No matter what magazine you pick up, you’ll find a section about relationships. Often, they promote the importance of physical attraction and chemistry, encouraging you to look or act a certain way. As a licensed therapist, I understand their view on the importance of chemistry and sex appeal. However, these aspects are not the keys to finding love or even being in a healthy relationship. Rather, these messages that “you’re not good enough” or “you don’t have the right look” only serve to discourage many singles.
When you’re going on a date, it’s normal to want to be attractive or charming. However, trying to be something you’re not or dressing in a way solely to please another takes you away from your authenticity. Authenticity is the most important part of intimacy. When you try to be a certain type of person to meet your date’s desires, the less “you” you become.
Many couples who struggle in their marriage are having an unresolved identity crisis. Often, one will blame their partner for “making them” into someone they’re not, and their partner has no idea they weren’t being their real self. Starting out a relationship hiding who you truly are is setting up trouble for the two of you down the road.
If you’re looking for love and you’re finding dating to be exhausting, cross these things off your list as being helpful:
Trying to take on characteristics that are unnatural for you (e.g. intellectual, lady-like, bold, and flirtatious, etc.)
Getting a whole new look you don’t feel comfortable in
Being anything but honest on your online dating profile
What you need to add to your list
Be prepared to be genuine on your first date – no more, no less. Wear clothes you think are appropriate. Quit thinking you have to impress someone else to be good enough.
Know what makes you happy. Be honest about your interests and hobbies. Don’t pretend to share the same interest as your date if you don’t, but be open and curious.
No one is perfect so be comfortable with your shortcomings. It’s okay to be a little vulnerable on your date by telling them you’re nervous or that your life isn’t perfect. However, remember you are trying to get to know them and it’s not all about you. Don’t immediately unload your emotions on them or bring up stories of bad exes.
Stay away from making snap judgments. If you’re a person who makes a lot of judgments, you’ll be single for a long time. You may want to explore that more with a therapist…not your date.
Relationship tips and advice are abundant no matter where you look. Just remember the more you try to fix yourself (or, worse, your date), the further you get from the openness and trust which are crucial for a healthy relationship. It’s not your shoes or dress that will keep your relationship together several years down the road. Be authentic.