Identity and Anxiety in Relationships

Relationships are a good thing. Relationships not only give us support and community, but they also give us hope. However, the one thing a relationship shouldn’t give you is identity. Your identity is unique to you, and you alone. Searching for your identity in a friend, family member, girlfriend, or boyfriend will only leave you hurt and more confused. Sometimes in relationships, friendships, and dating we realize these relationships are holding us back from who we are supposed to be.

You’re in a season of life where you’re making big decisions on who you are, and who you want to be. Forming your identity. That being said, how do we find relationships that add to us rather than deplete us of our true potential? How do we find our identity, not through relationships, but ourselves?

What Is Your Identity?

Let’s start by breaking down what your identity is. The dictionary describes identity as the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another. Identity can also be described as knowing the boundaries of where you end and where someone else begins. Let me paint you a picture of what this may look like. You are circle #1 and another person, a friend, family member, or partner, is circle #2. Your circle is full of your unique hobbies, interests, friends, goals, and so on. Circle #2 is filled with another person’s hobbies, interests, friends, goals, and so on. When these two circles become enmeshed, you start to lose sight of who you are. A healthy picture would be circle #1 and circle #2 being connected, but still separate.

When we enmesh, we fail to know where we end and where someone else begins causing an identity issue. Are you enmeshing right now in a relationship? If the answer is yes, it’s important to know when to remove yourself from the relationship. Anxiety, insecurity, and pain can all be emotions that are stemming straight from your relationships. People hold us back when we don’t know who we are. This can cause tension in a relationship, which will begin to cause not only frequent arguments and disagreements but also insecurities and resentment.

3 Things We Can Learn About Identity and Relationships

  1. People can hold us back from our potential. Oftentimes our identity gets intertwined with other people, which can create identity confusion. Imitating someone else, mimicking other’s actions or behaviors, or doing things we wouldn’t normally do are all signs of identity pressures or insecurities. These actions, in the long run, can lead to anxiety, confusion, and emptiness. You need choose to relationships that push you to towards your true potential, bring out the best in you, and encourage you to be your authentic self.
  2. We need to become who we are. It’s no secret that unlocking your true potential doesn’t come easy. Pressures to fit in, impress others, and feel loved are all serious concerns that make finding your identity challenging. Setting boundaries for yourself and the relationships you choose to be in will not only help you avoid connecting with people who don’t accept you for you, but will also help you avoid pain, anxiety, and insecurity. Ask yourself, what makes you, you? What are the core values within you? Once you can answer these questions, you can identify what makes you unique.
  3. You can become stronger than before. We have all struggled with our identity. And, the good news is that you can become stronger because of it. All relationships teach us things. Things we can then turn around and teach others. Growth is powerful. Finding your identity and creating boundaries in relationships is something to be proud of because it’s not easy. Nothing easy is ever worth having, right?

Knowing who you are is knowing where you end and where someone else begins. Take some time and write down who you are. The things/qualities that are uniquely you. Then, we here at Curate Hope, encourage you to look to the future. Where do you see yourself? Are you surrounded by people who are going to push you towards your true potential? These are questions that will help you set boundaries, stay true to yourself, and save you from the pain and anxiety identity insecurity can cause. 

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Will Hutch

Will Hutch is a motivational speaker, author, and mental health advocate. He is founder and president of Curate Hope, a nonprofit organization that partners with educators and parents to help heal anxiety and despair in kids and teens.

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