The Importance of Authenticity in Relationships

Even though I don't specialize in couples counseling I find myself talking about romantic relationships a lot with my clients. It makes sense though, relationships are something most of us strive to achieve and maintain most of our lives, whether it's our first boyfriend or lifelong partner.

Because the majority of my clients are females, a lot of them struggle on how to find a partner they can thrive with and how to stay in control of that part in themselves that allows them to feel whole once the relationship ends. It's hard to word but we all know what it means, that thing that makes you feel okay when a relationship ends, even if we sometimes feel like we may have lost it.

As someone who has dated a variety of people in my life, I know the struggle in blending two lives while making sure I remain authentic to myself. It's the relationships where I let go of who I truly was and what I wanted that left me feeling angry and depressed at the end of the day, and sometimes alone at the end of the relationship. Remaining authentic means so many things depending on what stage of a relationship you are in, whether that be looking for someone to share your life with or figuring out how to do so in the long term.

Below is the advice I give to clients, and whether you're 15 or 45, I think it can ring true no matter your age or situation.

Dating can be hard, whether you're 22 or 42. As a therapist, I tell all of my clients the same thing, remain authentic and true to yourself. Here's how.

MAKE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION THE REAL ONE

So many times I hear people telling others to make the best first impression possible, and while that is good advice, when it comes to dating I think people hear to show characteristics that they may not realistically have. For example, if you're a loud and outgoing person, you might approach someone new by toning yourself done and letting them lead the conversation. While this isn't necessarily bad, how long can you honestly keep this up for?

As long as you're being the respectful side of yourself, don't be afraid to be real when you meet someone. The benefits of this is that the person you meet know the authentic you from day one, meaning there's no awkward moment later when they find out you like cheesy Lifetime movies and can talk about space theories for hours. Don't push aside the things that make you who you are, because if it's the right person, they'll embrace those quirks from day one.


DON'T BE AFRAID TO MAKE THE FIRST MOVE

Yes, it's so hard, but you have to work for what you want in life. If you're willing to work hard for a grade or a promotion, why not an awesome date? To make this as comfortable as possible, approach the situation from a platonic way at first. You can invite someone to join a group activity, or mention inviting them next time to gauge their reaction.

If you're an incredibly shy person then don't stress about it. Like I mentioned earlier, don't try to fit a mold you're not to find a partner. If you wanna move things in the right direction but need some help, reach out to a friend or try forming a friendship first to build a connection.

AVOID TRYING TO FLIRT

Think about it, when's the last time you actually enjoyed someone flirting with you? Many long lasting relationships grow out of friendships, mutual interests, or just chance, which is why all the pressure to flirt is so unnecessary!

I just spoke to a client who was telling herself she would flirt with someone this weekend, which is when I asked her how authentic that conversation would be at the end of it all. Instead of flirting, spark up a real conversation, ask a genuine question, or simply introduce yourself in a way that doesn't make them feel as if they are turning you down if they aren't interest. Don't flirt, instead engage!

Dating can be hard, whether you're 22 or 42. As a therapist, I tell all of my clients the same thing, remain authentic and true to yourself. Here's how.

RETHINK YOUR MUST HAVES

As embarrassing it is to admit, I think I can honestly admit to not having any standards before meeting my current boyfriend. This is in no way a dig at my past exes, I just don't think I ever had sat down and thought about what I wanted in a partner and what I wasn't willing to negotiate on.

The clients I see today suffer from having so many must haves on their list, or being very specific about what they interpret a quality to mean. For example, if you want someone to be creative, that shouldn't just include those who are artists, writers and musicians. Creative people also start businesses, manage teams of people and work jobs that from the outside seem ordinary but in fact require a lot of creativity.

Write down what you want in a partner, then take the time to really think about how necessary all those things are. Plus, is it even possible to find one person with all those qualities? Don't forget everyone has flaws, including yourself, so be a little more lenient where you can.

LEARN TO ADAPT

Here's the truth, your relationship is not always going to be exciting. It's harsh, but it's the reality of life. The first few weeks or months are all fun, trying new things, learning about each other, and overall the both of you are still trying to impress the other. Then time passes, and you start to care a little less if your legs are stubbly or if he doesn't really enjoy going to the farmers market with you.

Relationships that last the test of time typically develop a routine, and that routine will include activities you hate doing and others which you cant stand thinking about. Eventually he will forget some special day you two always used to celebrate, and you might too! It's learning to accept that things won't always be exciting that first date, and there's nothing wrong with growing comfortable with someone.



What's the one thing you struggle with most when forming new relationships? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to address it in an upcoming post!

6 comments

  1. This is such great advice and I think a very important read for anyone, regardless of their age. I love the point you made about having a list. I met my fiance two years ago when I wasn't looking for a relationship (that's how they always get you, right?) but more so than not looking, I had no list. I didn't have any set expectations of what I wanted in a partner. Now that we're engaged, I can see how he actually does check off that list that I never even really had outlined in the first place.

    Great post!

    Darrian
    www.darrianmichelle.com

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    1. Yes, you always end up in a relationship while you're preaching about not wanting to be with anyone! I made my list after a less than perfect relationship, which really helped when I found my now boyfriend. He fit it so well I named him my new best friend before I realized we were compatible as a couple.

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  2. Amen sister! I'm still struggling with keeping myself whole in relationships because I see this trend in myself of dulling myself down so maybe I don't scare them off. So I need to work on being 100% myself from the start and also continuing to be that way as the relationship develops. This stuff is hard though!

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    1. It's tough, I'm not gonna lie. I had a guy tell me I was rude and hurt his feeling for a joke I made, but clearly we were never gonna work out in the long run. My best advice is always be authentic though, because it's way too hard to fake it. If they cant appreciate your quirks they'll probably end up getting on your nerves anyways.

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  3. This entire post was full of great advice! I especially liked the part about not trying to flirt. Seventeen magazine always had silly ideas about how to get a boy's attention. Girls should read this advice from you - to be genuine and interesting instead of superficial

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    1. I used to subscribe to that magazine, and Cosmo Girl of course! Yes, the advice they gave was ridiculous, I really hope it's not the same nowadays. I'm definitely gonna pick one up next time I'm at Target now lol

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