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    Loving Without Losing Yourself

    By Allie Ochs, Relationship Expert, Coach

    Reprinted with permission.

    You are in love and this time it is different. 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!

    Kyra fell head-over-heels for Dan and went out of her way to create a wonderful relationship. She found herself at hockey games, 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, she cut her hair short, wore less make-up and a conservative wardrobe. For Dan, this relationship was perfect. 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 necessary, 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 one or both withhold affection until the evidence is in that the other is hooked. I love you, if you love me first has become a Fearing that you will give more love than you receive, you put your partner on probation. You judge according to your expectations and keep track of his or her scores. The higher the scores, the more you are willing to love. This conditional view creates tremendous emotional insecurity.

    All-consuming or halfhearted relationships are unhealthy and 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. 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 what 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 or 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!

    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. Become lovable by being loving. Learn to trust by trusting yourself. Here is the number one reason for losing yourself in a relationship: Your belief that love is something you either deserve or not! This misguided belief leads you to do almost anything to get love and even more to hold onto it:

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

    If you can believe that there is nothing you have to be or do to earn love, 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 will ever learn. It is a purposeful interdependence through which you become so much more than on your own. Love is not something to be found, rather it is in you to share. Don't turn your back on love every time it touches you, because when you give up on love you give up on yourself.

    (c) Allie Ochs is a speaker, relationship coach and author of: Are You Fit To Love? Her book has received the honorable mention at the USA 2004 Best Book Awards. She has appeared on TV, Radio and is published in numerous magazines and newsletters.

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