trying to be someone else - Boston terrier in unicorn costume

5 Reasons to Stay True to Yourself in a Relationship

This blog post was inspired by a letter we received from one of our readers.  The letter was genuinely moving.

It was from a woman who had been in a relationship for a long time, trying to be someone else -- what her partner wanted her to be.

After a long time of trying to be someone she wasn’t, the relationship ended. And she found that she somehow had lost herself and had become unsure of who she was.

So, she now had the truly challenging task of trying to find herself, and to stay true to herself once she entered a new relationship.

The letter resonated with me because I have been in a similar situation, more than once.

Sometimes we feel pushed to be someone we're not

Every now and then, we find ourselves under pressure to become someone we’re not.  The pressure can come from various sources.

  • An already established partner may communicate to us, directly or indirectly, that we are not meeting their expectations. We then find ourselves changing, not always willingly, to conform to what our partner expects, if only to keep the peace.
  • Sometimes, we see parts of ourselves that we don’t like so much, and we may like what we see in our partner, or in someone else, more than we like what we see in ourselves. So, we try to become more like that other person, our partner or whomever.
  • We meet someone whom we are really excited about. Maybe we can’t believe our good luck.  But we think, whether rightly or wrongly, that the person will never accept us as we are.  We are too flawed, too different from what someone like that would expect.  So, we try to act in the way we think the potential partner would find more acceptable.

The problem with all of these solutions is that they are solutions to a problem we have invented rather than a problem we really have.

It’s not worth trying to solve the problem of how we can be someone we’re not, because, in two words, “WE CAN’T!”

We are who we are, not someone else.

We can find parts of ourselves that perhaps have not come out in past relationships.  But they have to be genuine parts, kind of like genuine parts for an appliance.

If you buy fake parts for an appliance, more often than not, they either don’t work at the outset or they stop working after a very short time.

Similarly, if we try to fake who we are, very soon, the fakery starts to crumble. It becomes increasingly obvious to our partner but also to ourselves that we are merely playing a role, as in the theater story of love.

5 Reasons to be true to yourself in your relationship

Why shouldn’t you be trying to be someone else, even if you feel you have a good reason, such as keeping the peace of lassoing in a new partner you really desire?

There’s quite a few reasons:

  • It’s fake. Sooner or later, it will become obvious to all that it just isn’t you.
  • You’re acting. When you act a role in a play, you don’t become, outside the context of the play, the person whose role you have taken on.  You revert to being yourself once you’re done playacting.  It’s actually rather awful to think about what it must be like to playact a role from which you cannot escape because you set yourself up.
  • You lose weeks, months, or years of living your own life instead of the life of someone you’re not. Do you really want to be acting in a play, nonstop, year after year?
  • You risk losing yourself. Gradually, you may forget who you really are and later have trouble finding yourself, as was the case for our correspondent.
  • You probably won’t even be successful. Chances are you’re not a professional actor, and that even if you are, you’re not cut out to act in a play that goes on and on, and never ceases.  Eventually, you likely will revert to being who you are, potentially leading your partner to query whether you are the real article.

The bottom line is that if someone doesn’t want you for who you are, you have to consider seriously whether you are in the right relationship.  Obviously, we all can improve; we all can be better.  But there is a difference between improving on who you are and becoming someone you’re not.  Be true to yourself.  Be the best you that you can be.  And if that’s not good enough, ask yourself why you’re there.

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