Are you trapped in a “fake” relationship? Combining love with the world of make believe can be exhausting, whether you’re eating your mate’s horrible cooking with a forced smile or pretending to get along with his/her friends. It’s even more challenging when you’re keeping secrets. Does your partner know about your bad credit or the wild night your freshman year of college that landed you in jail? Maybe you’re hiding something that’s not bad but a bit embarrassing … like your obsession with campy 70s movies or Weird Al Yankovic songs.
It’s time to stop holding in your true opinions, flabby stomach and farts (yes, even after broccoli salad and black bean soup) and be yourself. The only way to find true love is to keep it real. When I was single, I struggled with this because I was raised in the Midwest where we reveal things to our partner on a “need to know” basis. I’ve heard stories of people who surprised their spouses with everything from “honey, I booked us a weekend get-a-way to Miami” to “honey, I haven’t paid the mortgage for three months.” My husband is from the East Coast where holding back the truth is unheard of. When we first started dating, he insisted that I be my authentic self. No airs. We’ve taken countless journeys together from entrepreneurship to marriage to parenthood. Almost half a decade later, we’re still going strong. I think that’s because our emphasis on honesty. Here’s a guide for anyone who wants a fulfilling relationship with someone who loves you for you.
1. Know yourself
Who are you? It may seem like a silly question, but it’s one you need to really ask yourself. Take inventory of your successes and failures. Reflect on each phase of your life starting with your childhood. What do you believe about yourself? How do you feel about it? Honestly. Are you happy with who you are? If not, what are some of the steps that could change that. Maybe it’s taking the last credits to complete your degree, getting closure with a family member or taking a long weekend to decompress alone. My intention is not to go “Dr. Phil” on you, but it’s important to remember that all of us have baggage… how you carry it is they key. When it’s time for you to connect with the right person, you’ll be more at peace with the person you are.
2. Love yourself
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, “you have to love yourself before you can love anybody else.” There’s a reason people say it so often. Self-love is essential to a healthy relationship. Loving yourself means that you stop hurting yourself. Put an end to self-destructive habits and cut off ties to toxic people. Loving yourself must be unconditional… when you look like the cover of a magazine and when the mirror isn’t so kind, when you’re working your dream job and when the boss hands you a pink slip, when you’re driving a shinny new car and when you’re counting quarters for bus fare. No one will love you through the ups and downs if you don’t.
3. Be yourself
It’s vital to keep it real from the start. If you don’t like raw fish, don’t agree to go to a sushi restaurant just to please your date. If he/she is liberal and you’re conservative, don’t hide your Tea Party views just to get to the bedroom. Couples that don’t see eye to eye can have long lasting marriages like James Carville (Democratic consultant) and his wife, Mary Matalin (Republican strategist.) A relationship is actually more interesting when you don’t always agree. There’s more passion and excitement. As long as you both have respect for each other, you’ll find joy and humor in every debate. Most of all, being yourself is a license to relax. You don’t have to remember any lies or practice your acting skills… you can just be you. What could be better than that?