We all want to be loved by a partner who sees us for who we are – and
embraces us. Yet sometimes in relationships it’s easy to think that
honesty is not necessarily the best policy, especially when it comes to
our innermost thoughts and feelings.
After all, if expressing what you truly want or feel can result in losing your partner, then it’s probably better to stifle it, right? Wrong!
No matter what stage of a relationship you’re in – whether you just met, have been dating awhile, are living together, or are engaged or married – the single most important component in a fulfilling long-term partnership is personal authenticity. In other words, you’ve got to be yourself and express yourself, if you want to be satisfied in love.
Here’s a step by step guide to a new approach – starting from the inside out.
Reconnect to you
It’s easy to lose track of who we really are in a love relationship – whether it’s because we’re wrapped up in the romance, or distracted by day-to-day life. That’s not a judgment, it’s just that maintaining self-awareness simply takes work. As such, it’s vital to your personal fulfillment that you check in with yourself regularly to monitor those changes, stay attuned with yourself and adapt accordingly. It’s also important to your relationship. Why? Because before you can get what you truly want from a partner, you have to know exactly what that is (and vice versa)! Life happens, and no matter how in-touch we think we are, we all grow and change – all the time. Ask yourself if it’s time for some self-discovery. The answer is almost certainly going to be yes.
Find your ever-changing truth
Since everyone is a work in progress (and yes, that means you), make it a point on a regular basis to take some time for yourself to reflect on your relationship. Breathe and focus your energy inward. What is it that you want in a partnership? What makes you feel good about the one you’ve got? What makes you feel not so good? What are your own strengths and weaknesses in love? It doesn’t matter what any self-help book or guru says you should do, expect, want or need. What you’re looking for in this quiet time are the things that feel right to you deep down – the questions you need answered. Think long-term and short-term. And write it all down before you start analyzing. The point is, you’re communing with your higher self, which doesn’t give false answers.
Your higher self is who you are in your gut – barring any insecurities or conditioning ingrained by the outside world. It doesn’t change based on whom you’re with, and it shouldn’t be held down to accommodate what you think someone else wants. It simply is.
Share your discoveries
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to work on getting it, which means being just as honest with your partner as you’ve been with yourself. If this scares you, you’re not alone. However, it’s time to face your fears.
Openness is the basis for intimacy. If someone runs from your desire or willingness to share yourself honestly, then that person is not for you anyway. There is no point in pretending to be someone you’re not in an effort to “keep” another person in your life. Doing that just sells both of you short by ensuring that neither of you will be genuinely happy or fulfilled. So gather your courage, and let your truth emanate. You’ve heard the phrase “be the change you wish to see.” It applies here. Let your truth permeate your actions, as well as your words. But don’t think for one second that you don’t need to show and tell. Not everyone can read actions alone: you have to express your needs verbally if you want them met. But remember, it’s not just what you say that’s important. It’s how you say it.
Turn of phrase
Authenticity does not permit negativity (or allow one partner to dictate the when and where of the discussion). When it comes to expressing yourself in a relationship, you’ll no doubt catch more flies with honey. So leave the vinegar behind. For starters, don’t criticize or complain. Don’t yell, scream, huff, puff or coddle. Don’t put your partner down, place blame on them for your feelings or lace your words with passive aggressive intonation. Be straightforward and open, ask questions to be sure you’re understood, and learn to phrase things from a place of perspective. This way, you can never come off as accusing.
For example, “It makes me feel ___ when you do ___.” “I love it when you ___.” “I really need to feel safe in a relationship, and what that means for me is a partner who does ___.” If you frame things with your goals in mind, specifically that you want to build a happy, healthy and mutually satisfying relationship, there is less for your partner to object to. Especially if you make it clear that you’re asking them to share their thoughts and feelings as well.
On that note, remember that timing is everything. You don’t want to start a hefty conversation after a difficult day or too many glasses of wine – it can make mountains out of molehills. Similarly, you need to have enough time by yourselves to have an open discussion. So, choose your time and place wisely.
Lastly, remember that being your authentic self does not give you license to run rampant, and demand that your desires be met. Rather, it means staying grounded in the moment, taking stock of the situation and being honest about your own shortcomings in an effort to grow together. In a relationship, it also means compromise.
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