Are you what others want or what you want?

Image credits: Steve Halama / Unsplash

I’ve always been a very natural person. I tend to say I’m a What You See Is What You Get person. I’m true to my values and try to be as consistent as possible. I do have my moments, but I rarely stray from my inner self.

I want to think I’m a very adaptive person. I can adjust quickly to many different personalities, and it’s rare for me to not get along with someone. When adapting to others, I try to modulate my personal traits as to not to disrupt too much the other person and make them feel comfortable.

I see way too many people inhibiting part of their core persona just for the benefit of their partner.

But there is a thin line between modulating and inhibiting. When I look around me, I see many people completely shutting down a part of themselves for the benefit of others. That behaviour has always made me scream. It’s such an offense to your inner self; I have a hard time articulating how toxic it is.

This problem is especially common if you look at relationships. I see way too many people inhibiting part of their core persona just for the benefit of their partner. So the question is, are you who you really, truly are? Or are you what others want you to be?

There are certain facets of ourselves that, as I said, we can modulate, change and fine tune, but we can’t just be someone else entirely. That’s not what having a relationship is. Hence there needs to be a certain degree of “matching” if you want the relationship to keep going.

Sometimes though we lose ourselves. Sometimes we want it to work. We struggle.

I’ve always been very keen on that “matching” aspect. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and so I rarely build strong and lasting relationships with people I don’t have an intense match.

Sometimes though we lose ourselves. Sometimes we want it to work. We struggle. We suffer. And despite all the pain, we keep pushing ourselves to make it work.

It’s in that process that we stubbornly try anything and everything to make the relationship work. This includes ignoring our traits, omitting who we are, for the sake of forcing a match.

A friend introduced me recently to the theory of the five languages of love by Gary Chapman. Hadn’t heard of it but I picked on it immediately. While it’s still a theory, there is some evidence for it and with good reason.

In a nutshell, it says that we all speak five emotional love languages that we use to express affection to others. The five language are, words of affection, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. We all speak all five of them, but we’re, in general, stronger in one or two of them.

I realized that I’m strong in physical touch and quality time. When reviewing my past relationships, I found that I have an impending need to see the people I care, to spend time together. Also, being a Spaniard, I’m from a culture were hugs, kisses, and physical touch is part of our culture.

I can temporarily adjust, I can restrain myself and ignore certain things, but not forever.

When dealing with others I’ve understood that I can’t obviate these traits, it’s who I am, I’m a hugger. So being around people that hate being touched is a problem for me. I can temporarily adjust, I can restrain myself and ignore certain things, but not forever.

It’s hard to try and fail, but maybe it’s harder to realize that it will never be.

Smiling, laughing, enjoying a hug or dance in close contact with someone is WHO I am. There is nothing I can do to change that. So while I can try and struggle with someone that doesn’t align with my core, it will eventually fail. We will never be a match.

It’s sad and frustrating that sometimes our heart feels one way, but nature prevents us from following it through. It’s hard to try and fail, but maybe it’s harder to realize that it will never be.

What’s true though is that, despite our best efforts, we should never silence who we are. The moment we silence our inner core, we’re doomed. The soul has this nasty habit of wriggling its ugly head at critical moments and remind us that that’s not who we are.

Don’t live the life of others, live your life and embrace those that can and will connect with you freely.

Disassociating our core from our daily life will only bring suffering, pain and endless bouts of frustration. As I wrote before, be honest with yourself, even if it’s painful, and accept the truth of who you are. Don’t live the life of others, live your life and embrace those that can and will connect with you freely.


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