When someone catches your eye, you might try to get their attention by playing up your physical attributes or turning on the charm. A coy glance. A hand through your hair. An enticing smile. If they respond with interest, you may reveal more of your true self with some honest “get-to-know-you” conversations. Or you may feel that you should focus on looking good, trying to lure and ensnare this new love interest. But which is the best approach – being honest and open, or working to reel in your catch?
There is something to be said for the initial excitement of a new relationship and wanting to look and be your best. But being sneaky and generating a false sense of excitement and intrigue around who you are creates a shaky foundation. You may feel great about “landing a good catch,” but then what? Continue pretending to be someone you are not? Instead, you might want to be genuinely yourself from the beginning.
There are many reasons for being the “real” you:
Being yourself feels good. You can get a bump in positive feelings about yourself simply by focusing on what makes you you. That’s because thinking about this connects you with your authentic self. Also, acting in a way that’s consistent with your inner sense of yourself is even more validating. Game-playing, on the other hand, can reinforce a sense that you are not good enough.
Being yourself opens the possibility of being loved. When you share your genuine self with someone else and they respond with interest and attraction, it can be intoxicating! As your relationship deepens, you will feel loved for the “real” you, not some image you have been projecting.
Being yourself includes protecting you. When you are honest with yourself as you get to know someone, you will be aware of the vulnerability that comes with your deepening relationship. Pay attention to that feeling. Go slowly in opening yourself up, sharing a little at a time. See how your date responds. Consider what you are learning about them. Sharing your inner self is always a risk, but moving forward cautiously will allow you to protect yourself from hurt while also building a closer relationship.
Being yourself includes respecting your own needs. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to please someone you are attracted to. However, it is equally important to consider whether the person you are dating really has enough of the qualities that you want in a partner. So spend some time exploring what will really fulfill you in a long-term relationship.
Sharing the inner you can feel scary, especially if you have established a pattern of putting on what you think is your “best face.” But when you are truly genuine in a relationship – not just playing the role of what you think someone wants – you open the door to establishing a deep, lasting connection.