HAVE you ever been in a relationship with someone who seemed to be your perfect match? They shared your interest in films, fitness, or music, you’d laugh at the same things and feel like you could be yourself around them.
But then, over time, something changed. They started to dress, talk and even act more like you. Perhaps they even went as far as competing with you and trying to outdo you. You felt like you were losing your identity and weren’t sure what to do.
If you’ve ever been in this situation, you’re not alone. Personality theft is a common problem in relationships and friendships. It’s when someone becomes so infatuated with another that they start to copy their personality and mannerisms. It’s usually a very subtle process, so it can be hard to notice at first. But over time, it may begin to take a toll on your relationship and sense of self.
But why do people become personality thieves? Often, insecurity and feeling the need to belong to something or someone may play a part. Sometimes, it’s because they are trying to control the other person, or their admiration and maybe envy makes them want to be more like them.
Whatever the reason, personality theft can be a damaging experience if you’re on the receiving end. Not only does it incite feeling like you’re losing your own identity, but it can also prevent you from being yourself in the relationship, which may lead to resentment and conflict.
If you think you might be in a relationship with a personality thief, there are a few things you can do. First, it’s important to talk to your partner. Let them know how their behaviour is impacting you and explain that you need them to respect your individuality. Set boundaries on what is acceptable and what is not. For example, it’s okay to have common hobbies but copying your mannerisms or dressing like you may not be.
Remember, while it’s okay, and wonderful that you inspire your friend or partner to have shared interests, it’s also important that they find their own authenticity.
You could help your partner by encouraging them to reflect on: What are your values? What are your passions? What makes you unique? Reassure them that they don’t have to try to be someone they’re not just to fit in, feel loved, or please others. Encourage them to own their individuality and be proud of it. You never know how much it will boost their self-esteem and help them to celebrate their uniqueness.
If they’re willing to listen and make changes, then great. But if they’re dismissive or defensive, then you may need to reconsider the relationship or spend time with people who don’t undermine your sense of self. Ultimately, finding your own authenticity takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. When you’re true to yourself, not only will you feel happier but everyone around you will benefit from your presence.
Be well, be happy, be yourself.
If you’re struggling with a personality thief in your relationship, consider talking to a therapist to help you develop healthy coping mechanisms. Instagram: @itsmitamistry & Twitter @MitaMistry