In the early or “honeymoon” stage of a relationship, couples strive to put their best foot forward. They’ll groom themselves to perfection, plucking nose hairs and shaving above the knee. They’ll go out of their way to be romantic (chocolate-caviar cake pops, anyone?), and may exaggerate a strength or two in an effort to impress their date – just take a look at pretty much any online dating profile.
I love when the studies we do at Queendom.com bust myths. We’ve torpedoed the belief that a big paycheck is the only way to motivate people, exploded the cliché that people these days care more about money than social values, and destroyed some rather unhealthy beliefs about relationships. In time for Valentine’s, I wanted to look at the importance of authenticity in relationships – of being you true self, quirks and all.
A recent study we conducted at Queendom suggests that new couples who venture out this Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves. Our research indicates that people who are genuine and straightforward tend to be more confident and happy, compared to those who put on a mask or try to be someone they are not.
We studied two contrasting groups of people (a sample of 3,212 in total):
- The “Authentic” group believes in being honest in relationships, even if it means revealing their faults to their partner or friends.
- The “Pretender” group, on the other hand, believes that a certain amount of deception is necessary in relationships. They also admit to intentionally presenting themselves in ways that are very different from who they really are.
When we compared the groups on factors like happiness, frequency of conflict, and self-confidence, the differences were striking.
- When asked whether they have close friends, 1% of the Authentic group and 7% of the Pretender group confessed that they didn’t have anyone in their life that they could consider a close friend.
- When asked to rate their social popularity, 8% of the Authentic group and 26% of the Pretender group rated themselves as being fairly unpopular.
- When asked to rate their level of happiness, 13% of the Authentic group and 41% of the Pretender group indicated that they are rather unhappy.
- When asked how frequently they experience conflict, 18% of the Authentic group and 43% of the Pretender group indicated that they find themselves getting into arguments more often than other people.
- When asked whether they used the services of a therapist in the last year, 17% of the Authentic group and 27% of the Pretender group admitted to doing so.
We also compared the two groups on various personality traits, revealing once again that putting on a mask can really take a lot out of you. The Authentic group outscored the Pretender group on several factors, including:
Resilience/Ability to handle stress
- The Authentic group had an average score of 71, compared to 60 for the Pretender group (on a scale from 0 to 100).
- 71 for the Authentic group vs. 51 for the Pretender group
- 73 for the Authentic group vs. 58 for the Pretender group
Willingness to trust others
- 63 for the Authentic group vs. 35 for the Pretender group
- 73 for the Authentic group vs. 54 for the Pretender group
- 78 for the Authentic group vs. 57 for the Pretender group
- 30 for the Authentic group vs. 44 for the Pretender group
So let’s crunch this data: Despite doing their best to be perfect or to be the person that they think others want them to be, the Pretender group still struggled with their confidence. They were still not as popular as they wished they were, and people still didn’t like them. So not only is walking around in the guise of a fake persona tiring and suffocating, it also won’t really get you what you want, whether it’s love or popularity.
Here’s my lesson for Valentine’s aside from skipping chocolates and opting for cupcakes (because who doesn’t love cupcakes?!):
If you go into a relationship thinking you have to be someone you’re not because the “real” you isn’t good enough, you’re wrong. Most people can sense when someone is lying to them – or being fake. The bottom line: If you show your true self, faults and all, you may risk rejection, but it’s better than having someone fall in love with an illusion, particularly an illusion that you would need to keep up for the rest of your life. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you for who you are, that’s their issue, not yours.
Queen “The Cupid” D