If you’re in a relationship, think back to the first few months together.
And if you’re dating, think about what you were like the last time you were getting to know someone (maybe that’s happening right now.)
Were you completely honest with your partner?
More specifically, were you upfront about issues from your past… or did you downplay them (or “forget” to mention them)? I’m talking here about anything from financial trouble to children from previous relationships.
Did you speak up when you weren’t in agreement with your partner, or did you just go along with certain things? Maybe your partner wanted to see an action film, and you really can’t stand shoot-em up movies. But you enthusiastically said yes.
When your partner said or did something you didn’t like, did you speak up about how uncomfortable you felt? For instance, suppose they were impolite to a server during dinner, or they pushed for physical intimacy too soon.
If you sheepishly had to admit you haven’t been completely honest all of the time, you’re not alone.
People hide and ignore all kinds of things in the early stages of romance to be more attractive and easygoing to their prospective partners.
I’ve had couples in therapy – some who have been together for years – ripped apart by confessions. People can drop all sorts of bombs after a relationship has been established – everything from jail time to sexually-transmitted diseases to food preferences.
It all comes down to fear. When things are going well and we really like someone, we’re afraid of “rocking the boat” or coming across as high maintenance.
Perhaps we’ve been burned in a previous relationship by a partner who reacted negatively to our honesty and trust. Or maybe we think this little thing just won’t matter.
But not being authentic is just a ticking time bomb.
When you aren’t straightforward – whether it’s covering up something from your past, hiding your true feelings, or downplaying your preferences – you put yourself at a tremendous disadvantage.
By hiding your truth, you prevent the other person from getting to know the real you – thus you end up spending time with the wrong partners, and you create more problems down the line when the truth does come out.
When couples aren’t authentic with each other, they find that they can only play that game for so long.
Sooner or later, they’re no longer able to cover up what they’re really feeling, and when the truth emerges they are poorly equipped to cope with it.
The early phase of a relationship is the best time to be completely authentic with your partner.
When a couple is first getting to know each other, there is an abundance of positive feelings, and forgiveness is given generously. There is a high degree of resilience, and it’s easier than ever to bounce back from any setbacks.
You might feel that if you’re honest, the other person won’t like you, but the reality is that the fastest way to find out if the two of you are a good fit is to be exactly who you are.
And the more you disclose about yourself, the more your partner feels safe to do the same. This is how true intimacy is born.
Not only will being authentic ensure that you’re each being completely yourselves, but you’ll develop those critical conflict-resolution skills you’ll need later on.
Yet it’s never too late to practice authenticity with your partner. Make a commitment starting now to be completely transparent about what you’re feeling and what you need from each other.
I’ve witnessed dramatic transformations in couples when they practice “speaking from their truth.”
Of course, sensitive areas such as something traumatic that happened to you as a child needs not be revealed on a first date – these should be shared once you are comfortable with the person and feel that he will respond with support and care.
Not being completely honest about who you are and what you need is a habit, and it’s one that can be broken.
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