Become your authentic self in relationships and reap the benefits.
Remember the movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? There's a breakfast scene where Richard Gere asks Julia Roberts what kind of eggs she likes. Her response is "Whatever you're having." She had no clue how she liked her eggs because she always ate them however the man she was with at the time ate them. He replied with "No, what kind of eggs do you like?" And they proceeded to try all the different ways one could eat eggs, until she decided for herself that she preferred eggs benedict.
Unfortunately, I find this a common problem among women. Too often, we aim to please and accommodate our partner in ways we wouldn't do once the honeymoon phase of the relationship is over. The problem from his perspective is it appears over time that we've changed. We'll insist that we haven't; we forgot who we were pretending to be in the beginning because we can't keep the charade going forever.
I know, because I did it for all of my relationships until I figured out how to be authentic in a relationship. I insisted that I wasn't going to settle for less than I deserved again, and in doing so, I discovered a whole lot of things about myself during that self-growth period.
When I determined who the real Stacy was—what she liked and didn't like—I realized that I didn't need to pretend anymore. My man would like the real me or I would move on. If I couldn't be silly, goofy, snort when I laugh, fart in bed, or tell racy jokes with the man I was with, then he wasn't my guy.
I committed to being 100% my own authentic self in my next relationship—and I have been. As a result, I have never been happier. Mario tells me at least a dozen times a week, "You're weird—and I love you for it." He doesn't always say those exact words; most times, he just says "You're weird," but he'll follow it up with a hug, kiss, playful fist bump to my shoulder, or some other endearing gesture. He always says it with affection, and I know I'm loved.
I asked him this morning what it's like from the guy's perspective to be in a relationship with a woman and witness this change. He said, "The truth comes out eventually, and then there's a reduced feeling of trust. When there isn't trust in a relationship, what's left? It usually begins to fade after that. Sometimes, you stay together just because it's easier than leaving, but who wants to be in a relationship with someone you don't trust?"
He also mentioned that many of his friends have this belief that women change after marriage, which is why so many men are reticent to get married. Based on our behavior, even if we think it's for an admirable reason—we care about our partner and we want to please them—it's really because we want to please ourselves by receiving approval.
Your desire to please stems from ultimately wanting approval from your parents. This is evidenced by the fact that we tend to date people who are a reflection of our primary unhealed parental relationship. In order to be fully authentic in your partnership with your mate, you'll want to heal as much of that relationship with your parents as possible. A book that helped me very much that you can find on the Personal Growth & Healing page of my website is Making Peace with Your Parents by Harold Bloomfield, MD. There are excellent therapeutic exercises in there that I know will help you.
Next, you'll want to have a period of self-reflection, similar to Julia Roberts, and ask yourself; "What do I really enjoy doing? What kinds of foods do I like to eat? What shows do I want to watch and what books or magazines do I prefer to read?" Try for a week to only do things that you want to do. Practice saying "no" to things you don't want to do.
Pay attention to how you behave with your best friends and reveal some of those elements with your next few dates. If he runs for the hills because you took too big a bite of spaghetti and you have a strand hanging from your mouth that you slurp up and giggle like a five-year-old after, then he's a man who is unable to appreciate the small joys in life of having fun. And yes, there's a difference between childish and child-like, but that's another day's topic.
More relationship expert advice from YourTango:
- Relationship Advice: 5 More Things Your Mom Never Told You
- The Best Love Advice On YourTango
- The Best Relationship Advice On YourTango