We all have a desire to love and be loved. We want to share our lives with someone, not live them alone. We want to have the kind of intimacy where someone thoroughly knows us deep down inside and we them. Yet, in an effort to find that special someone, we often try to pretend to be someone other than who we really are – someone “better”, to lesser or greater extents, whatever that might mean.
Behind that pretence is the underlying question: Are you happy with yourself. “Of course I am”, you might think. And maybe you are, but then why are you trying to be somebody else? Maybe you’ve done some internal stock taking and decided you come up short. We are, after all, our own worst critics.
When it comes to that crucial first impression it can be tempting to appear to be more successful, more refined, more developed mentally, physically, socially, spiritually, etc. than we actually perceive ourselves to be, which begs the question ”who are you trying to impress”. The “you” behind your ego might think, “Isn’t it obvious. I’m trying to impress myself.”
Time goes on. Your façade becomes more embellished. “Yes, I love Monet”, you say, while making a mental note to Google Monet when you get home. Your interest in yoga elicits a an invitation to join in a yoga class, which you turn down because you’re a little rusty, neglecting to mention that your entire experience of yoga consists of two classes in college twenty years ago. They want three children and you want two Ferraris. “We’ll talk about it later”, you say. You want to talk about it never, because you don’t want to shatter the illusion of this prefect…pretty good…well, good enough relationship.
Sometimes the pretence fails before the clock strikes midnight. Sometimes people can sustain it over several dates, into a full-time relationship, or long enough to move in together. In some cases the pretence can be sustained into marriage. When there is any longevity, there is a good chance that your partner is complicit in the pretence.
True natures eventually dominate. The facades begin to crack. Discoveries are made. There is a pack of cigarettes in the night table that must be ten years old, because you’ve both been non-smokers for over a decade. The muesli box has been refilled with Captain Crunch. The alledged Thich Nhat Hanh book on the Kindle is really Football Digest. You’re jokes are no longer funny, if they ever were. You just can’t take one more episode of DR. Phil.
When the end comes, your partner looks at you sadly and says, “You’re not the person I fell in love with.” And they’re right. You never were that person.
Maybe some of us are so afraid of rejection that we would rather be rejected for who we are not than take the chance of being rejected for who we are. It can be a bit scary to be yourself, especially when so much of the outside world seems geared towards reinforcing the belief that you’re not good enough, then telling you what you need to buy or try to change that.
Stop listening to those people. They don’t know what’s best for you, nor do they care. Listen to your friends, but don’t feel like you have to agree with everything they say. The person you should be listening to most is you, the person who ignored the “ding ding” of the alarm going off back on that first night when you’re date seemed to be just a little too interested in “The X Factor”.
To find the soul mate relationship you were dreaming about back in the first paragraph before everything went pear shaped you first need to have an open and honest relationship with yourself. When you are authentic in yourself, you invite people to be authentic with you. When you are comfortable and accepting of who you are, you attract that comfort and acceptance from others. When you can love yourself as you are, you are open to being loved for who you are. Be true to yourself first, and the rest will follow.