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Society has conditioned us to believe that abandonment of the self at the mere whiff of romantic interest or a potential relationship is normal. We think it’s the cost of finding love, so we’re willing to exchange loss of self for someone else’s company or promises. It’s so embedded in the culture that many of us don’t realise that we are not and haven’t been ourselves. That is until the relationship ends abruptly or we wake up knee-deep in an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship.

The problem with trying to become what you think someone wants you to be is that you stop being who you were when you met, never mind who you actually are. 

Based on a minimal understanding of that person’s attraction to you and who they are, you abandon yourself. You take their interest along with the feelings and sense of potential it engenders, and you blend, morph, adapt and basically edit yourself to fit with who you think this person is or could be, or what you think you will get. It’s pure fantasy.

Do you know why it hurts so much when you experience rejection and disappointment despite the lengths you went to to be ‘good’, to be their ‘perfect partner’? It’s that the ‘fake you’ didn’t ‘win’.

You then wonder what you’re doing wrong and possibly tell yourself that maybe relationships aren’t worth the effort. That they hurt too much. It’s like, Wait, so even the version of me that accommodates everything they want and need gets rejected? Wow, I really must be unworthy. See, this is why I can’t let my guard down and be myself. If they won’t love the fake me that caters to their fantasy, what chance does my unworthy self stand?

Healthy, loving relationships allow you to become more of who you really are, not less of it. If you can’t be who you really are without romantic interest, then the version of you that you become isn’t authentic. It’s you being afraid.

Don’t give you up.

You came into this world already worthy, already ‘enough’; various internalised experiences, messages and self-criticisms and judgements convinced you otherwise. Maybe, instead of thinking that relationships not working out is proof positive that you aren’t enough, let them awaken you to the truth that abandoning you to pursue ‘worthiness’ isn’t necessary. By choosing a loving, caring, respectful and trusting relationship with yourself, you will value you too much to dismiss your needs, values and boundaries. And yes, it will take time. Still, if you choose that relationship with you, you will choose it with others by extension.

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