Not being your authentic self in relationship can occur in a variety of ways.
Maintaining your individuality while in intimate romantic relationships is an important aspect of developing a healthy and sustainable relational dynamic. Most people want to be in a relationship where they feel a deep sense of love, comfort, and security but may not know how to create that without feeling tension in the relationship.
Many of us learn that to be in relationship with a romantic partner we need to make certain sacrifices and compromises, or maybe we even feel the need to hide a part of ourselves that may not be acceptable in order to meet society’s expectations of what a successful relationship should be. More often than not, this leads to a relationship fraught with dysfunction, secrecy, and often lacking the true intimacy and closeness many couples desire.
This begs the question, how does one remain true to their self and feel free to be their “whole person” while being in relationship with someone else? In a society of celebrated co-dependent love songs, Hollywood movies with happy endings, and spoken/unspoken messages from loved ones about how to be in relationship we find ourselves immersed in a culture of failing relationships. Current divorce rates are over 50%*, infidelity rates are surpassing 40%*, and partners are often gravely unsatisfied with how they are able to express themselves in their relationships.
Not being your authentic self in relationship can occur in a variety of ways. Some are as subtle as asking your partner what they want for dinner even though you know you really want your favorite comfort food that evening. Others are more significant, such as abandoning or neglecting relationships with friends or family in order to keep your partner(s) interested in being in relationship with you. Another might be not speaking your truth due to fear your partner won’t accept you.
Over time, these situations begin to weigh on you and can lead to a plethora of unhealthy patterns filled with resentment, anger, passive-aggressiveness, emotional reactivity, a deep feeling of emptiness, disconnection, lack of empathy, hopelessness and a general, underlying sense of anxiety and/or depression.
If any of the above sounds familiar, ask yourself these 3 questions to see whether you are giving up too much of your individuality for your relationship.
Do you feel you can express what you truly want and that it will be received by your partner(s)?
Are you able to maintain your own interests and hobbies despite the fact they may be different from the other person’s proclivities?
Can you proudly say that you are acting in your life from a place of integrity and truth in the decisions you make and how you choose to communicate them?
Whether you start to journal about your experiences for personal reflection, seek advice and support from loved ones, or begin working with a trained therapist it is important to begin to re-draw the lines of who you are and who you want to be in your relationship to create more satisfaction and fulfillment.
When referring to relationships, two halves don’t make a whole. The most satisfying relationships happen when two ‘whole’ people come together to create a third entity, known as the relationship.
By returning your attention and focus to yourself and differentiating from your partner you are able to create a whole and functioning system within yourself, with a greater ability to create a whole and functioning system in your relationship. A relationship where you will actually enjoy more of your time with your partner, deepen the value and respect of your relationship, and create more intimacy and fun in your life!
Erika Bennet, LMFT
Erika approaches the therapeutic relationship from a somatic (meaning “of the body”) orientation and taking a 360-degree point of view of who you are emotionally, intellectually, physically, sexually, energetically, spiritually, materially, cosmologically (you name it!) with genuine curiosity and acceptance. In working with you as a couple, we explore the dynamics of what makes your relationship tick and what keeps it out of balance. We learn how to use this information as a rocketship of empowerment in healing old wounds, developing a relationship with yourself—first and foremost—and therefore creating a more satisfying and fulfilling relationship between you and your partner. Learn more about our therapists: San Francisco Couples Therapists