How many relationship rules have you heard in your life? Too many to count, I’d bet.
“Wait three days before calling.”
“Laugh at his jokes and act very interested.”
“Tell him you have plans (even when you don’t) and act disinterested.”
“Don’t drink too much, talk about your ex, or have sex on the first date.”
The underlying message in all of these rules is “ignore what you want and who you really are and play a role that’s not really you.”
As if that’s going to help you find true love. How could anyone ever find “true” love when they’re not telling the truth?
The Rules—whether they’re the ones made famous by that book in the 90’s or just the random adages you heard from Aunt Betty—are not helpful if they’re not consistent with how you really feel.
If you’re doing anything just because you think you should or because someone told you to, you’re not going to end up with the kind of relationship you’re looking for. Lying means your relationship is built on lies. It can’t be any other way.
Sure, playing hard to get might seem exciting to some guys and they might ask you out once or twice. But as soon as you get tired of playing and pretending, your true self will come through and the jig will be up.
I bought it, too
This all seems painfully clear and obvious to me now. But still, I remember a time when I was younger and single and just a little insecure and I felt utterly baffled by men and relationships. I was desperate for any information that would help me crack the relationship code.
Even though something about masking my true self and ignoring my desires felt creepy and downright wrong, I was willing to try it. I mean, the book was a bestseller for crying out loud. There had to be something more I could learn.
I was willing to give shaping-myself-to-fit-someone-else’s-needs a fair shot.
And if you’re in that place now, it’s totally okay. It’s kind of a rite of passage, even.
We all feel vulnerable in relationships. We’re all afraid to reveal ourselves to another person and be honest and open and “out there” for potential rejection. That’s why it’s so easy to buy into artificial rules that allow you to hide.
But those kind of rules don’t work. The only way you’re going to end up in an honest, sustainable relationship is to be You from the beginning. If I were starting all over, I’d make that my only rule.
And when you think about it, it really doesn’t get much easier than that.
Amy Johnson, Ph.D. is a psychologist and master certified coach. She writes a popular blog full of down-to-earth, achievable steps to living a happier, more enlightened life at www.DrAmyJohnson.com. Grab her FREE ebook on getting out of your own way to create the life you want.