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Loving Without Losing Yourself!

By Allie Ochs

You are in love and it feels wonderful. This love is different and you are prepared to do anything to make it last. To prevent this ship from sinking you work hard to steer this relationship into a safe harbor. In the process you lose yourself and your romantic relationship becomes all-consuming!

When Kyra fell head-over-heels for Dan she went out of her way to create a wonderful relationship. She found herself at hockey games, watching horror movies, at parties with his friends and on vacations with his family. At home, things were not much different. Kyra cooked his favorite meals, kept house the way he wanted and listened to music of his choice. On Dan's advice, Kyra cut her hair short, wore less make-up and a conservative wardrobe. She had even given up her night classes, because they cut into their dinnertime. For Dan, this relationship was perfect. In an effort to not disappoint him, Kyra lived in constant anxiety. She had adapted to his lifestyle, defended his views and even began to talk like him. Kyra's friends witnessed her change from a spirited and happy woman to a subdued and pleasing personality. This relationship had sucked the life out of Kyra, yet she was the last to notice.

While compromise in a relationship is a necessary ingredient for it's success, denying the core of who you are is not. When you finally realize that an all-consuming relationship is depleting you, there will be nothing left but resentment. It will be difficult to reclaim yourself while remaining in that same relationship. The outcome of such a relationship is usually a heart-breaking crisis, with no one but you to blame.

The opposite of an all-consuming relationship is a half-hearted relationship. In this relationship you withhold affection until the evidence is in that the other is hooked. I love you, if you love me first has become a common trend. Fearing that you will give more love than you receive, you put your partner on probation and control the power in this relationship. You judge according to your expectations and keep track of his or her scores. The higher the scores, the more you are willing to reward with love. This conditional view creates tremendous emotional insecurity.

All-consuming or halfhearted relationships are very unnatural and unhealthy. Ironically, both types are guided by fear. In an all-consuming relationship, fear of not being loved is the driving force. In a halfhearted relationship, fear of being hurt prevents you from knocking down protective walls.

Is there a happy medium? To you love wholeheartedly without losing yourself requires a very different perspective of relationships. Even though you know that relationships require work, deep down you cling to a sweet illusion that meeting the right person is all it takes. You will then take off on your magic carpet ride. Think again! Soon that magic rug will be pulled from underneath you.

If you long for a partner who is wholeheartedly behind you, ask yourself, are you the same partner? Do you give that which you seek in your relationship? Ironically, many lack the qualities they seek in their partners. Listen to your heart and when it feels right, feel the fear and love anyway. Love without hesitation and with all you heart. Don't let your fear of rejection and getting hurt kill your desires or steal your dreams. You may have stared in the face of love before. Maybe you chickened-out. Next time, don't be a chicken!

If you are in a relationship of love, here is a universal truth: Love is choice and if you choose it wholeheartedly, you are never going to lose it. Love teaches you to become a better human being. Restore your faith in love and become emotionally available to each other. Put your fears and your past behind you and become lovable by being loving. Learn to trust by trusting yourself. Surrendering to love does not mean losing yourself. Yet, even when it is safe to open your heart, you may feel weakened by the anxiety that this love will disappear.

When in love, how do you preserve your identity and course in life? Here is the number one reason for losing yourself in a relationship: Your belief that love is something you either deserve or not! Your misguided belief leads you to counterproductive efforts to do almost anything to get love and even more to hold onto it:

  • You modify your identity to gain approval and love from your partner.
  • You hold back intimacy to protect your vulnerability.
  • You have a need to manipulate your partner.

There is nothing you have to be, or do, to earn love. When it is love, there is very little you can do to destroy it. If you can believe that, you will accept that:

  • You can be loved even if you are not perfect
  • You can be loved while keeping your course in life
  • You can be loved without getting lost in love

Love is the most powerful human lesson you are ever to learn. It is a purposeful interdependence through which you become so much more than on your own. Once you can understand that love is not something to be found, rather it is in you to be shared, you can love wholeheartedly without fear. Don't turn your back on love every time it touches you, because when you give up on love you give up on yourself.

© 2004 Allie Ochs, Relationship Expert, Coach, Speaker and the Author of 'Are You Fit To Love?'.

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