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Is your love the ‘real deal’?

Every month, Sarah Abell invites you to try a 30-day experiment to improve your love life

by Psychologies

can you be yourself in a relationship

The project

Are you able to be 100 per cent yourself in your relationship or do you find that you hide, adapt or exaggerate who you are in order to be loved?

Researchers have discovered that you are more likely to have greater trust, satisfaction and commitment in a relationship if you and your partner are able to be authentic with one another.*

The aim

If you want to have a great relationship and be loved for who you are, then the best thing that you can do is ‘be yourself’ and allow your partner to do the same.

The theory

What does it mean to be authentic in a relationship? Recently, researchers have focused on two areas (Lopez & Rice, 2006):

  1. Unacceptability of Deception – is it ok to hide bits of your true self from your partner or is it important that they know and see the ‘real you’?
  2. Intimate Risk Taking – are you able to be vulnerable with each other? Can you both be 100 per cent yourself?

In their research, Wickham et al. discovered that being yourself and believing that your partner is also being authentic are important factors in a healthy romantic relationship.

It can be tempting to cover up your bad bits or adapt yourself to please your partner but if you want to be truly loved you need to relate authentically and value connection over protection.

Try It Out

• Reflect. Spend five minutes writing down some honest reflections on who you are. Use the third person – i.e. Sarah is x – and don’t hold anything back. Don’t just include things you do or roles you have – try to describe who you are and be sure to mention the negative as well as the positive. Then do the same for your partner. Who do you think they really are?

• Compare. Why not ask your partner to do the same, then compare results. How accurately do you both think you described yourself and each other? What similarities or differences do you notice in how you see yourselves?

• Reveal. If there were any surprises in your descriptions – talk them through with each other. You might also want to try completing the following statements with each other:

  1. My greatest fear is…
  2. The one thing I don’t want you to know about me is…
  3. If I could change one thing about myself it would be…
  4. My greatest dream is…
  5. The thing I love most about you is…               

Sarah Abell is an author, speaker and relationships coach. Find out how authentic you really are with her free test at www.nakedhedgehogs.com. Find out more at nakedhedgehogs.com. To buy her LifeLabs Practical Wisdom online course How to Save Your Relationship, please click here. You can try a free 3-day taster trial first too.

* Robert E. Wickham et al., ‘Establishing the psychometric properties of the Self and Perceived-partner Authenticity in Relationships Scale-Short Form’ (Elsevier 2015).

Photograph: iStock

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