It happens. Even strong people can lose themselves in a relationship. We can become so happily wrapped up in our partner that after a while we feel something is amiss within ourselves. Where did we go? When we are in love our partner gets high on the list of priorities. That’s ok. They are supposed to be on that list. Their time schedule, their hobbies and interests, their priorities, it all becomes our own priorities. It’s when we get lost in them we become unbalanced. How do we hold onto our selves and have a healthy relationship?
To have a healthy relationship you must be a healthy person. A symbiotic relationship is an unhealthy one. One person is needy and dependent. One person has power over the other. The result of this is the loss of integrity of both partners. A healthy relationship is one where there is maturity, peace, and stability. Both individuals have plenty of room to be themselves and there is genuine acceptance. In a symbiotic relationship one partner is driven by fear that the other will leave. In a healthy relationship, each individual is free to take up room in the others life and each person has balance in their own life. A person will choose rather than be driven to give love to the other partner.
We have all seen negative, sick, grossly unhealthy relationships. Many of us don’t even have much of an idea of what a healthy relationship even is. In a healthy relationship we give our love freely, with no conditions and expectations. Many of us have learned through our observances of other relationships, that to give love means to “give up” or “give away”. In essence creating a deficit in our own selves. We also learn to give only as much as we expect to receive, so that we don’t feel cheated by giving more. In a healthy relationship, giving is very different from these types of messages we have received.
In a symbiotic relationship one partner gives up a significant part of themselves in order to keep the peace. This unhealthy individual is ruled by a fear of being alone and they will give away parts of themselves for the sake of staying in the relationship. So while short-term conflict is avoided, the status-quo will be maintained. In the long run the price paid is high. The price is the precious loss of self. If one partner sacrifices themself too much then the other partner has more power and control over the entire relationship. When there is an unbalance of power the relationship will feel very unsatisfying for both individuals. The price paid for not being alone is to give up who and what they are, their wants and needs. For not wanting to be alone the individual will ultimately feel alone.
To have a healthy relationship we have to love ourselves. To give up ourselves or shrink it down to make room for the other partner, will haunt us. We will feel resentment, regret, and anger. Therefore, the relationship will deteriorate. We all need relationships, but we also need to be fulfilled within ourselves. When we give up pieces of ourselves for the sake of a relationship we do so at the cost of our identity and personal growth.
Our lives should never totally change when we enter into a relationship. We have to maintain our individuality and personal goals. We need to maintain and continue to develop our friendships, hobbies, careers, and interests that we had before we met our partner. If we give these up, we give up our uniqueness. Maintaining our individuality will enable us and our partner to build a healthy relationship. We will also be more interesting for our partner. They will want to stay with us.
Symbiotic relationships fail in many ways because they are unsatisfactory. When we enter a relationship and give up all the wonderful things that make us who we are we aren’t giving ourselves the love we need. We have to love and respect ourselves first before we can give love to another. The loss of self, identity, authenticity, whatever you wish to call it is a profoundly sad loss. It is devastating.
We also must not confuse identity and individuality with flexibility. Identity is about all the great things that make us who we are. flexibility and compromise are crucial to a healthy relationship and will always be necessary in any relationship. To compromise we have to be committed to honest communication of our feelings and needs at all times.
Neither you or your partner should give up what makes you unique and the special person you both are. It’s up to you and your partner to create and maintain a balance. Healthy boundaries will accomplish this along with loving ourselves.