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Don’t Lose Yourself In Your Relationship

Updated: Jul 4



Help! I feel like I have lost myself in my relationship. Anna (not her real name) sat in my office

and, through tears, said she felt miserably worthless, unattractive, and disappointed in her

marriage. Her self-image was dictated by her husband’s attitude toward her and his career


She had been a respected manager of a large advertising firm. A friend introduced them when

Joe (not his real name) was in town for a meeting. He admired Anna’s intelligence and

accomplishments, and she was impressed with his ambition and outgoing personality. After a

short courtship, they were married. She moved to his hometown and felt socially connected,

attractive, and secure for a while.

Joe suggested she “take a break” from corporate work and help him launch his new

construction business. She felt needed, and the prospect of her husband being a successful

business owner boosted her self-image. Anna worked hard for his approval, but he rarely

affirmed her contributions.

However, when his business hit rough patches, Joe’s critical impatience struck at the core of

Anna’s self-worth, and she began to feel incompetent and worthless. As the business suffered,

so did their marriage. She felt out of place, was discontented with Joe, the relationship, and

most of all, herself.

Relationship identity dependency sounds like this: “If only the one I love were more successful,

then I would feel successful.” Or “Everyone thinks she is attractive, so I must have attractive

qualities, too.” Or “If s/he treats me with disrespect, then I must not deserve respect.”

Many people express pangs of disappointment and depression because their relationship

person does not make them feel significant and confident with affirming comments or by being a

“star” in some way so some of their glory can spill over onto the partner. If that sounds like you,

you are looking in the wrong places for affirmation of your self-worth.

Dr. Gary Chapman, counselor, and author of The Five Love Languages, cautions men and

women against looking to a significant other for 100 percent mirroring of approval and

acceptance. If you do, you’ll be disappointed in your relationship, loved one, and—most of

all—yourself. And you could sabotage your potential for personal fulfillment and happiness.

If you feel you may be experiencing relationship identity dependence, you can start now to

enhance your confidence, worth, and attractiveness. Try the following to renew your spirit.

1. Know the truth about your qualities and do not listen to or receive negative comments or lies

about you from hurtful people. Write and say aloud your qualities often. And never compromise

your values to gain approval from another person. In her book, Approval Addiction, Joyce Meyer

says you’ll eventually resent the person and yourself for having done so.

According to Dr. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, thoughts like

«Please take over and take care of me », « You should come through for me, »; or « You didn’t come

through for me, », and I blame you for the results », ; are examples of relationship dependency.

Instead of being codependent, Covey recommends being interdependent and involved without

losing your own identity. I could not agree more!

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