New love is a very exciting thing. Here's this beautiful stranger who wants to know all about you, and you want to know all about them. You quickly become inseparable, and it's just so darn cute. But the process can also be kind of stressful, especially if you have a problem fully relaxing and being yourself in a new relationship.
When that's the case, it's totally normal to keep your guard up around new people, especially if you're coming out of a previously not-so-great relationship. After all, old habits die hard, and you don't really know how this new person will react to your, um, eccentricities.
So you may find yourself toting along all sorts of baggage and actively hiding parts of yourself based on ideas you have lodged in your head from past partners. But even if you don't have baggage, or you're in your very first relationship, it can still be tempting to hide your true self. Perhaps this new person seems too good to be true, and so you're trying hard to come off as "cooler" or more "together" than you really are.
Don't do this to yourself. Not only for your personal sanity, but also out of respect for the person you love. They deserve to know you in your truest form. No white lies, no cover ups, no guilt — just you and all your weird hobbies, odd food pairings, and bizarre taste in movies.
If this sounds all too familiar, then here are some tips for being yourself in a new relationship.
1. Be Honest About What You Like
We've all done it — pretend to like a band we've never heard of, or love a food we secretly despise, all in the name of impressing our new love interest. But leading yourself down a gnarly road of fibs and lies can leave you feeling like a big imposter. Not to mention, it creates all sorts of problems for the future.
As Jessica Padykula noted on SheKnows.com, "This can lead to fights further down the road ... Having things in common is great, but having your own opinions is perfectly natural." So if you hate romantic comedies or you're allergic to spicy food, just be straight up about it. And then don't worry about the consequences — the right person won't cross you off their list for something so trivial.
2. Don't Hide Your Weirdness
You attracted your SO with all those charming attributes that make you unique. But we all have quirks that aren't so cute, too. You know, the kind you only discover after spending a lot of time together. It can be tempting to hide these weird eccentricities, hobbies, and habits, especially if you've been ridiculed for them in the past (perhaps by a mean ex-partner). But that doesn't mean you should feel ashamed, or act like you are little Ms./Mr. Perfect, especially now that you're in a new relationship.
According to Padykula, "Your quirks make you interesting, so don't hide them just because you think it will put a guy off or make him think you're weird. Weird is good, and having unique hobbies just makes you a more interesting, well-rounded person." So let your quirks fly, and allow your SO to love you for you.
3. Maintain Your Other Relationships
When you're in the throws of a new relationship, no one will be surprised if you shack up for weeks on end. But eventually, you have to peek back out at the blinding light of the real world, and start being your own person again. And this means seeing your friends, visiting your family, and doing things separate from your SO.
As Sahaj Kohli noted on HuffingtonPost.com, "If you have plans with family or your best friends, don't flake last minute to stay in with your significant other. A good relationship will definitely withstand you taking the time to honor commitments to people outside it." And you'll be happier when the relationship is just as much about your needs, as it is about your partner's.
4. Keep Up With Your Own Hobbies
One fun thing about being in a relationship is sharing hobbies and introducing each other to new things. However, this sometimes gets out of hand and one person ends up adopting the other person's hobbies in favor of their own. When that happens, suddenly you're all about knitting, even though crafty things put you right to sleep. Or you find yourself "obsessed" with dendrochronology, even though you aren't quite sure what it is. My point is, have fun learning new hobbies and trying new activities. Just don't let your own interests fall by the way side.
5. Learn How To Say No
Everyone should want to make their partner happy, and sometimes that means saying yes to things you don't want to do. But you've got a problem if you're saying yes out of fear of disappointing them, or because it feels like your opinion doesn't matter. When that's the case, it's important to stand up for yourself and learn how to say no.
According to Margarita Tartakovsy, M.S., on PsychCentral.com, "By saying no, you’re creating a boundary. And boundaries are essential for any healthy relationship. Unfortunately, boundaries tend to get a bad rap ... because they’re viewed as keeping partners away from each other. But it’s just the opposite. Boundaries help you better understand your partner, know their needs and respond to them — thereby bringing you that much closer." So the sooner you can start saying no — especially to things you truly don't believe in or want to do — the sooner you guys can move on to a nice, healthy relationship.
6. Don't Rely On Them For Everything
Before you got into a relationship, you were probably a totally self-sufficient person strutting off and fixing cars, grocery shopping, and making decisions all on your own. Then that partner of yours came along, and laziness set in. When you start to turn to your partner to do everything — from cooking, to making decisions, to handling money — you lose yourself in the process.
According to Sara Eckel on Women's Health, "Once you're in a twosome, it's tempting to kick back and let your [partner] take the lead on certain tasks... But over time, leaning on [them] for everything can undermine your confidence..." To prevent this from happening, make sure you don't get too comfy with someone else doing everything for you. Remember to always be your own person, and make your own decisions.
7. Try To Let Go Of Your Insecurities
We all have a ton of baggage, whether it be due to poor body image, low self-esteem, bad past relationships, or family issues. And getting rid of these is of course way easier said than done. But any time you're acting weird in a new relationship, it can pretty much always be traced back to these insecurities, and it can start to affect how you act.
But if you want a new relationship to work, and you want to feel like yourself, then you need to silence those negative voices in your head, suggested Padykula. So be honest about your insecurities, let your SO know the struggle, and then do your best to leave it all in the past.
If you're in a new relationship, then by all means, become an inseparable twosome. But don't do it at the expense of your own thoughts, opinions, hobbies, and friends. You'll have a much happier and healthier relationship if you stick up for what you believe in.
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