Being yourself vs being in a relationship

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    It feels right now like I have to make a choice. I don’t think who I am is someone anyone I like would want to be with. There’s a ton of advice out there about how to date, the right way to act, what you’re doing wrong, why you’re alone. Some of it makes sense, some of it is bunk, but I try to take in what feels right and leave the rest alone, only sometimes I can’t do that. Sometimes I’m gonna do the wrong thing. I’m gonna know (intellectually) it’s the wrong thing, according to various experts, and I’m going to do it anyway, because it’s just what I would do. I feel like I am insane when this happens. Like when I know I shouldn’t call this person after just a week, or I know I shouldn’t overstay my welcome, even when they gave me permission, because that’s not “how it’s done.” Even if it’s just what I would do.

    So I’m trying to face up to the fact that it’s unlikely anyone will want me the way I am. I know people who have depression or ADHD can have meaningful relationships, but I have a lot working against me and it’s hard not to be pessimistic. Especially when, when I get excited about someone, I feel like I have to watch my step, or I’ll lose my opportunity. Like relationships are a board game I can win with the right strategy. And I hate that. I HATE it. My last relationship sent me into a severe long-term depression, blunted my emotions and my perception of reality, made me TERRIFIED of appearing clingy, even though I have no recollection of ever feeling like I NEEDED that person. Now I feel like I have all these facts flying around me head and I can’t hear the voice telling me how I should really be, and that’s the voice I should be paying attention to. Even if it makes people not be interested in me. Even if that makes me want to curl up into a ball and die. (I should also say that that is just an expression and I’m no longer borderline suicidal. I will sometimes briefly entertain the thought, usually only if I’ve been triggered, but a suicide hotline saved my life once, and each time I think “well, screw THIS,” I think about that person who went through the trouble of telling me that I matter, that they didn’t want me to die, and that however I was feeling, it was valid.)

    I read a blog post where it was just a long list of things that the author felt were unattractive aspects of herself, but aspects of herself nonetheless and reading it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. In that spirit, here are a few things about me that are just me, that I feel like I have to hide or alter, but can’t change, have been trying to change, or just plain don’t want to change:

    1. I can be easily overwhelmed by negative feelings, to the point of delusion.
    2. I am a pretty dirty person, I generally don’t see messes and leave my dirty clothes everywhere.
    3. I will hang out in bed all day, even if I don’t want to.
    4. I overreact to things that turn out to be not a big deal. And when I say overreact, I mean being almost certain that my life is ruined.
    5. I’m pretty childish, in good and bad ways. I can be self-pitying, I like to roll down hills, I say mean things without realizing it, I like to climb trees.
    6. I cry a LOT and I like to cry. I like to be sad sometimes, because it’s better than feeling nothing at all and sometimes I forget that.
    7. I get wounded VERY quickly. I project fantasies onto people and events and have to fight my ego constantly to remind myself that what I’m imagining is not real.
    8. My work ethic sucks (when I don’t like the work.)
    9. I compare myself to people all the time and get too focused on how I look to others.
    10. Even with lots of friends, I am lonely.
    11. I believe in things I can’t prove, but that have helped me enormously in my life. I don’t ever talk about it because I’m afraid of being mocked.
    12. I pull away from people who show a real interest in me because I’m actually afraid of intimacy (or I’m not attracted to them, but don’t want to admit it because I think it makes me shallow.)

    That’s just a few. If I had time, I would make a huge list like the one I read. I hope this makes someone feel better about their flaws, or at least better about themselves.


    Hey there,

    I used to be like you, reading up on dating advice from so called gurus, watching how I behave, what I say and doing everything in my power to get someone to like me. The thing is, even when I managed to manipulate someone into liking me, it never lasts. Even while it did it wasn’t that great because I can’t be open with that person and there is always that fear that if I did the wrong thing, the whole relationship will collapse. So what I am trying to say is that going into a relationship pretending to be someone else is a fool’s game.

    Have you ever wondered what is the purpose of our emotions? We get angry when we are confronted, scared when we do something risky and sad when we lost something we love. From a biological and evolutionary perspective, our emotions exist to get us to take action. So if you are depressed and cry often, perhaps your body is telling you to do something that will change your circumstances? If you are unwilling to take the steps to address these issues yourself, a relationship will only complicate matters. Most people get sick of being the saviour fairly quickly.

    My suggestion is to look at the list you put together and commit to one change you can make today. Just one and when you have mastered it, try another. The most important thing is to do something, otherwise you will end up bring your own jailer.


    Hi Kyniska,

    Oh my goodness, I see myself in half your list!! (and then there’s more on my own!! LOL)

    Here’s the thing. With people “like us”, assuming we are indeed “A Mess”, we can’t really hide certain aspects of ourselves. Like, a dumb person can’t fake being smart and an out of shape person can’t fake being a Navy Seal. We are also energetic beings, so people will pick up on our energy anyway.

    What we can do is to seek refuge in politeness and a low level of formality. Basically, make the other person feel comfortable, when in doubt say nothing at all, say thank you, make small talk. People will still sense that there is a youthful aspect about us (what we might label immaturity). If they’re OK with that, the relationship/friendship will progress naturally. But we will have done what we are supposed to or can, without resorting to that icky quasi-manipulative social hacking behavior.

    If someone doesn’t like me for ME, what’s the point, you know?

    In the meantime, we can get out of bed, wash the dishes and do the laundry! πŸ˜‰



    Rock Banana

    It’s easy to think this is mutually exclusive, but it isn’t. What about being yourself whether in a relationship or not?

    Inherent, INHERENT to your idea that there’s no point dating because you would have to pretend to be somebody else, otherwise they wouldn’t like you, is the belief that they need to like you.

    All of your efforts are currently being funneled into avoiding rejection.

    I recommend working on this and coming to realize that it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of you – nothing they think of you changes who you are, or has anything to do with who you are for that matter. That you don’t need them to like you. That you don’t need them in order for you to be happy. That you can live without them, but you desire being with them. But if they don’t love you / respect you then that’s OK too.

    As for your list – those are a list of stories you’re telling yourself about who you are. the stories aren’t who you actually are. I admire and appreciate your radical honesty here (especially your self honesty). Remember – the list isn’t who you are. The list is some stuff you’ve noticed you’ve been telling yourself stories about.

    Forget about “can’t change”. Hasn’t changed yet is very different to won’t ever change.

    I strongly recommend seeking a life coach, therapist or counselor to go through this stuff with you.

    Here’s to your wellbeing.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 10 months ago by Rock Banana.

    Thanks everyone for you help. I have been seeking counseling, it’s hard for me to find someone I feel comfortable with, but I’m going to keep trying.

    Rock Banana, you advice was very enlightening and much appreciated. Thank you.


    Wow, reading this I felt like you were describing me in so much of that.

    The vast majority of the thoughts you’ve had about yourself are thoughts I have had about myself. A lot of those things I never addressed on anything more than a superficial level until my last relationship ended this past October and then I really began an honest self analysis. I posted about it on here at the time and I immersed myself with all the positive things I could do – all the the things I thought I should be doing to help myself to a better place – but when I began seeing a counselor (at the suggestion of one of my professors) I really started to see how much I had been putting things aside or rationalizing behaviors that had been steadily dragging me down. In the sessions I would make comments about myself or put myself down unwittingly and he would stop me and I wouldn’t even realize what I had just said until he had me think about it. Most of the things on your list would be on my list as well. I’m an obsessive worrier, I think I’m much more of a kid than I should be at this age, and I constantly worry about what people think of me. I have always been self-deprecating and I have always gravitated towards seeing the things about myself I don’t like instead of what I do like but the thought “I don’t think who I am is someone anyone I like would want to be with” is spot on as a thought I’ve had more than a few times in these past five months. It almost made me laugh reading your description of treating relationships as board games, I can remember doing this and ultimately being exhausted by it, it’s such a waste of energy trying to hit all these right steps instead of just being comfortable with someone and confident in your true self being good enough. It really sucks having this nagging in the back of your mind when you meet someone you like that you aren’t good enough for this person unless you hide all of your flaws. One of the biggest root causes of frustration for me – that even now still bothers me as much as I hate to admit it – is what my ex and her family think of me. I know I shouldn’t care, she’s no longer in my life and we live over 2 hours away from each other so it’s not like we will run into each other, but it irks me to no end to think they would think of me in a negative way or not approve of me for just being myself (I am more of an introvert she and her family are much more extroverts). I really aspire to be the type of person who can say they don’t care what anyone else thinks about them and mean it to their core.

    Anyway, I hope that finding a counselor works for you – I try to make it a habit not to give direct advice because everyone responds to things differently but to instead offer what is/has worked for me. Mindfulness mediation has helped greatly with keeping me in the moment and not obsessing over things I can’t help. I’ve always been incredibly strict about paying bills and CC payments on time and now having to put myself into debt while going back to school has been a nightmare for me but meditation has really helped me to put the worry aside – if only for 10 minutes – I can escape that fear. I also changed my diet to a focus on much more nutritionally rich foods which ended up raising my overall base mood. Along with this I started a fitness and weightlifting routine fit around my classes. I know these are pretty common suggestions and it feels cliche to be suggesting something you’ve probably been told a hundred times but for me they’ve sort of begun to benefit one another and unintended benefits of one have been increasing the effectiveness of another.

    Best of luck to you

    Bronte C

    Hi πŸ™‚

    You are not alone with these thoughts as you can clearly see by the responses. We all have our “lists”. Might I suggest making a list of all the things you LIKE about yourself. That list might be longer than you think.

    And, yes, you are correct. Some people will not like you, just as YOU will not like everyone you meet. But there are people you would love today with THEIR lists just as there are many people that would love you with YOURS. We are all on a journey. Trust that acceptance of yourself and your current struggles will draw other people to you that will do the same. You are beautiful and you matter just as you are. Don’t give up!

    Also, engaging in some type of physical activity is a very effective way to build positive emotions. You might try reading “The Body Keeps The Score”.

    Wishing you Happiness!


    Thanks for the help, Matthew. Except for the counselor, I’ve done or am doing most of the stuff you suggested: Mindfulness, exercise, and diet, which is like the non-medication bipolar treatment trifecta. I still appreciate hearing it, because it makes me feel better, like I am taking care of myself as well as I am able.

    I know what you mean about bothered about your ex’s opinion. Towards the end of my relationship, I did a lot of things I was ashamed of and I couldn’t bear the thought of that being my ex’s last memory of me when we broke up. I still can’t articulate why I didn’t want him to have a negative opinion of me, but I can’t articulate why I don’t want my mom or my friends to think badly of me either. That’s just how it is. It got to the point where I would have anxiety attacks (sometimes full-blown panic attacks) if I thought I was going to see him. I avoided him for over a year (he doesn’t live near me, but his close friends are my close friends), I was so terrified of how he was going to look at me. Even now, things have improved greatly, but it still gets on my nerves.

    Best of luck to you too. Your reply made me feel less alone in this, often times I get down on myself for not “having it all figured out” yet. Not just dating, but living in general. I forget how common these experiences can be.


    Thanks, Bronte! Made me smile this morning.

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