We've all noticed it in our friends. When they meet a new partner, they're excited about it. They can't stop talking about how wonderful the other person is and how well things are going. But as things continue to go well, you start to hear less about it. Their seat at the book club you went to together is empty and so is their seat at the bar where you meet up with your friends every week.
When you do meet up once every month, their conversation revolves around their partner and what their plans are together. Somehow, their hobbies and interests have faded away and their interests now seem to be that one person, or the things they do together. You said you'd never let it happen to you if you got into a relationship, but somehow, mysteriously, it then happens to you, too.
It can often be difficult to notice yourself, but over time, your entire life can begin to revolve around one person -- for better or worse. Here are some key ways to tell if your relationship is your identity.
You can't remember the last time you did something without your partner
While it's wonderful that you've met someone you want to spend so much time with, space is just as important in a relationship. The old saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' isn't just important to allow yourself time to miss the other person, but also to make sure you're not just caught up in the heat of the moment. If you met through a dating agency for professionals, then you're both driven and motivated people. It's easy to carry this into your relationship patterns and try to progress things too fast.
Time apart is clearly important to give yourself time for your own hobbies and interests, but it also builds trust in the other person. A little jealousy can be healthy, but if you never spend any time apart, your trust in one another and your relationship never has time to grow and develop.
You can't imagine what would happen if you broke up
Maybe you know that you used to have hobbies and interests when you were single that kept you busy. Now, though, all you can imagine in a life without your partner is long evenings spent alone. You don't have to be in a codependent relationship to have lost your autonomy, but it's still an unhealthy sign -- and one which needs to be addressed, because unhealthy patterns develop.
If you feel like you're at that stage already, try to give each other more space. You can even turn to a dating agency for professionals for some relationship training, or try counselling to deal with issues you have that might be causing you to rely too much on your partner.
Make sure that you take time to have some things that you do for you. If you start to feel like you can't imagine a life without your partner, or that your identity is attached to them in some way, it will start putting too much pressure on your relationship.
You have friends that you keep meaning to catch up with
There are many reasons why you should make an effort not to lose touch with your friends when you enter a new relationship. Often, it can be easier if you meet your partner through mutual friends, as you already have friends in common to spend time with together. If you met your partner through an exclusive introduction agency in London, though, or another big city, the chances of you having even one acquaintance in common are slim. Meeting someone through an elite dating agency, for example, often means that the two of you have specific interests and aspirations, sometimes causing others to fall by the wayside.
It's right that your partner should be one of your closest friends, but they shouldn't be your only close friend. It's also important to have your own friends -- not just other couples. If you rely on your partner for all of your social life, then they're bound to disappoint in some way, or you'll end up forcing each other to do things that neither enjoy. Make time at least once a week to meet a friend for coffee who you haven't seen for a while.
Your speech is peppered with "I used to," or "before I met"
An easy way to tell if your identity is defined by your relationship is to watch what language you use when you speak. It doesn't have to be only spoken words, either, but it can be internal thoughts. If you find yourself thinking and saying "before I met... I used to..." in a nostalgic way, then start to question your relationship. It doesn't mean that you have to let go of your other half; it might just mean getting back to doing the things which make you happy, and making time in the day.
Think of when you met your partner, or when you were matched through an exclusive introduction agency in London. What were the things you talked about doing that made them attracted to you, and you to them? Or what particularly stood out in each other's elite dating agency profiles? Was it a particular sport or hobby that you no longer have time for? Have they stopped doing something, too? Try making a pact with your partner to spend time practising your own hobbies for at least an hour a week and see how quickly it makes a difference in your energy levels and happiness with yourself.
If you yourself aren't fulfilled and happy, then you can never be truly happy in a relationship, as you'll find that you're putting unreasonable expectations on your partner. Telling someone that they're your everything may sound romantic on paper, but if that's the reality, then it's time to get some distance before it has a negative influence on the health of your relationship. Take time for yourself, reconnect with old friends and go on trips away. It will make you appreciate and value your relationship so much more.