Authenticity in Love: Honouring Your True Self in Relationships

Authenticity in Love: Honouring Your True Self in Relationships

Do you seek your identity from your social interactions?
Have you felt like you seek belongingness to a group?
Do you feel the need to suppress your own feelings and thoughts to gain a significant other’s attention?

We all have a false front which we think is more likeable or acceptable which is allowed to come to the forefront. If this false self is showing up in all spheres of your life more often than your true self, it might be time to think about who your true self is and what makes it hide behind a pretence…

What is Authenticity?

Being authentic means being your genuine self. It means that what you do and say are congruent with who you are. It is an awareness of what is important to you and holding onto these values when external pressures and expectations need you to behave a certain way. Authenticity comes from the qualities of honestly, confidence and dependability. Authenticity is a subjective experience and may reflect in how you express yourself, who you connect with and how you spend your time. Knowledge and expression of one’s authentic self is seen as the epitome of identity formation. Early childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, can hinder authenticity, leading to defensive communication patterns that restrict self-expression in life and relationships.

How does Authenticity show up in Romantic Relationships?

Authenticity in relationships is the extent to which one can be true, honest and themselves with their partner. Lopez and Rice (2006) explained authenticity in relationships as consistent ways of interaction favouring mutual benefits and exchanges of real-self experiences with an intimate partner. These exchanges continue despite risks of personal discomfort, disapproval, or instability in a relationship.

Authentic relationships form the foundation of a fulfilling life. However, given the multiplicity of roles and responsibilities we have, being authentic all the time may not be viable. We may agree with beliefs, ideas, or attitudes of family, friends, or partners without considering what we feel about them. This inauthenticity often shows up in romantic relationships, leading to feelings of mistrust, hostility, and self-doubt. It prevents us from genuinely connecting with others.

The following behaviours are shared among individuals who live and act authentically in their romantic and personal relationships as studied by Kernis and Goldman (2006):

  • They bring their “whole self” to a relationship and are aware of their intrinsic motives, drives, feelings, and cognitions. They refrain from putting on a fake face to please others.
  • They speak their mind and let others know their stance on things, even if what they have to say is not widely accepted. That is, they behave according to their own inner values and not external expectations.
  • They take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming them on their partner. Such individuals can evaluate themselves in unbiased ways despite their partner’s opinion.
  • They follow through on the things they say they will do for themselves and others reflecting openness and sincerity of their real self.

Indicators of Inauthenticity in Romantic Relationships

We may sometimes portray ourselves as someone who our partner wants or sees us as. This may happen until we feel safe enough to let our guard down. However, if continued, we may be in relationships where:

  • Inability to feel connected to yourself.
  • Being with incompatible partners
  • Being in relationships due to fear or hurt
  • Finding it hard to be in relationships
  • Overextending ourselves in a relationship
  • Trying to exert more control.
  • Inability to say “No
  • Sexual inappropriateness

Benefits of Authenticity

  • Having a true connection with ourselves enhances of self-efficacy and gains more respect. We recognise our true potential. It helps make space for us and our values in our relationships, making them emotionally satisfying and with more depth.
  • Authenticity inspires passion and dedication towards goals, pursuits and hobbies that keep one grounded and motivated.
  • Self-belief, honesty, and confidence are at an all-time high due to clarity on personal strengths and weaknesses along with a willingness to work on them.
  • When our thoughts, feelings and actions are aligned, we are likely to be free from dilemmas and distress that impact mental well-being. We are also likely to pursue behaviours that promote our mental health.
  • Authenticity makes a partner see you for who you are and love you beyond just physical appearances. Your personality speaks for you and there is genuine connection in love.
  • Authenticity is a two-way street. If you are true and genuine, it urges your partner to be the same with you which deepens your relationship based on mutual respect and trust instead of false pretences.

Ways to be Authentic in Relationships

Embark on developing genuine love and connection in your relationship by trying out these strategies:

  • Be Willing and Eager to be Challenged.

Out of challenge, comes a deeper understanding of own privileges. Knowing your flaws, downsides, and the role they play in making you who you are helps keep the romance in relationships.

  • Be Unafraid to be your True Self

Letting go of concerns around judgement and opinions of others and being yourself unapologetically helps attract similar individuals in your life. Without the need to conform or fit in with others, you will be able to be true to yourself while in a relationship with someone else.

  • Love yourself for who you are.

Everyone can improve themselves, but these very qualities also contribute to your uniqueness. Acknowledging and appreciating these enhances self-confidence. Dr. Barbara Markway says, those who have self-confidence and love themselves experience less anxiety, higher levels of motivation, and improved relationships. Authenticity cannot exist without self-love.

  • Spend less time Pleasing Others

Pleasing other people can feel great in the moment, it helps avoid conflict and maintain relationships however it means putting others above you. Feeling the pressure to change yourself, your likings, and your traits to make someone else happy is toxic and hurtful eventually. People pleasing may stem from the fear of abandonment, rejection and need to be praised by others. In the process of gaining people, you may lose yourself.

  • Spend time Alone to Know Yourself

Get to know yourself, spend time to learn about your priorities, your likes and dislikes, your hobbies, and your values. Explore your past wounds and trauma. Observe how those patterns of behaviours and thoughts show up in your life even today. Think about life and answer these few questions that can guide you to learn about yourself:

  • How much of life do you genuinely enjoy?
  • Are the activities that you take part in things that you want to do?
  • Do you genuinely like everyone in your life, or are there some people that you tolerate?


Being authentic to yourself warrants you to be authentic in relationships. Your partner will love you for who you are- all of you. You feel free and your partner makes a conscious decision to be with you knowing and loving your imperfections all the same! Use this quiz to reflect on your authenticity and intimacy in relationships. The higher the score, the more authentic you are! Check your Authenticity in Relationships Scale (AIRS)


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Written By
Shreya Makhija
Counselling Psychologist

Ms. Shreya Makhija is an Assistant Professor at Smt. P.N Doshi Women's College, Ghatkopar, affiliated to SNDT Women's University. She completed her Masters in Applied Psychology (Clinical and Counseling Practices) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in 2021 and has been practicing as a counselling psychologist eversince. She currently runs her own private practice and is a trauma-informed and queer affirmative practitioner. Her areas of expertise include anxiety, depression, self-esteem, relationship related concerns, adjustment related difficulties and work stress. She has facilitated multiple workshops and is a research enthusiast. In her free time, you will find her looking up different recipes to try or at zumba classes

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