4 ways authentic communication leads to healthy love
Deep down, we all want to be loved. But sometimes our desire for a romantic relationship is so strong that it leads us to show up as less than our full selves in our digital conversations. This then leads to a relationship that isn’t based on the whole truth – and that kind of relationship cannot last. Honesty is the best policy. We all know that. But when it comes to exchanging messages with prospective dates, it can be tempting to censor ourselves or present ourselves less than completely in a slightly different light in the hope of finding that elusive connection. At the root of inauthentic communication is fear.
Our fears are unique to each of us but here are some potential fears: the fear that we’ll never find our person; that we’ll be rejected if we show up as our true selves; that we are not enough; that we won’t be loved; that we will always be alone.
When we communicate from a place of fear, we are at risk of not telling the whole truth. For example, perhaps we are embarrassed to share our age, to disclose parts of our relationship history, to talk honestly about our faith, or to say that we would or wouldn’t like to have children.
We might also be afraid to say that we don’t want to message so frequently or that we’d like to communicate more regularly. In short, we’re scared to be ourselves or to set healthy boundaries in case we put the other person off. Instead, we think of ways to tell our prospective date what we think they want to hear.
Yes, we want to put our best foot forward when communicating with dates, but it’s important to stay true to ourselves.
Our fear of disconnection and our hunger for connection can also prompt us to stay silent when our intuition is telling us to speak up or walk away. For example, maybe our date says something that doesn’t sit right with us, or oversteps our boundaries somehow, yet we ignore our intuitive voice and we let the comment or the behaviour go unchallenged.
I am in favour of giving people the benefit of the doubt. Dismissing dates instantly – finding reasons to reject them – can be a sign of commitment-phobia. I did this myself for years. Yet many of us swing too far in the opposite direction. We ignore the tap on the shoulder or the feeling in our gut and we bury our concerns, because we want the relationship to work out.
But when we override our intuition and silence our truth, we once again build an inauthentic relationship that has shaky foundations and cannot last.
So how do we turn down the volume on our hunger for connection and show up authentically in our messaging? Here are a few suggestions:
Know who you are. Love who you are
This is basic stuff, right? In a way, yes, but some of us go into dating without a clear sense of ourselves or our values. Perhaps we’ve always been afraid to express our opinions or speak our truth. Maybe we carry a sense of shame, which could be a legacy from our childhoods. For me, knowing who I am, loving who I am and owning who I am is a lifelong endeavour, like strengthening a muscle in the gym. But the more I love and accept myself and let go of the desire to be who you want me to be, the easier it is to relate to others authentically.
Trust in the process and in God’s timing
As discussed above, fear of not getting what we want or of losing something we have leads us down the path of dishonesty or inauthenticity. Ask yourself, am I dating from a place of fear or faith? If the former, can you identify your fears, clarify them, pray about them and find support to overcome them or walk through them? Also ask yourself: do I trust in God’s timing or am I trying to control the outcome of every interaction? If you are holding on tightly, how can you hold on loosely? How can you grow in trust?
Get into the muddle
This is an invitation to have the uncomfortable, sometimes messy conversations rather than avoid them. If your date oversteps your boundaries or says something that unsettles you, first try to understand what’s triggered you. You can do this through journaling or by talking with a friend or a professional.
As you do this, try to understand whether your date’s words or behaviour have triggered a memory from your past. When our early life wounds are triggered, we can react strongly. Once we have separated the past from the present, we can then discuss our upset or clarify what’s been said. It takes courage to have these conversations but without them, we can end up in a dishonest relationship.
Understand that honesty leads to intimacy
When we are honest with our prospective dates, speaking up when necessary, sharing our truth and being willing (slowly, over time, and without haste or urgency) to share all of ourselves without self-censorship, we have a real chance of building an authentic, intimate relationship. When we are honest, we also find out much sooner whether the other person is right for us or not. Honesty is a gift – to ourselves and to other people.
I hope these steps support you to communicate from a place of faith rather than fear, trusting that you are enough and that God has your back and I hope they give you the courage to let go of control and believe that everything is unfolding as it’s meant to.
How easy have you found authentic communication when dating online?
Enjoyed reading ‘4 ways authentic communication leads to healthy love’? Try ‘How to stay true to yourself when dating‘ and ‘4 truths to remember while looking for love‘ for more advice on emotionally healthy dating