Thursday, July 1, 2010

Be yourself in a relationship

People often compromise or lose their sense of self in a relationship.

They may do this to be liked, to be loved, or to please their partner. Some people may compromise what’s most important to them and to their well-being because they believe they have to. Some people may lose themselves in the relationship because it feels good to merge with their partner. Some stop taking care of their needs as they become the last on the list, after family and relationship. And some people get lazy, thinking that now that they have a relationship, their partner will give them all they need. Finally, some people get so wrapped up in getting their partner to meet their needs that they completely lose the self they once were.

There are many reasons people stop being themselves in a relationship. Regardless, the loss or compromise of the sense of self leads to the forfeiture of self-care and often contributes to the later breakup of the relationship.

But a strong sense of self and self-care on each partner’s part matter in the long-term survival and happiness of the couple.

You enter the relationship as whole person, not only with your own interests and life, but more importantly with your own preferences, boundaries, likes and dislikes. Your partner is attracted exactly to this part of you – to your strength, your individuality and your sense of self. It is this self that your partner wants to be with and chooses the relationship for. When you start to lose or surrender your sense of self, your partner starts to lose the person he or she got into a relationship with – a big problem. The more of your self you lose, the less your partner will want to be with you.

But more importantly, you start to lose yourself and likely start blaming the relationship and your partner for the loss. The more of yourself you lose, the more miserable you will feel. You will likely become angry, resentful, and not at all pleasant to be with as a result. This is a one-two punch sort of thing – as your partner starts to miss out on having you around, you may add unpleasant, resentment-filled behavior to the mix, which makes you unpleasant to be around. You can see how this can create distance in the relationship.

If both people are doing this dance, which they often are, it’s no surprise that many couples drift apart.

What can you do to save your relationship?

Let’s first talk about three common ways people compromise their sense of self. Then we’ll address how to maintain your own individuality in your relationship, so that there’s enough of you in your relationship to make both you and your partner happy.

There are three main ways people compromise their sense of self: the subtle surrender of self, the manipulating for or trying to “buy” love and the obsession with the other rather than self-care.

The Subtle Surrender of Self

The subtle surrender of self is the most common way people in relationships compromise their sense of individuality. It is not as if people consciously decide to sacrifice themselves for the relationship. Over time, the integration of two lives and two lifestyles into one takes its toll and certain compromises are bound to occur.

Compromise in itself is a desirable trait of a good relationship. But compromise of that which is essential to one’s sense of self can eat away at the relationship over time.

When people surrender what is essential to them, what nourishes them, they lose inspiration, passion and grounding. This is how someone who enters a new relationship full and dynamic becomes one-dimensional, settled and unhappy once in the relationship.

Trying to Buy Love

Do you feel you have to buy love? Some people readily give up money and share their living space or other possessions with virtual strangers in hopes of getting love. Sound unbelievable?

What would you do if the person you have been dating for a short time, but with whom you thought you could have a great future, needed money or a place to live, or a car? Would you be as generous with a new friend in the same situation?

Most people would not be as generous with a new friend or even with an old friend or a relative as they would be with a new lover. In these instances it is clear they hope to trade generosity for gratitude and love. Unfortunately, in these situations neither will be readily forthcoming – if you try to buy love, what you will buy is resentment and likely the end of the relationship.

Sometimes an act of giving up of self for love is subtler. Some people do nice things for their partners not because they want to, but because they think giving will engender loving feelings.

On an even subtler level, some people suppress dark parts of themselves, such as anger or sadness, and only reveal the sunny side of their personality to get love.

The fact is, most of us do try to manipulate in this way to get love. It isn’t pretty, but it is human nature – we treasure our relationship and want to make sure we keep it. The trick is to know that manipulation seldom works to nourish love, and to keep our tendency to manipulate well within view and at bay.

Obsession with the Other Rather Than Self-Care

Many people get into a relationship and soon get consumed with what they are not getting from their partner. Often the partner is seen as a perfect fit for what the person wants, except his or her behavior is not perfect at all. Most often what’s missing are attention, affection and wanting to be together.

These are the kinds of relationships people often get caught in like a fly in a spider web. They can’t leave, because they see the partner as a perfect fit. They can’t stay and be happy, because their needs are not getting met. They spend most of their waking hours trying to figure out how to get their partner to meet their needs.

Meanwhile, in the obsession about the other person, the person obsessing looses track of him or herself. Personal needs and wants are brushed aside, friends and interests are forgotten and self care goes out the window.

This only makes the situation worse. As the person gets caught up in the web of such a relationship, no one is tending to the person – not she herself, or the partner. And that eventually makes for one very miserable person.

How to Be Your Own Person in a Relationship

1. Before you enter any relationship, realize that you may have a tendency to give yourself up to the relationship. Determine ahead of time what is essential in your life – what, if given up, will negatively alter who you are. Then determine the minimum action you must take to maintain what is essential.

For example, if fitness is essential, determine ahead of time that you will go to the gym or run no matter what is happening in your relationship and stick to that self-promise. That means that if you would rather hang out with your partner, you will still go exercise.
And even if your partner and you are having a fight, you will still go exercise, even if you think it would be better to stick around and fight some more.

2. Resist merging with your partner for some of the time. Merging is that feeling you often get at the beginning of the relationship, when it feels timeless and you feel fully connected with your partner. This is a wonderful feeling, and yet this is where people most often lose themselves. When you are in this part of your relationship, spend extra time working on No. 1 above.

To do this, consciously build in “apart time,” when you will be out of contact and will focus on you and your life. This may mean that at work you do not text, e-mail or call each other for four hours at a time, or that every day you meditate alone for an hour.

3. Do not buy love, on any level. Cultivate the spirit of generosity and a pleasant disposition, but do so because it suits you and contributes to your vibrancy. Do not manipulate your partner into loving you, needing you, etc. If you do manipulate, it will backfire, and you may end up with less or no love.

That means that if your partner needs money, you tactfully and lovingly communicate that you do not feel comfortable lending it, but will be supportive in any other way – with ideas, motivation, resources, networking, etc. It also means that you give gifts because you truly want to, not because it has been demanded of you or because you think you will be treated better as a result.

4. When the relationship is not meeting your needs, meet your own needs. No relationship is going to meet your needs 100 percent of the time, and even the best of relationships will sometimes fail to meet your needs.

When you are struggling with wanting more from your partner, do the counterintuitive thing first. Pull back and examine what you need and want and why you may not be getting it. See if there’s something you can give yourself so that you can stop suffering and trying to get your partner to do something for you.

Take care of yourself and make yourself happy first before trying to fix your relationship. A happier you will more easily get what you want from your partner or will more easily walk if you need to.

5. Strive for personal satisfaction and happiness, not for just feeling OK. Keep asking what you need from life order to be fulfilled. Be responsible for how your life is turning out.

Your partner may help with this by being a mirror, or someone to bounce ideas off of, but the work of making your life for yourself is your own.

People lose themselves in relationships all the time, and often the price they pay for this surrender of self is twofold: They lose the relationship and temporarily the self. Don’t be a victim of this losing strategy. Keep your individuality and sense of self intact in your relationship, and both of you will be happier for it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dear women without a man,

This is a question that had been troubling me for a while; What is interdependence in a relationship?
Is there anything called too much independence? and finally what is being dependent in a relationship..??

Took some time and finally found a an answer online from a web site called ask jenny where it explains the issue from both sides.. makes quite sense for me.

Note: This is a perspective of a woman

Why do men reject independent women?

Jeannie Answers:

Dear Woman without a Man:

I Spent a Weekend on Your Question

Before answering this question, I spent the weekend talking to some friends – male and female – to see what they thought about this question: about what it is that men look for in women.

The Age Approach

Now, your age and the age of the men you are dating really has a tremendous amount to do with the answer you are going to get, because just like women, at different ages, men want different things.

First, before we get to the men (or boys) in your life, let's talk about you.

Your Signature

You state that you are an independent, attractive, ambitious woman, yet you sign your letter as " a woman without a man."

Most women that I know – if they are truly independent and ambitious – are pretty secure in who they are and what they have to offer; if a guy doesn't like it, then let him be damned.


I agree – the #1 impediment to finding the right relationship is one's attitude toward onesself.

However, your choice of names really says a lot about where you are at. I wonder if perhaps you believe that you need a man in your life to be happy? I also wonder, just from what you've written, what type of men you are finding yourself attracted to and what you are pulling to yourself.

What It Means To Be Independent

If you are truly an independent woman of means, of self-worth and complete belief in yourself, then you should somewhere deep inside understand that a man in your life can COMPLIMENT your life – not become your life. I would highly suggest that before you look at the men that you've dated to berate them for not being what you want, perhaps you should look a little closer to home.

As I once read somewhere, the only common thread in these relationships is you. Why are you drawn to men who can't give you what you need or appreciate what you offer?? What are YOUR criteria for a great relationship?

Make a List


I agree – she should make a list of criteria.

Figure out what you want first – and I'm going to make a suggestion on how to do that. Write a LIST – yes, I mean a list of characteristics that you want ideally in the man you would like to share your life with. A complete list – from the fact that his feet don't smell to the fact that he has a good relationship with his mother. Don't leave out a single detail.

I know many women who did this, sat down with their hearts and their heads and figured out exactly what their ideal man would be like, act like, look like, talk like, think like...and you'd be amazed at the success they had in finding a pretty close replica. (Of course, there was one who forgot to mention the AGE range she wanted, and the man she ended up falling in love with was 10 years younger than her, but everything else on the list matched.) Without figuring out exactly who it is that you ARE looking, you aren't bound to find him anywhere.

What Men Want

Now, on to my research about what men want. The men that I spoke to, funny enough, tended to lean a little more to the stereotypical guy: what women think a man wants is somewhere, deep down, quite true.

I was told they want a woman who is attractive, intelligent, and independent – to a point. They want a woman who is capable of cooking, cleaning and doing the "wifely" stuff even if the duties are shared;.they want a woman who perhaps can run a company by herself, but maybe is still afraid of killing a spider.

Guys Kill Spiders for You

Reader Phatbob

I know a joke is a joke, but there is no need to be killing spiders.

In other words, they want someone who is capable of taking care of herself, but not so capable that there is no NEED for him to be in your life. If you kill your own spiders, what good is a guy anyway? *smile*

Jeannie They Want To Feel Needed

Don't women also want to feel needed?

Mostly, what I understand is that men want to feel needed. They want to be taken care of, just like we do, but they also want to feel that they fulfill a part of your life. They are not talkers, they are doers. If you are so caught up in being your own woman and doing your own thing, where do they fit in? If they feel that you could live perfectly fine with OR without them, they aren't likely to feel needed. I think guys want a WOMAN, in every sense of the word – and that includes understanding that there is still a little girl inside that woman who needs help occasionally and they want to know they can provide that for us. (Am I wrong, guys? Please tell me if I am!)

My Independence Is a Wonderful Thing

I myself believe that I am an independent woman who knows her own mind, and does for herself. But I also know that I don't like to kill spiders, and without calisthenics and a really long ladder, I'm not likely going to be able to change the light-bulbs on the ceiling in my living room. I am perfectly capable of doing it – but do I really WANT to? :)

Men Also Have Needs

Believe it or not, a guy has needs too. They have wants, and desires, and parents they grew up with that led to ideas, thoughts, and beliefs about what they want in a mate. They want to be needed, but they also want someone to take care of them too – someone who is physically and emotionally capable of doing both. Perhaps cooking isn't so important to one man, but to another, a home-cooked meal could be the sign of love. To another man, a woman who is willing to take him out to dinner could be the sign they need.

Make Time For His Life

But the point is, while being independent is great, if you are so caught up in your own life that you don't have time for HIS, then he's likely to leave and find someone who's a little more available.

The Age Factor

And of course, there is the Age Factor. Twenty-Something's want something different than Thirty-Something's. :) Again, back to my illustrious researching skills: I talked to a few men, some in their early twenties, late twenties, thirties, and each man had something different to say.

The "generalization" that one man made was that in your early to mid-twenties, you care what your friends think of your girlfriend. In your later twenties to thirties, you care what YOU think of your girlfriend.

The overview of what I learned:

The Early Twenty-Somethings: Here and Now

In their early twenties, guys are generally looking at the here and NOW, not the here and five years from now. They are less discriminating, perhaps, but that's mostly because they aren't concerned with the long run. They are looking to have fun, and be with the woman who provides the most fun.

They probably aren't all that concerned with finding a woman who can balance her own checkbook, read the stock market and manage her own life (and perhaps his). They want to have fun, they want to be admired by their friends for this amazing woman in their life, but the criterion isn't usually how independent she is. (And it must be said that not ALL men are like this; this is a generalization based on what I was told by a group of men.)

Later Twenty-Somethings: Considering a Future

In the later twenties, they begin to put up filters about the women they go out with; they begin to realize that the future is looming out there and perhaps they should start thinking about it. They are thinking about their own lives, careers, how much they have succeeded and where they are going. They will begin to look at women in a slightly different light.

Though they still want to look good to their friends, they are also wondering if this woman can fit into the life they are beginning to realize. At this point, I would guess they DO care if you can balance your own checkbook. They may not want you to balance THEIRS just yet, but they'd like to know that you are capable of it.

Thirty-Somethings: Living Long-Term

Now, in their thirties, guys are beginning to LIVE the life they've been trying to figure out. They are realizing the benefits of owning your own home, of having a solid career, a 401K plan, and all the trappings of the "rest of your life."

And in that "rest of your life" is usually included a significant other. They want someone who can balance a checkbook, perhaps cook a meal, share the household chores (and in some cases, take them over or hire someone to do so) – they want a woman who can fill their needs and still have room to be NEEDED.

Generalizations and Stereotypes Aside

Now, do I know if I'm right about ANY of this?? Not really; it's just an overview of the conversations I had, the men I've met, the women I know who've met other men, and so on and so on.

Fulfilling and Being Fulfilled

But underneath everything, I believe the basic rule is the same for men AND women: People want to be with someone who is capable of meeting their needs, whatever those needs may be. They also want to be with someone for whom they bring something TO. People's needs will change for different people, at different ages with different relationships.

JeannieDon't Get Mad at Someone Who Can't Be What You Want


But she also has to be true to herself from the beginning, so that the wrong guys don't get interested.

I think the important part of this is to figure out what YOUR needs are, and start looking at the people that you believe can fill them. But you have to know what YOU want. You have to know what THEY want. You really can't get mad at someone for not being what you want. You can only get mad at yourself for not being a little bit more aware of what that is first.

quoted from ask-jenny

Nothing else matters.

Nothing else matters
So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
and nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say
and nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
and nothing else matters

never cared for what they do
never cared for what they know
but I know

So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
and nothing else matters

never cared for what they do
never cared for what they know
but I know

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us, something new
Open mind for a different view
and nothing else matters

never cared for what they say
never cared for games they play
never cared for what they do
never cared for what they know
and I know

So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
No, nothing else matters