Why Being Yourself Won't Actually Make A Relationship Work, According To Science

by Candice Jalili

I'm one of those annoying people who genuinely believes that "just being yourself" really IS enough.

Throughout my lifetime, I have probably given "be yourself, everyone else is taken" as a piece of advice over a billion times.

And, yes, I'm half doing it to be cliché and annoying, but the other half of me is doing it because I genuinely think it's the best advice in the world!

Especially when it comes to relationships. I mean, if you can't truly be yourself around your partner, what's the point?

Well, much to my disappointment, a new study has decided to completely shatter everything I believe in and hold dear to my heart.

Apparently, when it comes to relationships, just being yourself really isn't enough.

Rather than finding a relationship that allows you to just be yourself, the new study (published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin) urges you to find a relationship that inspires you to be the best version of yourself.

As part of their study, the researchers asked participants to take a series of surveys in which they were asked to describe three things: their "true selves," their "ideal selves,"  and their relationships.

Some participants were then asked if they acted more like their ideal or their true selves around their partners.

Now, here's where things get interesting and also where I realized everything I believed to be true was, in fact, a big, fat, giant LIE.

Researchers found that participants who said they acted like their "ideal selves" around their partners also reported their relationships were more "authentic" than those who said they were in relationships where they either "couldn't be their ideal selves" or "were pushed to be their true selves."

In his description of the study for BPS Research Digest, Christian Jarrett compared the study's findings to something called the "Michelangelo Concept."

He says,

This is the finding that we tend to make more progress towards our ideal selves when our partner has the same traits that we aspire to have ourselves, through encouragement or acting by example. The name of the concept invokes the idea of our partners helping to reveal our ideal selves, like a sculptor gradually reveals the form of a statue. These new findings suggest that if you have a partner like this, not only will you make more progress toward the kind of person you'd like to be, but that you'll also have stronger feelings of authenticity in that relationship.

As much as I HATE to admit it, I get it.

It's not enough to be with someone who just allows you to be yourself when you could be with someone who pushes you to be your best self.

Citations: Being Your True Self in a Relationship Is Less Important Than Being Your Best Self (New York Magazine: The Science of Us), Feeling authentic in a relationship comes from being able to be your best self, not your actual self (BPS Research Digest), Being Your Actual or Ideal Self? What It Means to Feel Authentic in a Relationship (SAGE Journals)