Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator. She has counseled individuals and couples for over 35 years. She has some insight into this inner condition that many keep to themselves.
My client Tamara had an interesting issue. She wanted a partner to share her life with, but she kept running into the same problem: As soon as she found someone she could see that happening with, she would lose interest.
If you've been in a similar situation, fear not: This is actually very normal. Losing interest in the other person is generally a sign of fear of losing yourself in a relationship. Most people have two major fears in relationships: The fear of being rejected and losing the other person, and the fear of losing themselves—of being engulfed and controlled by the other person.
Underlying the fear of losing yourself is the fear of rejection. The reason people lose themselves in relationships is that they believe if they give themselves up and comply with what the other person wants, then they can have control over not being rejected by that person. But giving yourself up to the other person is a rejection of yourself, and the eventual result of this is often a loss of interest in the other person.
You lose love when you lose yourself.
We sustain love when we love ourselves—not when we try to have control over getting love by sacrificing ourselves. When you feel lovable and worthy within because you are loving yourself, you get filled with love, which you can then share with a partner. But if you abandon yourself by giving yourself up and complying with what you think your partner wants, you have no love within to share with your partner.
Often, you give yourself up to try to have control over getting love and avoiding rejection, believing that someone else’s love is what will make you feel full, safe, worthy, and lovable. But trying to get filled and feel a sense of worth by getting your partner’s love is like trying to get filled and have a sense of worth by any other addiction—it feels good for the moment, but it soon leaves you feeling empty, alone, and yearning for more. Eventually, because you can’t share love when you are abandoning yourself, and because you feel empty within from losing yourself, you will lose interest.
How the pattern keeps repeating—and what to do about it.
Obviously, until you learn to love yourself, you will keep repeating this pattern. No matter how attracted you are to someone at the beginning of a relationship, as soon as you give yourself up to that person, you will start to lose that attraction.
When you do your inner work of learning to truly see, value, and love yourself, then you will no longer fear rejection because you are no longer rejecting yourself. When you no longer fear rejection, then you will no longer give yourself up to try to have control over getting love. You will be far more interested in sharing love than in getting love, and it’s the sharing of love that keeps love alive in relationships.
Adding to this is the fact that until you learn to love yourself, you will attract people who are also abandoning themselves in some way and who are trying to have control over getting your love—just as you are doing with them. Perhaps the partner you attract tries to get your love by being angry and demanding or by being needy and trying to guilt you into giving him or her what he or she wants from you.
These common relationship dynamics are the inevitable result of self-abandonment, because abandoning oneself will always lead to trying to have control over getting the needed love. So when you try to get love by giving yourself up, and the other person tries to get love by being needy or demanding, it won’t take long to lose interest in this relationship. Creating a loving relationship starts with learning to love yourself.