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Keeping your individuality in a relationship

We’re all different. We all have our own personality traits, habits, hobbies and passions that define us and make us who we are.

Yet sometimes when we enter relationship, we find that our defining characteristics start to blur as we fall in step with our new partner. We give up going to our Saturday morning spin classes to go and watch football. We lose touch with friends. Sometimes, we even change the way we speak!

We usually do this to bond with our new partner and learn more about their interests in the early stages of the relationship. However, as time goes by, many of us find that we’re still just going along with what our partner wants to do and no longer make the time for our old interests. When we move in with a partner, it can be even harder to maintain a sense of self.

In extreme cases, people can find themselves changing their whole appearance and lifestyle to fit in with a partner. But, on top of losing your identity while you’re in the relationship, you put yourself at risk of being even more devastated if the relationship ends. You may feel like you’ve not only lost a partner, but a whole way of life. This can leave you feeling lost and confused over your own identity.

Of course, you do have to make some compromises and small changes to make a relationship work, but you don’t have to give up everything that makes you happy. It’s possible to hold onto your individuality and have a strong relationship.

Set aside some ‘me time’

You and your partner don’t need to spend every moment together. It’s the quality of time you spend together that counts, not the quantity. Sit down and discuss a mutually convenient time when you can both be alone to pursue personal interests. Keep in mind that plans may have to change to fit around work and family commitments, so you and your partner must both be open to changing the schedule now and then.

Learn to say ‘no’

You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything your partner wants. This doesn’t mean you have to say ‘no’ to everything – it’s great to try new things – it just means you should look for a balance as you plan your activities.

Keep friends and family close

Growing up, your friends and family were the people who helped shape you to become the person you are today. Keep in touch with the people who matter to you, and you’ll stand a better chance of keeping in touch with yourself.

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