My giddy girlfriend, Jenna, returned yesterday from her first traveling experience with her new man of four months. Naturally, I inquired, “So, how did you feel traveling with [we will call him] Justin?” Immediately she smittenly rambled into a two-minute monologue of all the things they did on their weekend getaway … “It was great! I met his college friends, he showed me the Great Arch, we went to the best restaurants and it even snowed!” Her buoyant tone while detailing her jaunt made it clear that she was more than satisfied with how the weekend went.
But that is not what I asked. I asked how she felt during the weekend.
Her blushing cheeks deblushed a bit and she eventually divulged that although the weekend was full of fun activities, she was in knots the entire time and when she got home, she was exhausted … emotionally. Not to mention, she was so anxiety ridden the entire time, she couldn’t even release herself in the bathroom, if you know what I mean.
Since she clicked “buy” on Travelocity, she had been daydreaming about how it would go, thinking that if it went well, then it would be a big sigh of relief—this would mean that their relationship really did have potential! To achieve “wellness” she worked tirelessly to be the perfect girlfriend on the trip—to try to anticipate and tend to all of her boyfriend’s needs on the trip as well as appear ideal to his cherished long-term friends. She thought about what to say/not to say, what to wear/not to wear, how affectionate to be and when, she had truly masterminded the impending experience and for all intents and purposes, her efforts had served her well; they did have a great time. However, in her well-intended attempts, she exhausted herself. After all, being “on” is energy depleting; being yourself is energy creating.
I get it. When in a burgeoning relationship, one that you hope has potential for permanency, moments can feel fragile—as if you break one of them, the whole thing may fall apart. In some ways this is a good feeling; it excites us and motivates us to be our best selves. However when the line gets blurred from being our best self to what we think we should be, we tip to the side of unhealthy. Simply, we are designed to be true to and present who we already are, not to wear a mask hoping our real selves doesn’t get revealed. This is the difference between living authentically and living in fear of self.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t try your best in relationships? Of course not. It just means that trying shouldn’t exhaust you; it shouldn’t steer you from your natural, authentic self. Healthy relationships should lift you up, not bring you down; healthy relationships should be safe havens to be yourself.
You are good enough just as you are … right now. Breathe into this idea—embrace the notion that you are lovable as you exist right now. You … do … not… need to be someone else. You do not need to mastermind your dating experiences … you only need to show up and unwrap the gift that you already are.
So what is the moral of this post? If you don’t think of yourself as a #1, you won’t be able to go #2.
Tips for Traveling with a Lova:
1. Think of the trip as an opportunity to get to know each other more intimately, not as a make-or-break experience.
2. Be flexible to changes of plans and moods (yours and his!).
3. When you go up, up, and away … don’t get carried away! Concentrate on being present, not fixated on how what happens now might affect the future.
4. When evaluating how it went, think about how you feel during and right after the trip. This will tell you all you need to know.
5. Pack lightly … Don’t use trips with new partners as chances to have planned serious talks. If they come up, go with it, but don’t plot—instead, just flow.
6. Pack lightly, literally. Go with one color scheme, i.e. clothes that go with black shoes or clothes that go with brown shoes. This minimizes the amount you need to bring in the accessories department.
7. Even if you need to bring prune juice, go to the bathroom!
By Tristan Coopersmith: Love Stylist