One of the biggest challenges when you’re first dating someone is to make sure you don’t reinvent yourself in the process. Sure, it’s a good chance to change things you don’t like about yourself, to be more considerate, more polite, more thoughtful, but you can overdo it. Here are six ways to make sure that “you” stays you.
Don’t bury yourself in the new relationship. Take time to hang out with your friends or do activities that don’t involve your romance. Read a book, work on a hobby, and give yourself time apart to go back to your natural self, when no one else is watching (and when you aren’t at work).
Look for ways to remember who you are. Make a list of your favorite things, watch a movie you love, or make your next date a stop to your favorite park, museum, zoo, or restaurant. While dating can be a great time to try new things, revisiting the old can help make sure you’re not overhauling your personality in the process.
Don’t try to reinvent yourself for the sake of the relationship. You shouldn’t have to become an amazing cook, an outdoor fanatic, or anything else that isn’t you just to keep the relationship going. Sure, it might make you seem like a better fit for someone, but ultimately your romantic partner needs to get to know the real you, not some fabrication that looks good on paper.
Share your passions. It may be scary to let someone know how much you love playing video games, drawing cartoons, or writing fan-fiction, especially if other people see such things as a waste of time, but if your new relationship is going to truly work out, your romantic partner is going to have to accept and support you in everything you love. I’m not saying you should dump everything on them all at once, but you need to work in opportunities of showing the real you so you don’t end up closeting your heart away.
Don’t be threatened by differences. Not all romances have to be based on shared interests. It might be nice if you both love old movies or swing dancing, but who knows? The person you’re dating might welcome a change. Chances are, they have friends who already share their hobbies and interests, but they’re really looking for someone who can share their heart…and that could still be you, even if you don’t like everything they do.
Try to foster an integration of your new relationship with old ones. If you and your romantic partner can interact with your old friends, your family, and others who know you, as you really are, it’ll help avoid the creation of any masks. After all, when you’re surrounded by people you know, you’re most likely to be yourself.
One last thing to keep in mind: don’t completely panic if you find yourself changing. Sometimes, who we thought we were grows and expands, and it can be a good thing. Your new romance might bring out facets of you you didn’t know you had, helping you discover new talents, hobbies, and interests, and you shouldn’t squash those just because they’re new, just as you shouldn’t throw away parts of you just because you’ve always been a certain way.
Ultimately, who you choose to be is a decision you have to make, and while your romantic partner can help, the final decision should be yours.