I woke up one morning, flooded with frustrations at my boyfriend. Why doesn’t he do this? If he cared enough about me, he would make the effort, right? I got caught up with all these dramatic stories I made up in my mind with this list full of the things he was doing wrong. I wanted to lash out. I wanted to pull away and give him the silent treatment. I wanted him to be in a certain way without me needing to say anything. He should “just know” and serendipitously fit the image of my perfect man. Hmph!
What I ended up doing next was completely out of character: I called him up crying and telling him how I was feeling.
This is the woman who barely cried. This is the woman who has to have it all together because she’s a freaking dating coach. What the hell are you doing, Kat?
The masks we wear
In the early stages of a relationship, we often try to exhibit and show up as this certain version of ourselves to our partner… aka the best side we “think” our partner wants to see. Sure, you are still yourself but just with parts of your personality or behaviors dialed up or down than your status quo if you were single or with your close friends.
I get it. You’re still trying to make a good impression. Internally, you’re going “hey, please stick around because I’m not THAT weird / crazy / awkward / insecure / uncertain / emotional / boring / whatever word you’re scared to be described as.” You’re worried about scaring the other person off or because you don’t know if they’ll fully accept you as you are.
You may timidly reveal yourself based on how courageous you feel at that moment or how comfortable your partner makes you feel. When you finally do, an inner part of you suddenly holds your breath as you intently stare at your partner waiting to see how they react. It’s as if your fear of abandonment or feelings of not-enough could swallow you whole. “Was that ok? Did they end up freaking out exactly like how you imagined in your head?” You worry if this one thing you reveal becomes THE thing that makes them go “oh hell no, I’m out!”
The fears that surface
When deeper emotions get involved, it’s like you become a different person. You are more sensitive as there is so much more at stake now. You’re scared of getting hurt. You’re worried about being alone again. Oh, the horror!!
Hi, I’m Kat. I’m a dating coach, and I still get plagued by these exact same fears. I have worked on myself a lot and I thought of myself (and prided myself) in becoming more secure in a relationship than my prior anxious attachment self. (Honestly, I was just as surprised as he was as I had no idea where the hell did all this come from either.)
I realized that no matter how much you work on yourself, some of these fears don’t get triggered until you’re IN the relationship and placed in scenarios that make you face your fears. *Cue the uggghhh’s* Yup, these are your lessons to learn and overcome.
Walking you through my thought process
These were the thoughts that went through my mind:
- If I am telling him that it’s ok to show me his emotions and that emotions aren’t bad or wrong, then I need to do the same.
- If I want him to be more comfortable with me and have a safe space where we can reveal more vulnerable sides of ourselves, then I need to do the same.
- I needed to trust him that he can handle himself and my emotions, however they might show up… And if he couldn’t, at least I now know and I have the power to choose what to do afterwards. (But luckily, my boyfriend handled himself and my out-of-the-blue call tactfully with such loving kindness.)
In addition, here are the things I consciously made an effort to do, too:
- I took some deep breaths to calm myself down and reminded myself all those things I was telling myself earlier were just unsubstantiated stories. Talking to him is the only way I’ll know his side of the situation.
- In the moment, I did the best I could to tell him how I’m feeling without blaming or shaming him. I owned how I was feeling and asked him for what I needed at that very moment.
- I knew my overreaction was triggered by some sort of underlying concern or baggage that I wasn’t aware of yet. So I brought that to his attention and told him that I would take the time to process what happened to understand what brought all this up and will talk to him later about it.
To my relief, the call ended in the best way possible.
My initial concerns that brought up this “outburst” were addressed. He calmed me down and helped me feel better. As promised, I also put on my calendar reflective time to process what the hell had happened.
…and what came out was fascinating! I had no idea these were the thoughts, beliefs, and past experiences that were unconsciously driving my emotional state a few hours earlier. (Yup, more tears poured out, too.) I had to give myself plenty of compassion. I went through my release work process, and reread my love vision to refocus on what I wanted.
We had a conversation later that evening, and I transparently shared the things that came up for me. I also thanked him for how he showed up and how grateful I am for what we have cocreated in our relationship together.
This is all a work in progress
I don’t know if this is the best approach. I might be overcommunicating or overcomplicating what happened. But I rather overdo it than allow assumptions and anything unsaid slowly seep poison into our relationship. I choose to show up as the person I want to be in my ideal relationship.
Trust me, this didn’t come easy or natural to me… even though my boyfriend may say (or believe) otherwise. This took a lot of conscious effort and courage because I want to show up differently than I have in the past. I want to build a relationship where we can openly communicate about things like this. More importantly, I have to be myself with him and be able to share my truths.
Eventually, any facades you put up will have to come down, so it’s better to do it sooner than later. The best time is to actually not have it up in the first place.
But hey, we’re all human with our unique set of fears and insecurities, and we’re all doing the best we can in the moment. However, you can always choose how to show up next.
So what is something or a side of you you’ve been scared to show your partner or date? How can you create the opportunity to courageously reveal that part of you? How can you create a safe space within you and build the trust in yourself that you can handle whatever happens when you reveal that to your partner or date?
P.S. If you’d like some support, feel free to reach out and set up a clarity call with me to see how I can help.
In times like this, I can hear my mom’s voice sharing this amazing Chinese phrase, which I’ll attempt to capture its essence here: “What’s not yours can never be obtained, no matter how hard you chase. What's meant to be will be yours, no matter how far you run away.”
Cheers to courageously reveal your true self and show up as your best self.
Psst, the featured photo is by Karolina Grabowska via pexels