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So you’re that girl who when she falls in love, she pours everything that’s left in her into him. Every bit of love, care and attention until there’s nothing left to give. You tend to love him so much that you forget to love yourself, and in the process, you lose you.

First off, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Many women lose themselves when they enter a relationship, but the question is why does that happen. One thing comes to mind, we were taught to love and become dependent at a really young age. Our brains are dominated with the idea of love, of falling in love, and finding the guy who will sweep us off our feet. So when something or someone close to that gives us that, we drop everything and chase it. We dream of the feeling and we respond to it with a craving we can’t quite satisfy. In addition to this, women are still brought up to believe that finding their prince charming is the climax of their lives. It is important to note that in some cultures, if not most, girls are still taught to be dependent while boys are the given freedom to do things their way.

When an independent woman enters a relationship and becomes dependent to her partner, she will tend to lose herself and give too much. It could be because of the fear of losing him, or that she cares too much, loves too much, and/or gives too much. Well, we don’t know, but what I do know is that it happens to a lot of us that there’s already a name for it—the Disappearing Woman.

Psychoanalyst Beverly Engel, author of Loving Him Without Losing Yourself, defined it as something that happens when women lose track of what they believe in, what they stand for, what’s important to them and what makes them happy just because they happen to be in a relationship with someone they love. In his book he wrote:

No matter how successful, assertive, or powerful some women are, the moment they become involved with a man they begin to give up part of themselves — their social life, their time alone, their spiritual practice, their beliefs and values. In time, these women find they have merged their lives with their partners’ to the point where they have no life to go back to when and if the relationship ends.

And they wonder why women feel more pain after a break up but bounce back much faster from it than men. It’s because when the relationship comes to an end, it feels so freeing. You’ve cared too much, exhausted every possible option, given too many chances, that when it finally ends, you feel empty yet lightweight. The relationship has been so taxing on you that when it’s over, there’s a part of you that rejoices.

Of course none of these feelings were his fault. He didn’t ask you to love him that much, to make him a priority, nor to lose yourself in him. So don’t try to rationalize your actions and feelings by putting the blame on him. In fact, it’s ourselves we should castigate here. How often did you agree to him just because you didn’t want a fight? How many plans did you cancel just because he invited you somewhere? How much of your personality did you create and lose just to please him?

You see, we’re the ones making things difficult here. Maybe you think you’re just being nice, loving and/or understanding, but sweetheart, you’re not. By pretending, you lose who you are—the you that made him like you in the first place—and it wouldn’t bring any good in the relationship. Besides, if the roles are reversed, if it’s him who loses himself into you so much, becomes dependent, and needy, would you like that?

We can continue to love ourselves while we fall for someone else, but losing ourselves in the process isn’t really an option you’d like to take. So remember, LOVE but don’t LOSE.

Rozzette Anne Reyes

Rozzette Anne Reyes is a graduate of University of the Assumption with a bachelor's degree in Psychology. You can find her online, sharing funny cat videos or tweeting about her writing progress. You can follow her on Twitter at @noitszette and on Instagram at @roanrey.

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