Your best self vs your real self

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They say marriage is a lifetime of getting used to someone. Without a doubt, any long term relationship is a rollercoaster. You get the good, the bad, the ugly. Sometimes you can get all of that in the space of an hour!

You’ve probably noticed your slightly (or very!) different, depending on who your with. Some people are quiet and industrious at work, but put them in a grandstand at the football and they are boisterous and uncouth! Some people are relaxed everywhere, except behind the wheel of a car. You probably have variations on who you are, depending on the context of the situation.

Another way of looking at this is do you give your partner what’s right, or what’s left. For example, do you find yourself planning your life on how you can invest in your partner, or, do you find yourself giving them the scraps of your energy after everyone else has had a piece of you?

There’s an interesting dynamic though, in marriage. It’s the dynamic, or tension between being your real self, and being your best self. It’s the tension between doing what’s real to you, and doing what’s best for your relationship. It’s an interesting, and difficult tension.

It’s the tension that you get after you and your partner have had really huge weeks, and you want to sit quietly and they want to talk through the week. Do you be your true self, or your best self for your partner?

It’s the tension in silly things – leaving the toilet seat up because you don’t care what way it goes, and putting it down because your partner likes it down and you want to be your best for them.

It’s the tension between just wanting to go to sleep, because that’s what you want, or choosing to open up physically to your partner because you want to give your best to your partner.

It’s the tension between listening enough to hear the key points, or giving your whole attention to your partner.

I think this tension manifests itself in many things.

So what is the answer? I used the picture above because I’ve met some people who seem to think that love is a licence for bad behavior. They seem to use the ‘if you can’t love me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best’ mentality to really just be selfish. Inversely, I’ve met other people who do literally everything they can to support their partner. It might be in the way they put their life on hold to support their partners career, or family, a project or lifestyle.

Is there a point where you give up being your real self, and give your best self, for the sake of the relationship? What about vice versa?

You can only every control yourself, your actions and emotions, so this isn’t about changing your partner. What I’m asking is how have you managed that tension between giving your best self to your partner, and being your real self? Can the two ‘selves’ exist? Can you be real, but still give the best of yourself to your partner? I’m curious, let me know.

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4 comments

  1. Rosemary

    The advice given to me on my wedding day was this, “in a marriage you give, give and give again!”
    If you both do this then you have a beautiful marriage, when only one (either one) does, that is to say, if one person is selfish, then to keep on giving must be heart breaking.

  2. Emily

    Your selfless best self that serves your partners deepest needs is always the one to offer …. sitting and listening to your wife debrief her week is not gonna kill you lol

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