Have you ever witnessed a friend change after getting into a relationship? A red flag goes up when a woman who was politically passionate suddenly begins pouring all of her free time into fishing or hunting with her boyfriend. There are also eyebrows raised when a man who loves sports trades in his cleats for tickets to the opera.
We need to take an interest in what our sweeties’ enjoy, but we have to be careful not to lose ourselves in someone else’s world. We can connect with our honeys while maintaining our own identity.
Always Keep Your Group of Friends and Spend Time with Them Often
College was a great time for me. Perhaps, I didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. Aside from having two good shower stalls on a floor with fifty girls, dorm life really wasn’t so bad. It was like having sisters for the first time (as I am an only child).
One of my biggest regrets during my two years of dorm life was the time I wasted with one particular guy. There was something about him that seized me. After hanging out with him for just a few days, I went to tell him that I was not interested in being in a relationship with him. What happened? I’m not sure! All I know is that the talk didn’t go well and, by the end of the day, we became even closer!
He would e-mail me in the morning. As soon as class was over, we were together. We hung out until curfew, then I would rush upstairs to my room in just the nick of time. I would barely have time to change clothes and my phone would ring. Him again. He did not believe in giving a body much space – and I suppose I did little to stop him.
Before long, my grades started to slip and I felt overwhelmed… a lot. Not to mention my poor friends felt neglected. One night, I came home and saw a “missing” poster one of my friends had drawn of me hanging on my door. “Have you seen this girl?” I think I still even have it somewhere.
After he and I broke up, my friends and I had a picture cutting party. It was nice to bid him farewell for good and to get my life back.
If you ever find yourself dating someone who monopolizes your time and tries to keep you from your friends, consider that a red flag. “Why does he always have to be near me?” “Why is she threatened by my friends?” If your significant other cannot stand to be away from you, you are dealing with an extremely insecure person, a highly selfish one, or both.
Eric and I know that we need time with friends, so we gladly let each other run off and play from time to time. Maintain your identity by maintaining close friendships. Though your friendships may change when you (or they) enter a relationship, they should not cease to exist. Keep your friends high on your priority list. Good friends cannot be replaced. Bring your sweetie into your group of friends, but spend time with them separately as well.
Keep Pursuing Your Passions While Taking an Interest in Your Sweetie’s Passions
Do you love music but your sweetie loves sports? That’s okay. Go to his games, but not on the nights you have choir practice. Go to her performances, but don’t trade in your game night each week to sit and watch her sing.
When one person does all the changing, ditches his or her hobbies, and dives into the other’s world, it won’t take long for him or her to feel completely gypped. “Why did I do all the sacrificing?” “Why did I have to give up what I love?” No matter how in love you are, you are still your own person. You need to think about who you are and not give up passions or walk away from talents which God gave you.
Balance your lives together. Experience each other’s hobbies and passions, but don’t neglect yours in favor of his or hers. You are who you are and you will eventually be sorry if you try to be someone you are not just to please your sweetie.
Know Who You Are BEFORE You Get into a Relationship
One of the best ways to guard your identity is to know yourself well before entering into a relationship. Who are you? What are your passions? What do you dream about at night? What makes you sad? Angry? Elated? When you get to the end of your life, what will determine if you feel like a success or failure? What matters to you? Who matters to you? How do you like your eggs?
If you are still trying to find yourself, you will more easily morph into someone your boyfriend or girlfriend wants you to be; but, later when you discover who you are, your sweetie may be thrown off by your “sudden change.” “What do you mean you hate football and love figure skating?” “What do you mean you want to go on the mission field?” “What do you mean you don’t want to walk down the aisle to the theme song from Cheers?”
If you know who you are – who God made you to be – before you get into a relationship, you can hold fast to your identity as you connect with your sweetie. If you don’t know who you are, you will likely float wherever he or she wants to float. Plus, you need to know what you are looking for in a mate before you start shopping for one. To know what you need, you need to know who you are. Makes sense, right?
New relationships tend to come with powerful feelings. We can lose ourselves in the intoxication if we are not careful. Enjoy connecting with your honey, but be sure to keep a separate life. When your relationship moves into engagement and then marriage, you can blend your lives together; but, still be sure to pursue your interests and passions.
Don’t walk away from who God created you to be. If the relationship is right for you, you won’t have to.
Have you ever found yourself lost in a new relationship?