Note: This Hub was written in reply to HubPages Question, "
What does it REALLY mean when someone in a relationship says that they "Need To Find Themselves?" Did you know they were lost, or unable to find the right map? What aren't they saying - why? What should you do or not do?"
When someone in a relationship says he "needs to find himself" it most likely means he feels that he's lost himself. A good part of the time, the other person may have had a rough idea that there was something wrong in the relationship. Sometimes, however, the other person had no idea.
So how do we get lost when we're in a relationship? One way is that we can find that we can we've taken a detour from the familiar road we once believed would be forever our path, and found ourselves on a road/path that my belong to the relationship but not us, as individuals; or else we find ourselves on a road built for the other person (or even by the other person, with the relationship in mind).
Maybe, though, a more important way in which we can find ourselves lost is when the other person doesn't see us for who we really are; or worse, when, no matter how hard we keep trying to share who/what we are with the other person, he doesn't really know what to do with the information we share.
Although this isn't necessarily the case in the healthiest of relationships, it's a common thing in any relationship between two people (romantic or otherwise) for one or both people to believe that the relationship is more important to one of them than it is to the other. One reason one or both of the partners believe that may be that it's true. Another reason one or both may believe it may be that one or both behave in ways that create the impression in the other. Behaving in a way that doesn't particularly match how one feels is, of course, one way for a person not to be seen by the other. Also, however, when one or both partners believes that one has more invested in the relationship than the other does (whether that's accurate or not), there is a difference in power between the two people. When one person has more of that particular kind of power, that's when it's easy for the other to become lost - first to the other person, and eventually to the individual who feels increasingly invisible, himself.
Whether it's from the dynamics within the relationship, the obscurring of one's heart and soul by the more routine, day-to-day, matters of life, or the feeling of taking a backseat while the other partner, who has more of the kind of power mentioned, seems to overshadow us; we can retreat farther and farther inward - so far, in fact, that we feel far, far, away from life (or from the person we are) and in some distant and inner place where what once helped us to define "our edges" is no longer around us. So, instead of feeling like our previously well-defined selves, we can feel like something/someone different and not be able to figure out how or why to feel like ourselves again.
It is perhaps when we get lost by finding ourselves on a road/path that doesn't resemble the one we thought we were building for ourselves when the other person cannot be blamed (or at least, can't be entirely or always blamed).
In the case of relationships in which there is an imbalance of "emotional power"/investment, however, one reason the other person is often obvlious to what has been taking place within the heart and soul of the other is that the other person (or at least the relationship, itself) has been the cause of the partner's pulling away or inward.
The lost partner may try for quite some time to express what is going on. Sometimes the other person just won't understand. There are other times, too, however, when the other person is simply on a different wavelength and isn't capable of understanding. Either way, it is understanding that would be the beginning of a return of the increasingly lost partner from that far-away place. The trouble is, when early attempts to express thoughts/feelings about what seems to be happening fail, the person who senses he's becoming more and more lost learns that the attempts have been futile and gives up. It doesn't help when the person from whom we are pulling farther and farther away is someone who means well and whose feelings are something we would never want to hurt. Neither does it help when the person who is the cause of the problem doesn't just have more power in the relationship, but has more aggressiveness as well.
When we've begun to feel we're losing our emotional footing in the world (or in a relationship), and when we've begun to pull farther and farther inward in an attempt to at least keep what footing we have when it comes to trying not to entirely lose the rest of who we are; we can find that our only real weapon in our fight to remain ourselves is our ability to pull inward. When pulling a little inward isn't quite enough we tend to withdraw more and more. Why do we do this? One reason is that we believe the place to find ourselves again is within our own heart and mind. Another reason can be that we withdraw to a "place" where the one and only person who understands (and that "one and only person" is, of course, ourselves) will remind us of who/what we are and maybe guide us back to feeling as if we're on solid emotional footing again.
What should one do when someone else says he needs to find himself? There may be no one answer that would be right for everyone in that situation, because relationships, like people, are individual. One thing to keep in mind is that when someone says he needs to find himself there's a really good chance he's been becoming more and more lost for some time. People don't usually feel lost when they first (or temporarily) pulled inward a little. By the time someone is thinking he needs to find himself (and particularly by the time he starts talking about needing to), that person is, I believe, very likely to have made a very long journey inward and need plenty of time and space to find his way back.