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When You're an Imposter in Your Relationship

You may have heard from friends or family the feeling that they suffer from imposter syndrome. Basically, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t what others think you are, whether it’s in your career, your relationships, or your personal endeavors. It’s the feeling that others think you’re more talented, capable, and amazing than you believe is true. Because of this, you constantly worry that people may see the truth and be utterly disappointed in you. These negative intrusive thoughts can invade your romantic life just as they do your professional and family life. It’s especially difficult to build intimacy with your partner when you’re afraid to be authentic and honest in your relationship.

Imposter syndrome is usually more severe in perfectionistic, conscientious people who find themselves trying to take care of and please others. If you feel like an imposter in your relationships, practicing the four suggestions below can help you minimize the intrusive thoughts and live a more authentic life.

1. Break the silence and talk to your partner about how you feel. Feeling inadequate or unworthy of your partner causes shame and that silences us from talking about our feelings. Knowing there is a name and reason you are feeling is the first step in freeing yourself.

2. Make friends with your mistakes. Feeling isolated and stupid when you make mistakes prevents you from taking necessary risks and being honest with your partner. If you hold yourself to impossible standards, you’ll limit yourself and second guess everything you say and do. Begin by repeating this simple mantra: “I am loved because I am authentic - flaws and all.” Or, “I don’t need to succeed to be loved.”

3. Re-write your expectations. If you expect yourself to know the answers to every question or anticipate all your partner’s needs, that’s illogical and irrational. No one can expect you to know everything. When you put that sort of pressure on yourself, you lower your self-esteem because no one could live up to that standard of perfection.

4. Consider therapy. Going to therapy can help you understand where your negative thoughts come from. It can also help you make an action plan for living a life where you feel complete with or without a partner. Feeling more confident helps you chose an equal partner and supports a healthy relationship.

Everyone has insecurities, but when your insecurities limit your ability to be open and truthful in your relationship, you need to make changes. The first step is always the toughest. It involves owning our insecurities instead of projecting the blame onto someone else. It means using our struggle to gain insight and make changes that will help us create a healthy relationship we love. Life is stressful enough without unrealistic expectations; accept the messiness of life and make it a priority to sacrifice a perfect you for an honest you. -Mary Jo Rapini


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