This study suggests there’s a better alternative to being your ~true self~ in a relationship

Relationships are tricky. That, friends, is obvious. But what this new study is suggesting is making an extremely complicated subject even more complicated (~thanks~). So allow us to break this down for you: new research is suggesting that couples are happier in relationships that make them feel like the best, most aspirational version of themselves. On the flip side, they’re less likely to feel fulfilled in a relationship if they don’t feel that it’s pushing them to be better people.

Translation: Being your “ideal self” in a relationship is better than being your “authentic self.”

In the study, published by The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers surveyed participants about their “actual self” and their “ideal self. AKA, who you are versus who you want to be. Then, they asked participants how they behaved in their relationships, how much they felt they could really be themselves in a relationship, and how often they felt they had to fake it.

In their findings, researchers Muping Gan and Serena Chen found that participants felt their relationships were more authentic when they behaved in a way that their ideal self would. For example, even if Netflix and chilling is your favorite hobby (we’re guilty!), you still make the bed and change out of your PJs every time your beau comes over. Because, ~love~.

Okay, that’s a lot. Marinate on that for a second, and come back when you’re ready. Ready? If you really think about this scenario, it makes a lot of sense.

It’s natural to feel more fulfilled when you’re challenged a little — tougher jobs, harder workout classes, and super-healthy diets are all examples of that. Stick with those challenges, and at the end of the day you’ll be a better employee (or get a raise, yas!), build abs of steel, and have a healthy body. Because when you pull through on a difficult task, you’re stronger and better off for it.

However, pah-lease don’t read this as: you must change yourself to uphold impossible standards in order to make your partner happy. THAT IS NOT THE POINT. Because while this study says many couples are happier in relationships that challenge them to be better people, you’ve got to do what’s right for you, “ideal” or “actual.”

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