Authentic people are less stressed and do better at work and in relationships.

One of my top recommendations for clients and friends who are dating is to be you. Although you may not list authenticity as a top quality for a partner or friend, recent research suggests it is one of the qualities that we seek in others. Authentic people are generally really fun to be around and easy to read. They tend to be less stressed and more satisfied. They do not trigger red flags like the inauthentic.

So let’s look at how you know if you are being authentic and how to work on being more authentic, while avoiding the trap of overplaying your authenticity.

  1. Talk the talk. Say what you really think. Honor your values, beliefs and ideals above people pleasing and despite possibly making a few waves. If you believe it’s important to reduce your carbon footprint, say so. When you hear someone opining about how they work to save the environment, you can gently call them on driving a gas guzzler. It shows you’re serious about your beliefs. We like people who stand up for what they believe.
  2. Walk the walk. It’s not enough to say what you think, you must also behave consistently. It’s not enough to say everyone should recycle, you have to do it. And if you don’t believe in it enough to do it, you probably shouldn’t be saying it, even if you think it’s a great thing or it’s what the other person believes or wants to hear. People pick up on discrepancies between what you say and what you do. Think of the sinking feeling you have when you realize someone isn’t who you thought they were.
  3. Get feedback. Ask friends if they consider you environmentally conscious. When your girlfriend says it’s difficult to believe you’re serious about your carbon footprint when you’re always wearing something new which came out of your closet of pristine, barely worn clothing, from your newly decorated house, step back and re-examine your values. Becoming aware of disconnects between what you think you believe and the way you behave is essential to becoming more authentic.
  4. Don’t be a pariah. I’m not suggesting you be the hole at a party who complains loudly that the hosts should be using the food to feed the hungry, lowering the a/c to conserve energy and inviting the homeless in for mojitos. You can be consistent with your values yet bow to convention at times. Try to balance when to bow and when to stand up for what you believe.

We like authentic people. Spending time with them feels comfortable and we sense immediately that they’re real. Not only that, but it’s a lot simpler to be yourself than to try to be someone you’re not. Dating someone authentic is like a breath of fresh air.