How to Stay True to Yourself in a Relationship – Psychology Today

Relationship

The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.
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Posted August 23, 2022 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
irtually 100 percent of people—at some time in their attempts to make love work—will compromise their best thinking and some core values to avoid getting dumped, to try to make their marriage work, or to keep the good stuff (ahem) available. This sounds like a good plan, right? But I’m here to tell you this doesn’t work, at least not in the sense of making sure love has a chance to endure.
Yes, you may stay married or together longer if you stop doing something your mate abhors, and that might be a good idea for them, and you, if it’s something like smoking or drinking too much. But that’s not what I’m addressing when I suggest staying true to yourself. Instead, I’m talking about giving up your preferred career, your friends, or some essential part of what makes you who you are.
Personal authenticity starts with accepting ourselves, our sexuality, and our needs as they are. And that is a part of being true to ourselves. If you give up a core part of who you are to save the relationship, you have essentially destroyed what you were trying to save because your real self is not even there.
A relationship is only real, only sustainable, when the two adults in it are authentically themselves. Imagine if we are pretending to be someone we’re not: How is that supposed to work out over a lifetime? Acting any way other than yourself is simply an unsustainable band-aid to a compatibility problem. If we can’t be ourselves in the relationship, we’re not really compatible, and we’re simply not capable of loving one another as we are.
Resolve to ignore the foolish tendency to please someone into liking you. There is no way you can make someone like you because there is no way we can control the feelings of another. Some of you might be thinking, Maybe…but you can at least influence them, can’t you? No, you can’t, and I can prove it to you.
Remember the last time you hated someone; now imagine being guilt-tripped into forgiving that someone. Can you make yourself stop hating them and love them? For the majority of us, the answer is, “No, of course not, that’s not how feelings work.” Think about it: If you can’t control your own feelings, how can you ever hope to control the feelings of another? That’s right, you can’t, so stop trying.
Instead of convincing your partner to like you, stay true to yourself. Believe it or not, there is someone out there who will like you for you. Imagine, for a moment, this someone is a bus, and you’re waiting at the bus stop. You keep seeing Bus #2 and Bus #5, but you’re looking for Bus #1. It’s frustrating and time-consuming, but you must wait because all those other buses are headed for a destination other than the one you want. So it’s best to wait for Bus #1 because it (rather, your future partner) will be worth the wait. After all, you are.
Facebook image: PeopleImages.com – Yuri A/Shutterstock
Steven Ing, MFT, has been a Marriage and Family Therapist for 30 years and is the author of two books on sexuality, We’re All Like This and Get Busy Living.
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The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.

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