initial mania of a new relationship. But it can also be a time when you need your more rational head to prevail, especially if you notice other areas of your life deteriorating because of your fixation on your currently blossoming romance.

As Matt has said before: “The most dangerous time in a relationship is the moment you decide you like someone”.

You can throw yourself down the rabbit hole for six months, watch your career and friendships suffer – and then if something goes wrong and you find yourself single again, you suddenly have to pick up the shattered pieces of a life you let fall apart.

This sounds like a killjoy article I know – and I may risk a kicking for going against the poetic ideal of being a hapless slave to our passions when it comes to love.

But here’s the thing: You can still charge into something with all your heart AND keep your life in order.

In fact, this is precisely the healthy attitude that sets up the relationship for a good future, instead of leaving you simply chasing short-term bouts of romance to hide from other areas of your life. When you keep this healthy attitude, you’ll find yourself more attractive to your partner, you’ll feel less needy, and you’ll have fulfillment because you bring massive value to the relationship.

So here are three things you need to be strong enough to not completely lose yourself in the early stages of a relationship:

1. Derive fulfillment from multiple areas of your life

People tend to over-invest in relationships too early when they don’t have fulfillment in other areas of their lives.

They get addicted to that early relationship stage and put the ‘initial romance feeling’ on a pedestal – usually because they’d rather get lost in one relationship after another than deal with other problems in their lives.

Resist the temptation to immediately make relationships your full-time project – it puts too much pressure on it to succeed and scares the other person off. The best way to be an incredible partner is to be self-fulfilled and not rely on someone else to be your only source of fun and fulfillment.

Just because something is enjoyable and the most fulfilling area of your life, it doesn’t mean it’s the only good thing for you in the long-term.

If you need to diagnose whether you’ve lost yourself in a relationship, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are many of your close friends constantly complaining that you’ve gone off the radar and never see them anymore?
  • Is your career/work starting to fall behind and are old priorities taking a complete backseat? Are you letting others down due to poor performance?
  • Do you tend to obsess about every interaction with your new partner and worry to an unhealthy level about how they feel towards you?

If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to get back on track and re-adjust your priorities to avoid losing other important areas of your life outside your new relationship.

2. Be strong enough to speak your mind and set terms

In the early stages, your instinct is to be agreeable, and even let important conflicts slide because you’re so infatuated with a guy. But that urge can lead to a lot of trouble later on.

Be strong-minded enough to communicate what you need early on and state your expectations – it’s the easiest and quickest way to find out if it will work in the long-term.

3. Be a realist

Relationships are always incredible to begin with. Which is why it’s important not to get ahead of yourself in the early stages and be aware of how little you actually know about this person yet.

Remember, for the first few months they are still on their best behaviour.

In the early stages of a relationship, it’s easy to get hooked because you have ATTRACTION and COMFORT. And the combination of the two (especially if you’ve gone from being single and having neither of these things) can make you sink into the relationship and become hooked on the enjoyment of it.

But it’s important to remember that you still have an essential element to develop: CONNECTION.

That’s the part you have to wait and allow to develop. To avoid losing yourself then, be a realist and remind yourself that even if you are totally smitten with this person and feel completely comfortable with them, you still don’t know them on a deep level, and there is still all kinds of potential for you to learn things about them that might make them less than ideal as a long-term partner.

This isn’t pessimism – it’s just realizing that you have a lot to learn about this person yet, and to be aware of the potential for things still not to work out in the longer term.

Be careful not to assume you are made for each other too quickly. See things as they really are right now and not how you wish they will be in the future.

I know this can all sound negative and like I’m taking the shine off of the initial romance phase. But that’s only because it’s a common moment when people tend to let their life go off the rails if they’re not careful.

And a relationship should never derail you – if it does, it’s either because you need to balance your priorities, or it’s because you’re taking on a passenger (i.e. your new partner) who is only going to cause more problems later on down the line.

That’s why keeping on track and moving forward in other areas is the best long-term investment you can make for sustaining romance.

Besides, no-one ever got excitement from a train that stands still.

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38 Responses to 3 Things You Need To Remember To Avoid Losing Yourself In A Relationship

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  1. Georgina says:

    I did that before and the results were exactly as you said. Thanks for the good advice.

  2. Ashley says:

    Dear Stephen,

    This article really hit home for me. Now that I’m in a good place in my life and am ready for a long term or “marathon” relationship, this is actually a huge fear for me. With all the scientific evidence that has surfaced around how romantic love starts out the same way a drug addiction does, I am scared of losing my balance when I find the right guy to go on this journey with. I also know how important that initial bonding stage is in the first few years, so I don’t want to belittle how wonderful and important that “fall” is. That being said, the idea of maintaining my equilibrium is a little intimidating. Sometimes I wonder if it is why I haven’t committed to somebody yet. Fear has a funny way of doing things like that… Thank you for your comments and insight in this area.

    ~ Ashley B
    MH retreat dec 2015

  3. Lindsey says:

    Such refreshing advice! Not many people are saying this, so thank you. This is really difficult for many women. This is why I love Matthew’s retreats and the book club. They encourage women to have goals and focus on something besides a relationship. Relationships are one way to find happiness, but you are helping women learn they can find happiness in other areas, and this actually enriches their relationships. Brilliant ;) xo

  4. Evelynn Note says:

    Hi Stephen,
    This article came at a moment where I’d think you wrote it for me. I’m head over heels about this guy but we don’t spend as much time together as I’d like because he has a sh*t job and when we see each other he more often than not too tired to spend a good time together (he sleeps a lot and if he doesn’t he is moody). I understand it completly, but since I don’t work because of longtime illness, I live for the weekend to see him. Is it too late to change anything? And how should I do it? I always end up appologizing for wanting to spend more time wich I know is wrong but still happens.. any advice? Keep up the good work all of you, you guys are awesome ;)

  5. Maja says:

    Dear Stephen,

    I really enjoy reading your articles and this one hit the spot. And I have a further question — what to do when your ex is already back in the game (just a month after the breakup) and you are simply jealous of him because you clearly are not there yet, not ready for another relationship (and *definitely* do not want him back)?
    I am really confused right now and I would appreciate some kind of a reply from you very much. Thank you.

    Kind regards,
    Maja

    • carina says:

      Hi. I know exactly how that feels.

      I think it would be helpful if you try to focus more on yourself, your goals and dreams more than on him and how good he’s doing.
      Just like him do you deserve to do well and be happy!
      Maybe you can develop a sense of gratitude for him and then just let him go. Try to be happy that he’s doing well and see it as an inspiration!

      I totally understand how you feel, you probably even feel like he’s just ripped your heart out and ran off with it, now enjoying his life while you’re left behind hurting…
      Pick yourself up, you got it!
      Focus on you, do things that make YOU feel good, take care of yourself and leave him out of your sight if possible.
      Think about the things you always wanted to do or things that seem interesting or exciting to you and enjoy them.

      Lots of love to you.

  6. Qureysha says:

    Thank you, Stephen. That is so true I really enjoy.

  7. jd says:

    that was wonderful, thats the truth…

  8. Pingback:3 Tips on how to not lose yourself in a relationship – Bongo61

  9. neethuz says:

    Hi Stephen,
    Thats an ugly truth

  10. Jeri says:

    Or should I say Stephen…. Love all the great advice!!!

  11. Jeri says:

    Matthew,
    How did you get so smart?

  12. Anais says:

    This is amazing advice, Stephen! And so true, our natural tendency when we feel a lot of attraction and chemistry is to idealize the person as who you think he is, rather than seeing him for who he is in the present moment. We also often let things slide because we are afraid of losing the person. It took me years to realize that this is counterproductive for long term relationships and how important it is to get to know each other on a deeper level. Thank you for this article :-)

  13. Manjit says:

    Great article -insightful and clear! Thank you :)))

  14. says:

    Are you sure you’re a writer??? I think i am listening to a pastor with all his sermons! (Rolling in laughter ) and guess what?i love everything that is written in this “relationship-bible” hahaha. A guy who knows how to lead a woman to keep her sanity and direction is better than dating a swag or the that “fall-for-me” player. I agree with everything except opening yourself to multiple partners? Refocusing your attention to “being a better-version of yourself” is better than entertaining mooorrree dates or having new friends ( too picky here, sorry :)lol ) it could be career,new business, travel,family…etc. and hello? The world doesn’t just revolve around you guys!? (telling it to myself and others) don’t worry i had been beating myself with this reality ;)

  15. Link says:

    Omg this is so true. Just last night I decided to break thing with a guy that I have been seeing for a month. Just because he wouldn’t and never will understand my passion for my career and my dedication to achieve my goal. I was wondering if it was a right thing, this is a confirmation that it was a right thing to do. Thank you so much. Great article

  16. Pingback:Bongo61 | 3 Tips on how to not lose yourself in a relationship

  17. Quotes About Life says:

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I’m quite sure I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  18. Jet says:

    I lost myself in the last relationship. I think this is good advice and NO it was not a downer. It was a needed reminder of where (my) focus should be, on me, my great life and my great friends plus my hobbies and interests. Must remember not to forget (my friends). Thanks!!

  19. Aimy kaur says:

    Simply 1 word … Your inspiration is ” Amazing “

  20. D says:

    Stephen, I liked the last line especially- “no-one ever got excitement from a train that stands still”. Great article!

  21. Randa says:

    It’s basically like gardening, if you carefully water and take care of each plant, you’ll get a rich and blossomed garden; if you only water the new pretty plant you just introduced to the garden, not only will the rest of the plants die out but the plant itself will say ‘Hasta la vista!’ and drrrown!
    Sure it’s easier said than done but hey no one ever said life was easy.
    Loved tye realist touch of this piece keep ’em coming!

    PS: I know a group of people that would prefer a train sanding still… just saying–> http://www.vincentchow.net/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/lrt.jpg 
    ;p

    Besos!
    R

  22. A. says:

    A few things today. First, one reason I tend to overthink things is when I’m in the midst of emotion, my brain just freezes. It’s like I can’t think and feel at the same time. So much for women being multi-taskers! So I do all the thinking early on before my emotions are involved. I know you advise to slow down and do all this other stuff but it’s hard when you can’t even *think* clearly. It all seems logical now . . . :-)

    Second, I was thinking that it really takes me a long time to warm up to people and be open early. It really takes me a long time in general so that early guardedness is a good indication of who I am as a person. I remember you writing and saying how a woman only have one chance to make a first impression with a guy. How’s he going to know you’re all these great things if he doesn’t see it? I know, no pressure.

    Why can’t a guy just slow down as you advise above in this current post and get to know you to see those qualities? Why can’t he be a realist? Sometimes I get annoyed at having to be the one to put brakes on developments. Matt advises when guys are all pie-in-the-sky to say, “You’re crazy.” Not to discourage him but don’t take him seriously.

    I’m wishing they would be realists too but I don’t feel I can say that or it will take the wind out of their sails. Sigh. I’m tired of having to be the mature one all the time. What about my sails?

  23. Linkhua says:

    Thank you Stephen, great advise.

    my mentor in life says this
    “Rather than becoming so love-struck that you create a world where only the two of you exist, it is much healthier to learn from those qualities of your partner that you respect and admire and make efforts to improve and develop yourself. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, once wrote, “Love is not two people gazing at each other, but two people looking a head together in the same direction.” It follows then that relationship last longer when both partners share similar values and beliefs.” Daisaku Ikeda

    thank you for allowing me to share this

  24. Ilona says:

    Steve’s suggestions are logical and right. The problem is how to apply this stuff because sometimes we understand things logical but emotions can still prevail. So it’s a logic vs emotions fight. And it takes awareness and discipline to take things easy when you meet someone great.
    I also believe that to love and to feel loved are humans biggest needs and this fact makes it even harder not to immerse into the relationahip completely.

  25. Rhonda says:

    I wholly agree with Stephen… been there, done that, so to speak. After suffering the consequences of sacrificing my friends, extra-curricular activities, etc., the relationship I was in for over a year, failed. I believe it failed because I gave up too much and invested way too much time into that particular person. Now, I’m in a situation where the shoe is on the other foot… I met a guy the “Matthew Hussey way,” and we’ve known one another for almost a month. We are not mutually exclusive; in fact I don’t consider him anything other than a good friend at this point. But oh my, he wants to spend every day on the phone (like a teenage girl) and everyday doing “stuff.” I have a life and I just can’t do it. It’s rather exhausting. I enjoy his friendship, but after realizing that he doesn’t have a life, I’m in the process of letting him know what the deal is… primarily, I don’t want anything other than a friendship. Not sure if he can handle it, but I kind of feel like that is not my concern. Point being, as Matt has stated time and time again, it’s really attractive (no matter if you’re male or female) when you have a life.

  26. kish says:

    Hi Stephen
    I loved this article and thought it was bang on!
    All these points are great but it can be hard to put this into action.
    Another sub-point I would like to add is to TAKE THINGS SLOW. I think this is key to holding all the other points in check as well. Too many couples become joined at the hip all of a sudden and become very intense early on even when they have other fulfilling activities on their hands. We are driven more by our hormones and so this compulsion is strong. Pacing the relationship by forcing “time outs”, not spending every weekend together, limiting time, prolonging intimacy or landmarks (such as exchanging keys, moving in) etc are really helpful in making sure our rational side takes over sooner. Your first point-having other interests and friendships surely helps to keep things in balance and goes hand in hand with taking things slow.

    Point #3 is the hardest I think. We have a tendency to idolize, romanticize and see the potential of a person rather than who they actually are. Women will often put a huge stake on this dream coming true (esp. since they are socialized to find their “Prince’) and when it crashes they crash along with it.
    It is also hard to see people clearly because we want to see the best in others. And often this leads to making excuses for bad behavior -“oh he’s been hurt in the past” “he just has a different sense of humor” and what not.
    We also have a tendency to fill in beautiful details in the holes instead of finding out the truth.
    So developing this detached attitude of “we’ll see”, taking every interaction as an end in itself and staying in the present is very important but very hard because it feels like the romance and passion is losing ground.
    This where our friends and family and keep us in check. I suppose there is only one way to learn these behaviors and that is -practice.

    I believe these points apply to anything in life which can get our hopes up and dash them just as unexpectedly and cruelly such a new promotion, a new job, a career, moving to a new place…just about anything.

  27. Lorine says:

    Thank u for d article :)

  28. Victoria says:

    The thing about infatuation is that women have to fight the most mighty enemy. This enemy is not the man. I really detest gender bickering and accusations. We all know some great guys and some malevolent women. We all have to be evaluated on our own merits.

    The great enemy is the biology, the nature that forces us to act stupid, to forgo our principles, not to see the truth. Let me repeat it, because it’s very important, we are facing the greatest enemy ever, our own nature that has evolved especially to make us stupid in love.

    We need this stupidity to procreate, otherwise we would be extinct as a specie. It’s so easy to see irrationality in our friends’ infatuations–and our own past loves. It’s so difficult to control it in ourselves when we are in the midst of its influence.

    So, what to do? First, we must acknowledge that we are fighting a serious fight. We should realize that this fight requires all the strength and the smarts we’ve got. Then we have follow Steve’s advice, remembering all along that however logical and simple his advice seems, following it is far from being trivial. Finally, we have to use some psychological tricks to support our resolve.

    For example, it may be hard to derive fulfillment from other areas of our life (Steve’s recommendation #1), when we are infatuated. And so we should deliberately arrange meaningful and enjoyable activities that would force us outside the relationship.

    Speaking our mind is very difficult when all we want to do is to please (Steve’s recommendation #2). This ability should be developed ahead of time and practiced consistently so that it would become automatic. During an all consuming relationship we should push away any excuses for excessive and unreasonable submissiveness. Instead of saying ourselves that “a good girl must be agreeable” we should remind ourselves that “men love bitches.” I am exaggerating here, but sometimes extreme slogans are the most effective.

    Being a realist while infatuated is virtually impossible (Steve’s recommendation #3). This is where friends, and quality books, and quality programs–and quality blogs–help. When you are fighting a mighty enemy such as your own biology, you have to recruit a lot of help, and trust their recommendations.

    Love you all,
    Victoria

  29. Noémie says:

    Hi Stephen,
    how are you? Great article!
    When I get up on Wednesdays I am so excited and I wonder what will your article be about. Same feeling on Sundays with Matt’s video on Utube.
    Btw I met all your lovely family and the GtG team in Dublin last Sunday. Amazing!!! I did not know what to really expect. I even surprised myself being anxious not to learn that much as I’ve been following you for quite some time now (UTube videos,blog articles and read the book more than 3 times since my sister gave it to me last Christmas) U were the only one missing Stephen. Disappointing! But maybe I will meet you during a retreat someday. It looks like a “rebirth” for women experiencing this. Crazy right! Don’t know how my fragile heart woukd handle it
    Back to today’s article:
    U are absolutely right. I made huge mistakes in the past. Now,I’m wiser,I take my my time,I focus on what men do and not on what they say.
    I try to enjoy the ride even if I do not where it will lead me. The most important is to have the strenght to drop a wrong passenger on the road&keep driving towards Mr.RightLand. ;-)

    I’ve been week in the past with the 2 last points. I was a “side chick”. It took me m

    • Noémie says:

      I’ve been weak in the past with the 2 last points. I was a “side chick”in my last “relationship” and it took me MONTHS to recover. What a waste of time!!! Making me sick to think about it. I could have met so many great guys while I was mourning…
      I promised to myself to never go through that again!
      In fact,there are always signs but we are often too blinded to see them.

      A mercredi prochain Steve
      prends soin de toi!

  30. ann says:

    nicely done, Stephen. Keep up the good writing !

  31. Eve says:

    Bang on about Attraction, Comfort & Connection. Absolutely true.
    Thanks, Stephen
    x

  32. Kathryn Green says:

    I was sitting somewhere today, where I should have been concentrating, and my mind was drifting off. I thought how depressing life is that I’ll never be swept off my feet again into that heady, giddy feeling. It’s taken me a long time but after finally waking up and smelling the coffee, I’m far too sensible to not be pragmatic in my love life.
    Your first two points don’t apply to me but the third point to allow things to develop and build connection I think is right.
    Although the last set up person was harder to get rid of than to ‘get’. I thought and now know it’s a bad idea not to meet someone on your own attraction terms, not your friends. Crying on the phone and begging is not nice and left me feeling like a prize horrible person!
    Hope you are well.
    Kathryn x

  33. M says:

    So many train metaphors…

  34. Hélène says:

    Thank you

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