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Confessions Of A Girl On Self Love After A Series Of Failed Relationships

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“Never lose yourself in a relationship. Love your partner fiercely, but always follow your unique dreams and desires. Be true to yourself.” ~Unknown

All my previous relationships drained me. Not only because I was with the wrong men and kept trying to make things work, but also because I was also an expert at justifying, accommodating, and compromising on numerous things.

I accommodated men because I wanted to be liked and avoid rejection. I justified their lousy behaviour because I wanted to be in a relationship and not be alone. I compromised on my values and romantic ideals just to have someone in my life. On the surface, I was an independent woman, strong, fierce, and full of energy and opinions. When it came to relationships, I’d lose my power and myself completely in them. I would become meek with no voice or opinions. I would put my husband’s needs first and ignore mine. I would keep quiet about how I felt.

I wouldn’t question things. It took me a few more attempts and one year of constant dating to recognise my unhealthy patterns.

Firstly, I was subconsciously copying the behaviour of my mum, who needed to survive with my despotic dad in a very turbulent relationship. I didn’t know any better until I learned the hard way.

Secondly, I didn’t feel worthy of love. I didn’t feel like I was good enough for anyone. I was afraid to be myself, as I didn’t feel like I had much to offer.

Thirdly, I wasn’t happy with myself and my life, and I believed a relationship would change that, so my desire to be in one was pretty strong.

These patterns made me feel and act like I was desperate for love. So, once I landed myself a husband, I’d do anything to please him and keep him in my life.

I would be a cheerful giver. I would take all the responsibility for the relationship on my own shoulders. I would make my man’s life easier by doing things for him and sometimes that would mean going against myself. I would accommodate busy schedules, moods, and issues. I would help him, and my other partners work on their self-esteem and lifestyle so they’d feel happier within. I would completely disappear in my relationships.

self-love is true love

Everything in my relationships was about the men. They became my main focus and the most important thing in my life.

I would abandon myself. I would give up my friends, my passions, and my dreams. I would lose my own identity in the name of love. My main priority was to keep them happy so that I could be in those relationships.

But even all the crazy giving and accommodating wouldn’t keep dysfunctional relationships going. So, when it came to an end, I would have nothing left to give.

Every breakup left me feeling empty. It almost felt like a little part of me died after every relationship. I didn’t know who I was anymore because I was focusing so heavily on the relationship that I’d completely neglect myself. It didn’t feel healthy at all.

When I started to become more aware of my patterns and how harmful they were to me and my love life, I made some promises to myself.

1. The relationship with myself comes first

2. A man will never be more important to me than I am to myself

3. I will always love myself more than any man in my life

Although they might sound a bit selfish, these rules have served me and my relationship amazingly well so far.

The truth is, your relationship with yourself is the most important one in your life. Also, it is the foundation of any other relationship, so it makes sense to prioritise and nurture it.If you love someone else more than yourself, you will always compromise too much, ignore the red flags, get hurt, and lose yourself in your relationships.

You can’t love healthily unless you love yourself first. Also, the love for yourself will help you set stronger boundaries in relationships, protect yourself, and find the courage to walk away from any relationship that doesn’t serve you.

Along with these promises, I also made a decision that I wanted to create something different in my love life. I wanted to create a healthy and happy relationship, unlike the one my parents had and the ones I’d had in the past.

To do that, I needed to become someone different. Not really a different person, but become braver and more authentic in my relationships.

Otherwise, what is the point? I needed to start speaking my mind, expressing my feelings and asking for what I wanted. I simply needed to become more vulnerable in my relationships.

Firstly, I took a break from dating and focused on becoming happier and stronger.

Secondly, when I found the right person, I had some new rules in place to support myself in staying strong in my relationship. I didn’t want to lose myself in a relationship again. Because losing yourself is far more painful than losing a relationship. And it will take you forever to find your strength, dignity, and truth again.

Here are some things I did differently, before and after getting into a new relationship, that you can do too to make sure you don’t lose yourself.

1. Establish a strong foundation while you are single

We lose ourselves in relationships because we don’t feel worthy of love. When you love yourself, you know how you want to feel and be in your next relationship. You also set healthy boundaries, which prevents you from losing your identity in a relationship. Stop people pleasing. You matter!

When you start following the path of self-love, you will start showing up differently in your life and your relationships.

2. Know who you are

Know your needs. Know your desires. Know your dreams. Know your values. Know your priorities. Know yourself basically. This knowledge will prevent you from compromising too much in a relationship. Your strong sense of self will help you stick to what is truly important to you. This will give you a sense of security, which comes from within and not from your relationship.Your needs will be different a few months down the line. Your priorities will be different, as we are always growing and evolving.

The goal isn’t to define yourself in rigid terms, but to understand what you need and want at this point in your life. Have strong boundaries.

Things you won’t tolerate. Things you don’t want to compromise on. Things you don’t want in your relationship. And communicate them so that your partner knows and respects your limits.

Healthy boundaries will make you feel stronger and more empowered in your next relationship. If you don’t honour your boundaries, you will feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and drained. Healthy boundaries prevent you from losing yourself in love.

3. Have your own friends

It’s very easy to get infatuated in a new relationship and forget about the whole world outside. As much as it’s a natural part of every new relationship, don’t forget about your friends.Plan well and spend time with them. They’ve been your rock and a sounding board many times and can be now as well. Don’t limit your life just to your new partner. You need some other perspective. Have your own life.

4. Keep doing the things you love

Just because you are in a relationship that doesn’t mean you need to give up the things you love doing — even if you feel tempted, especially at the beginning when things are exciting, and you want to spend as much time with the person as possible. It’s important to maintain your normal routine as you can.

Make time for the things you love doing. Make them your priority because they contribute to your happiness, so they are just as important as your relationship. Have time for your hobbies. Plan some time every week when you do things separately. Schedule solo dates. Cultivate a spiritual practice. Stick to your exercise routine.

The time you spend on your own will help you nurture the relationship with yourself and keep your independence. Stay true to yourself.

5. Don’t suddenly change who you are for someone else

For example, don’t suddenly pretend you’re a football lover just because your husband likes football or don’t force yourself to go shopping with your girlfriend just to please her. Be honest with yourself and communicate what you like and what you don’t with your partner.

6. Speak your mind

Also, make some independent decisions. You don’t need to consult your partner about every single decision. Express your opinions. Share your thoughts. Speak your mind. Tell them how you feel. All of these will help your partner to understand you better. Communicate openly.

Talk about how you feel. Talk about what isn’t working for you. Talk about what you like and dislike. Even tell your new partner that you are afraid of losing yourself in the relationship again. I did, and my partner supported me in trying to maintain my own identity. Honest and open communication will only bring your closer. You can only improve a relationship when you know what is not working. So, talk openly!

7. Reflect back on your relationships

How you felt, how you compromised, how you betrayed yourself. Our previous relationships can give us a huge amount of knowledge about ourselves. So, look at the mistakes you have made in the past and learned from them. Decide what you don’t want to repeat and what you want to do differently in your next relationship. Commit to staying strong and true to yourself. Set the rules which you are going to follow once you meet someone—you can use the ones I created for myself or create your own!

Healthy relationships start from a healthy relationship with yourself. The stronger your relationship with yourself, the lesser the possibility that you will lose the sense of self in your next relationship.You can build strong foundations now by getting to know yourself, exploring life on your own, and establishing habits which make you happy.We should not judge. When you feel strong within, and when you meet the right person, you will stay grounded throughout the first phase of dating and have a better judgement.

Healthy relationships are created by two strong and complete individuals who can exist independently as well.

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  1. Natasha Rastogi

    I am so much in love with this article<3

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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