Do you tend to lose your identity when you’re in a relationship? When we fall in love, its easy to lose who we are. This is especially true for those of you who are Love Connectors (who have an anxious attachment) or struggle with low self-esteem.
I love to think of losing yourself in love as “shape shifting”. It is the practice of morphing ourselves into someone who we believe will be more acceptable or lovable to a partner. Its inauthentic, and has the potential to ruin your self-esteem and to lead to problems in the relationship once your true self is discovered.
Why do we shape shift?
The high of love can make us shift and morph into someone we are not, just for the sake of feeling more of the high. The human brain releases chemicals that are designed to help you form an attachment to a partner. These chemicals make you feel amazing when you’re with someone you’re attracted to. You probably feel relaxed, happy, excited, and preoccupied with thoughts of your partner. This process exists for a reason. Scientifically speaking, it’s nature’s way of helping the human race survive.
When you combine the addictive high from the chemicals of love, with any fears or insecurities you may have, you are primed to shape shift. Here you are, open and exposed to someone to love and who has the potential to love you in return. This is by far, one of the most vulnerable things we can do as humans.
We want to avoid heartbreak and rejection. This fear can make you abandon your needs, your desires, or other characteristics about you that you may be afraid to share with your partner. You may fall into the trap of inauthenticity in an attempt to maintain a relationship and avoid pain.
Your attachment style can also make you shape shift. Love Connectors who have anxious attachments are hard wired to try to connect with a partner, sometimes at the sake of feeling worse about themselves or putting their needs aside.
The signs of shape shifting
Boundaries blur. The things you used to do have become less important. You don’t see your friends anymore. Your interests are his interests. Her interests are your interests. You let go of your routine, your structure, and your life.
Do you hide aspects of yourself out of fear you won’t be liked? You may be afraid to “expose yourself”, and allow someone to see the “real you” physically, emotionally, sexually, mentally, or spiritually.
Of course, relationships require some degree of blending and blurring. It wouldn’t be a relationship if we didn’t share time, interests, and a desire to spend time together. Shape shifting occurs when the blending is off balance. You lose more of yourself in the relationship, instead of growing because of the relationship.
There should still be a maintenance of your own life. Your friends, your work, and your hobbies should remain a priority. It may not be at the same frequency as your single days, but these things should still have a presence and significance in your life.
How to maintain your shape
Stop hiding. Find the courage to be seen. Nurture the belief that who you are is acceptable, and worthy of love and acceptance. Authenticity requires fearless confidence in who you are. It requires that you believe you’re ok, and if your date or partner doesn’t like who you are, then it isn’t a reflection of your worth, your appearance, or anything else on a personal level. It simply means that someone failed to recognize your worth, or your worth wasn’t a match for their worth. It is not about you.
When you love and accept yourself, you won’t run the risk of losing yourself in relationships.
You must trust that who you are is imperfectly perfect. Your flaws and imperfections are a part of you to acknowledge, and never a part to hide. It is through loving and accepting yourself that you can learn to allow someone else to love and accept you. Living outside of your truth builds walls between you and love.
You must trust that by showing up in a relationship, or just a date, in transparency and authenticity will guide you to deep, healing, regenerating love. Stop shape shifting and lean in to a feeling of compassion for you and the courage to show yourself to the world.