Identity Amnesia in Love: Forgetting Who You Are
Some relationships overshadow and drown you. They drag you into a form of obsessive passion where you forget where you come from and where you’re going. All that matters to you is revolving your life around your partner, reducing your whole universe to just the two of you, at the exclusion of everyone and everything else. When this happens, you might find yourself suffering from identity amnesia.
It’s not that you’re suffering a total or even partial loss of memory. It’s not a clinical disorder that appears in diagnostic manuals. However, the experience is quite similar to brainwashing as you feel confused, with altered thoughts. You might even change the way you are.
Some relationships make you prioritize your partner so much that you lose your relationships with your family and friends. These loves are like black holes, they engulf every fiber of your being, erasing your values, and diluting your own character as you become more entangled in your partner. Living in this dreamlike state isn’t good in the long term.
Many of us think that we’ll never lose our dignity for anyone, even less in love. However, no matter what our experience or social situation, we can all find ourselves falling into a toxic and dependent relationship. It’s a common experience.
Identity amnesia in love: what it is and why it happens
Victims and victimizers abound in the game of love. For instance, there are those who are subject to the will of their loved ones, while others are especially skilled at dominating their partners. You might think that those who end up in painful and dependent relationships are weak with little personality.
However, the reality is completely different. In fact, anyone is susceptible to falling into relationships based on domination and emotional dependence. It doesn’t matter how old or at what stage of your life you are. The fact remains that some loves are blinding and gradually blur your own temperament and strengths in favor of the other person. In these circumstances, it’s really easy to forget your own priorities and your respect for yourself.
Amnesia of identity in love is a phenomenon in which you become subject to an alien will. The passion and emotional intensity is so powerful that only your loved one matters. Dimensions such as work, family, or friendships come second. Furthermore, you might even leave them behind if there’s a conflict of interest.
Your partner will be a priority at all times and in any circumstance. Moreover, you even put them above yourself. Nothing matters more than your blinding love. It engulfs everything.
Sometimes, you can distance yourself so much from your own personal essence for love, that you stop recognizing yourself.
Becoming “we” and losing your self
There are some relationships in which the ‘we’ becomes more relevant than the ‘I’. Obviously, being a couple implies creating a joint space in which to strengthen ties, reach agreements, and share values and goals. However, the moment identities are diluted and individual needs no longer matter, everything goes to waste.
This phenomenon is explained by the concept of relationship contingent self-esteem (RCSE). Research conducted by the University of Houston (USA) claims that this means a person’s self-esteem depends exclusively on their own relationship. In other words, they have a positive view of themselves only if their partner reinforces it.
This is damaging because, when your self-esteem doesn’t depend on you, nor on the vision you have of your social or work life, your psychological balance becomes fragmented. In effect, you become captive of a person who has you in the palm of their hand.
You might enjoy good self-esteem until you fall passionately and obsessively in love. At that moment, your happiness is captured by your relationship and it becomes the absolute epicenter of your entire life. That’s when your fortress begins to break down.
Identity amnesia and the false illusion of happiness
A study conducted by the University of Southwest China claims that falling in love intensifies the regions of the brain linked to reward systems. The regulation of emotions is altered and there’s greater motivation to focus exclusively on the loved one.
These mechanisms are really similar to those experienced by an addict. The brain only thinks about being close to the other person, the rest often loses value and priority. Identity amnesia is one more process of this form of emotional addiction. It implies forgetting who you are ‘to be the other’. The most dangerous thing is that you assume that this way of life offers you absolute bliss.
However, gradually, you end up realizing that living on the periphery, excluded from your own being and values, fills you with emptiness. Because you’re not just a lover, you’re a friend, a family member, a work colleague, a person full of their own dreams and individual desires. If you lack these dimensions, you’ll never find real happiness.
How can you prevent identity amnesia in love?
Your brain is programmed to fall in love and feel the maximum euphoria of romance and passion. You need to create links with others to be happy. Just be careful, as these links shouldn’t have shackles, but wings to allow you to grow in all directions; emotionally, personally, workwise, etc.
As a rule, identity amnesia in love usually starts in the early stages of a relationship. It’s that moment when you want to excessively please your partner. You want them to love you, you want to make them happy, and this leads you to lose your individuality. Almost without realizing it, you become an extension of your partner in your attempt to please them.
You must avoid this at all costs. Indeed, if you want to avoid codependency and becoming a mere key chain for your partner, make it clear who you are and what you want in the early stages of the relationship. Loving doesn’t imply pleasing your partner all the time. Healthy love means sharing, respecting both your identities and encouraging each other’s growth. It also involves creating a ‘we’ made up of a ‘you’ and a ‘me’, but a ‘me’ that remains completely free and independent.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Solferino, Nazaria & Tessitore, M.. (2019). Human networks and toxic relationships. 10.13140/RG.2.2.18615.68001.
- Song H, Zou Z, Kou J, Liu Y, Yang L, Zilverstand A, d’Oleire Uquillas F, Zhang X. Love-related changes in the brain: a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015 Feb 13;9:71. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00071. PMID: 25762915; PMCID: PMC4327739.
- Knee, C. & Canevello, Amy & Amspoker, Amber & Cook, Astrid. (2008). Relationship-Contingent Self-Esteem and the Ups and Downs of Romantic Relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology. 95. 608-27. 10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.118.