There's almost nothing better than the feeling of dating someone who makes you feel truly understood, loved, and accepted. Before that can happen, though, you have to learn
how to be authentic in your relationship in the first place — because only by witnessing you truly be yourself (in both good and bad scenarios) can your partner come to really know and love you, quirks and all.
"[Authenticity is] about being open, vulnerable, honest and fully present first with yourself first, and then with your partner,"
Phillia Kim Downs, a shaman, reiki healer, and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "When the barriers come down, yes, the truth hurts sometimes and it's hard to speak and hear. But by creating a safe, sacred space to communicate each other's needs, wants, desires, emotions, feelings and thoughts, it can build trust, confidence, intimacy, [and] compassion, and have it payoff in a big way in relationships. It's about experiencing [a] deeper connection between two people."
Simply put, couples who can genuinely be themselves will be better able to fully understand and connect with each other, and if you feel like you can't always
be yourself around your partner, you can't build a truly . The good news? With a authentic relationship willingness to be vulnerable and a little extra communication, you and your partner can work together to build a deep, authentic, long-lasting connection. If you're ready to get down to the nitty gritty with your partner, here are 11 questions you can ask each other to add more authenticity into your relationship.
"What Are Three Things You Love About Me, And One Thing I Can Improve On?"
Part of being human means accepting that no one is perfect — but still striving to improve yourself anyway. Your partner is someone who you should trust to be honest with you, both about the things they love about you as well as about what things you might be able to improve on.
"We ask this question because first, it gives the other person affirmation that they are valuable and loved to the other person with their unique qualities and character,"
Andi LaBrune, Relationship Expert and Mentor, tells Bustle. "Second, it also says that the person cares enough about them to want to keep improving and is offering to be open to feedback on how they can do that."
"What Do You Find It Difficult To Open Up To Me About?"
Even in a relationship filled with love and trust, it's not always easy to open up about things that are difficult or painful. You shouldn't press your partner to spill their darkest secrets if they don't feel comfortable, but asking what they find it difficult to open up about can start the conversation and hopefully make them feel more secure discussing those things in the future.
"This question opens up communication and connectedness by allowing the other person the opportunity to share something difficult and to share it in a space that is deemed safe for them to do so," LaBrune says.
"What Can I Do To Help Deepen Your Trust In Me?"
If you want your relationship to be deep, authentic, and long-lasting, it's so crucial to
establish healthy trust with your partner — particularly if one or both of you has trust issues that have carried over from past relationships.
"This allows an opportunity to break habits of ‘holding back’ due to past hurts," LaBrune says. "It also conveys that the person asking wants to heal with them together, they aren’t alone."
"What Kind Of Person Do You Want To Become, And How Can I Help?"
We all grow and change throughout life, and part of being in a long-term relationship is learning to grow and change
with your partner, and helping each other become the best versions of yourselves — whatever it is that you both want to become.
"By understanding this [about your partner], you can better learn how to support each other in the quest to evolve and grow into the best versions of yourselves," mental health counselor
Pashmina Rashad, M.S., tells Bustle. "If each partner can feel not only accepted, but truly supported in their own growth, the relationship gains a deeper level of authenticity because it is one that is strong enough and flexible enough to evolve with both partners; it rises to meet the needs of each partner, making it a fuller expression of them as a couple."
"What Are You Grateful For?"
It might sound cheesy, but being able to express gratitude in a relationship — both for each other and things outside the relationship — is so important in having an authentic connection with your partner.
"Don't just ask this once,"
Lexi Soulios, a holistic therapist who specializes in helping women release unhealthy patterns from the past, tells Bustle. "The point is to move... into a full-on vibe of gratitude together... [You] learn so much about each other this way — and gain beautiful insight into what's truly in [y]our partner's heart."
"What Were Three Highlights Of Your Day?"
Instead of asking the generic "how was your day?" and getting nothing more than a shrug or "fine" in response, asking this slightly more specific question can really help you and your partner get in the habit of having a more personal, authentic conversation whenever you need to catch up.
"After a day apart at work, this question really helps us tune into our own joy from what happened during the day, as well as have a chance to celebrate what made our partner happy," Soulios says.
"Are There Any Parts Of You That You Feel Get Left Out Of Our Relationship?"
True authenticity in a relationship means feeling like you and your partner know each other inside and out... but that's not necessarily something that happens overnight. By asking your partner if there are any parts of themselves they feel are "left out" of the relationship, you can open the door for them to be 100 percent themselves going forward.
"This question invites your partner to express parts of themselves that they may have been shy or nervous to show in the relationship,"
Louise Head, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and Sexpert, tells Bustle.
"What Do You Value Most About Our Relationship, And Why?"
Even if you and your partner are on the same page in your relationship, that doesn't necessarily mean you view your relationship in exactly the same way — and asking your partner what they value most about your relationship can provide a lot of insight.
"This gives you and your partner the chance to discover what you value or appreciate most about the relationship," Head says. "Your values should be seen as a kind of foundation that secures you to each other or as a compass that directs you both back to each other when you begin to feel disconnected."
"What Is Your Most Cherished Memory?"
Unless you've somehow been glued to your partner's side since your diaper days, there's a good chance that they'll have memories they cherish that you weren't around to witness — and prompting them to share those with you can help you build a deeper connection.
"Sharing the good times of our experiences through recalling special memories can be like your partner being there reliving it with you, and understanding deeper your partner on what made that experience so special," Downs says.
"What Is Your Worst Memory?"
On the flip side, your partner probably also has *bad* memories that they haven't shared with you, either. Although it might not sound fun, asking your partner to recount their worst memories can bring the two of you closer, and give you an opportunity to support and nurture them.
"You can be supportive to your partner and understanding where their trauma and pain may still lie, and learn how to hold space for your partner when they are sharing something vulnerable that really affected them, most likely still into this life," Downs says.
"Can You Tell Me About A Time When You Felt Like I Really Saw You For Who You Are?"
In every healthy long-term relationship, there will be moments of deep connection, where you feel like you really understand your partner or vice versa; talking about those times can be a reminder of what authenticity looks like.
"This gives partners a chance to share a time in which they experienced true authenticity with each other which can give you clues on how to recreate those moments again and again in your relationship," Head says.
Ultimately, the way to achieve true authenticity in your relationship is to first
be authentic — with yourself and your partner — and then be receptive as your partner opens up and shares their true self with you. Of course, it will take time, but if you're truly in a happy, healthy, loving partnership, you and your partner will be able to build a strong, authentic connection.