September 25, 2017 |Gideon Hanekom

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I read an interesting study recently, done with 5200 singles in the US. It found that 77% of women in a committed relationship say they “need personal space,” versus 58% of men. Why is this important? Because the lack of personal space can often be the start of losing yourself in a relationship.

And as Eckart Tolle said:

losing yourself in a relationship

Listen, losing yourself in a close relationship with someone is dangerous and unhealthy.

No person is that important.

And yes, that includes our kids.

The moment you start losing your own identity, you need to question one of two things:

  1. the relationship self, OR,
  2. how you choose to be in that relationship.

Losing yourself in a relationship not only undermines you as a person but actually distorts and limits the relationship self.


Because you‘re not being true to yourself and can therefore not contribute to it from your true and whole self.

Losing yourself in a relationship is not an admirable trait or worthwhile goal no matter your justification for it.

Losing yourself in a relationship is just that … losing yourself.

Nothing more and nothing less.


Now, let me just make something abundantly clear:

Every relationship will require some sacrifice at some point which means some giving and taking.

But, sacrifice is NOT what we’re talking about here.

With sacrifice, at times, you might have to let your own needs come second for the sake of your partner’s …

That’s OK. That’s normal.

Losing yourself in a relationship, on the other hand, means YOU have become a “non-factor” effectively.

You’ve lost your identity and with that your self-image and worth.

When that happens, you’re on a slippery slope to a dangerous place.

Remember These 4 Warning Signs of Losing Yourself in a Relationship, Before You’ve Gone Too Far:

You’re Unhappy But Scared To Say It.

One sign of an unhealthy relationship is that you’re very unhappy but too afraid to mention it to your partner.

That’s not a nice place to be in.

I remember years ago being stuck in a long term relationship from which I wanted to escape because I was losing myself in that relationship.

My family and friends were encouraging it, but I couldn’t get out.

I was too afraid to say or do anything about it.

So I stayed.

In fact, I almost made the terrible mistake of staying permanently and moving in together.

But, I came to my senses and got out of there.

And the feeling of freedom was immediate.

It was the right thing to do.

Listen, being unhappy every now and again during a relationship is common.

It usually occurs after an argument, major disagreement or some not-so-nice incident.

However, if the unhappiness lasts for weeks or months, it’s probably a warning sign that you’re busy losing yourself in a relationship, and it would pay well to explore what it’s all about.

We know that people in healthy relationships talk openly about their feelings.

Not being able to do that might be a sign that something’s off.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Kindly address this unhappiness with your partner.
  • Avoid blaming them or using guilt.
  • Focus on how you want to improve the relationship and how you can move forward.

If, however, you find you’re past that, then have the courage to make some hard calls and move on with your lives.

There is no point staying in something that’s going nowhere.

The end result of that is almost always more unhappiness.

You Give In To All Of Their Demands.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of always meeting your partner’s demands and in the process start losing yourself in a relationship.

That can range from changing your work schedule to pleasing them, to never cooking your favourite foods because they don’t like it etc. 

Initially, this might seem like the right thing to do because you’re thinking of them first, right?!


Here’s the natural progression of a relationship:

  • When we start dating we tend to see our new partners with rose-tinted glasses.
  • They can do no wrong so we tend to put them before ourselves.
  • But that usually fades after a while with some balance being restored.

You start seeing your partner for who they truly are and it changes the dynamics of your relationship.

For the better, one would hope.

People in healthy relationships tend to put the relationship first and will do whatever it takes to serve and strengthen their relationship.

This might mean putting the other’s needs first at times, but it could also mean insisting on getting your own needs met.

Giving and taking.

When you’re always giving in to your partner’s demands, whether by choice or not, it might be a big warning sign that you’re losing yourself in a relationship.

It is not sustainable and will most likely lead to some dissatisfaction, regret or even blame.

Compromise is a normal part of a healthy relationship, but it has limits.


If your unique identity is disappearing in the relationship then, in my opinion, it’s no longer healthy.

If you’re always giving in, it may have become an effective coping strategy for keeping the peace.

But, it’s not an effective long-term strategy for happiness.

It might keep the peace in the short term but, you’re probably paying with your own dreams and wishes in the long run.

With this strategy, someone’s paying the price in the end.

You Indulge In Distractions.

Watching television or checking social media can be a fun distraction.

It’s part of life these days and a small amount of it is fine.

But, living in a distracted world is unhealthy.

Even more so if you’re using distractions to avoid thinking about or dealing with the issues of your relationship!

This can be a major sign that you’re losing yourself in a relationship.

So, what are distractions and how much is too much?

Well, distractions can be anything like:

  • watching too many shows on Netflix
  • getting lost on Social Media
  • spending time in the gym
  • always hanging out with people
  • etc.

They vary from person to person.

But, you can recognise them as “distractions” when you realise you’re using certain things to avoid thinking or dealing with the challenges of your relationship.

Look, distractions have a role in life.

Sometimes we need to get our minds off whatever it is we’re going through.

During those times, distractions can be our saving grace.

They can help us cope with the difficulties we’re facing.

But, the moment distractions become a way for us to “escape from life,” it’s probably a sign of bigger problems.

Your Own Goals And Dreams Are Gone.

Most people I know have specific goals, dreams, and passions unique to them.

We also know that it’s typically a greater vision that inspires us to get up and move forward and make something worthwhile of ourselves.

However, your dreams and goals can disappear very quickly if you start losing yourself in a relationship. 

What some people tend to do is push their own dreams down to lift up their partner.

Sometimes, they will hold themselves back out of guilt for the possibility of “overtaking” their partner.

They might not take the promotion out of fear of adding to their partner’s existing feelings of low self-esteem.

Or, they might refrain from starting a new business because of how their partner might react.

Look, as husband and dad, I’d be the first person to say that being responsible is the most responsible thing to do.

That means that sometimes you have to think about how you can take care of your family while also pursuing a dream.

Just because you have a family doesn’t mean you need to give up on your talents or dreams.

And vice versa.

However, when you start paying for one with the other, you should seriously consider the path you’re on and whether you’ve started losing yourself in a relationship.

Healthy relationships make room for people to pursue their talents, goals and dreams.

But not at the expense of one another.

I would always encourage my wife to pursue her goals because it would most likely add to the overall quality of our life together.

Why would I stand in her way?

Why wouldn’t I want a better life with her?

And, if that means I need to take care of some of the other stuff while she’s at it, then so be it.

So what does this mean for you?

Just this …

If there isn’t any room in your relationship for both of your dreams or goals, you might want to reassess that arrangement.

losing yourself in a relationship

Sometimes it’s just a timing issue though.

I appreciate that.

Relationships, like life, have seasons.

But, putting your dreams on hold because it’s not a good time for your partner, could mean that your dreams might take a backseat forever.

If you want to keep it from happening, you might want to have a heart to heart sooner rather than later.

Last thoughts

There’s an old adage that says, “You can’t give what you don’t have.”

Losing yourself in a relationship not only harms you but also limits the quality and potential of your relationship.

You will never be able to give your partner all of you by losing yourself in the relationship.

Being less than you are to have more, doesn’t make sense.

So, remember these 4 warning signs and do something about them if you recognise them. 

If you can think of any more warning signs for losing yourself in a relationship, please let me know.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with someone.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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