When you go on dates or are in a relationship, who shows up? Is it you, the whole you and nothing but the you? Or is it your representative, the persona you send out that’s a glossier or more watered-down version of you that you think does the best job of selling you as future partner or spouse material? In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I delve into the subject of dating and relationship selves and why there can’t be too great a difference between these and our authentic selves.

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Some nuggets from the episode:

  • Your dating and relationship self is a persona. It’s based on various dating, sexual and emotional experiences that shape your perception and attitude towards love, relationships and yourself.
  • How we behave romantically isn’t just based on our experiences, though. Friends and family’s experiences influence us as well. We even file away stories we’ve heard from random people as well as what we read in the media. Keep in mind, also, that we’re biased towards information that validates our existing beliefs. If we really want a relationship but are also telling ourselves that there are no decent people left to date, we’ll notice anything in the media or in the experiences of family and friends, to validate this.
  • Most of us would scoff at the idea of behaving like the wife-to-be in Coming To America who barks like a dog when asked because “I like what you like”. In reality, though, we’ve all engaged in our versions of this in our attempts to find love. If we consider all the things we’ve said and done in order, for example, to secure a second date, to get laid, to avoid being dumped/alone, to be seen as better than an ex/competitor, or to look sexy or like ‘marriage material’, her actions don’t seem so absurd after all.

”When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.” – Chris Rock

  • An example of where we might let our dating and relationship self take over is where we feel that we’ve been penalised in the past for coming across as “too ambitious”. We might then determine that in order for us to be successful at relationships that we need to play down our accomplishments and achievements.

Some of us really don’t know, like and trust ourselves and rely on dating and relationship selves because we don’t feel good enough. 

  • Because our dating and relationship self comprises all of the things that we think that we need to be, do and have to ‘get’ love and secure a relationship, we get angry with partners or with ourselves when things don’t work out. We feel as if we’re playing by society’s rules and still getting shortchanged and knocked out of the running.
  • The bigger the gap between your dating and relationship self and the real you, the bigger the problems. You can only be in low-intimacy relationships when you’re too afraid to let the real you out.
  • Have you become less of who you really are? Do you do things while dating or in a relationship with the specific intention of trying to come across in a certain way? Do you try to be whatever you think your partner likes and wants? Do you feel lost when a relationship ends no matter how short? Yep, these are all signs that the real you takes a back seat when you experience romantic interest.

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