As I was writing this article, my efforts to put it into words repeatedly pulled my mind back to the moments when I felt it most strongly. I’m talking about those special moments where you feel comfortable in your own skin while fully connecting with another human being.
For many of us, it’s feeling comfortable in our own skin that is the problem. We can do it while alone, but we find it more difficult when trying to relate to other people. We are the social chameleons. Without even trying to we shift and change to connect and blend in with the people around us. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is the ability to bring joy to other people and build relationships quickly. The curse is the long-time investment required before someone has been with us long enough to realize who we really are. They have to spend a lot of time watching us shift with different colors in different situations before they are able to see the full rainbow that captures the essence of who we really are.
The title of this article is actually somewhat misleading. It’s misleading because many people shift their colors naturally and automatically, not because of a constant need to fit in.
You are not needy, just adaptable. In fact, you might think of this interpersonal characteristic as an indication that someone is selfish. You work to allow other people to feel comfortable. You do so not to manipulate them, but as a knee-jerk response that stems from a genuine desire to make other people feel at ease.
As a dating coach, one of my goals is to remove barriers that might prevent deep romantic bonding with an ideal partner. Some of the sweetest women I know get snapped up out of the dating market slower than counterparts with less desirable qualities. I believe the reason sometimes has to do with the longer time frame required before a man feels like he is connecting with the real woman behind what he perceives as shifting social masks. A man may fail to recognize that she is not wearing a variety of different social masks to keep him at bay, but rather demonstrating the full variety of her true colors.
I don’t have any magical solutions for this problem, but I do have a few tips that you might keep in mind if you are a person with the gift of fitting in.
Here are a few tips:
1.Share the fact that you have a natural chameleon instinct. Share this information with him early on so that he feels like an insider, free to comment on the shifting personalities he sees emerging in different social situations.
2.Find an appropriate time to communicate something to this effect: “One of the reasons I choose to spend time with you is because you bring out my favorite aspects of my own personality. You bring out the best in me, which enhances the value of our relationship. All versions of me are real, but I consciously seek to express some aspects of my personality more than others. At this moment, you are a part of that plan.”
3.If you feel it’s appropriate in your particular situation, do some internal work to overcome social perfectionism. Don’t try to please all people all the time. This requires compassion toward yourself on a daily basis. Practicing compassion in this context means forgiving yourself for not being able to please everyone as you pursue the values and goals that are most important to you.
Humans are incredibly complex and varied. Learning about yourself has incredible power for unleashing your most productive and passionate pursuit of all life has to offer. But don’t let learning take the place of the most important thing, loving yourself and others. Love yourself fully for who you are right now. Don’t wait until you fix a certain habit or adjust for a particular personality trait. Accepting and embracing yourself brings a kind of freedom you can feel in your bones. Full self-acceptance takes courage, but it’s worth it.
Wishing you the best in love and life,