After a year that held deeply personal relationship strife and struggle, I’ve found myself in multiple discussions over the past 12 months about relationships. Relationships that are intimate, romantic, polarity-charged, and lasting in nature. Topics revolve around what they mean, how we find them, and perhaps the larger quandary of how they’re sustained over time. Not to mention: how they fall apart.

I’m reminded that every so often—but mostly very rarely—we come across someone that just seems to fit in the nook. It starts with a glance. Or a smell. Maybe an angle in the light. A conversation. We’re drawn in; perhaps slowly at first but with increasingly exciting speed. We feel the static in the air.

That static! We want more.

At once a familiar tingle, yet unlike any tingle we’ve felt prior. Does that make sense? When I’m in this place, a place that feels like home through and through, I’ve been forced to consider what we’re tasked with beyond that initial feeling. What grace do we allow ourselves and where must we step in?

In such a virgin moments—statically-charged moments of living—we’re just beginning to get under the surface. We’re innocent creatures in these times, delicately navigating the waters, acutely aware of how the past has shaped us and brought us to this moment. Yet for the sake of the relationship, and your partner, and yourself, where do you go from here? Is there such thing as an intelligent move amidst lust? What about love? I believe there is:

Stay authentic, be true to yourself, and don’t hold back.

Living that truth can be quite difficult, but with practice, it starts to become second nature. What does that statement really mean? Written out, it’s so surface level it hurts to say it aloud, I know. So let’s dig a bit deeper.

Being authentic means to be real and genuine. It means don’t fake it. We all know when we’re being fake (hey, it can be fun at times), but being fake as a lifestyle is absolute bullshit. Too many people live their lives with a general facade mostly because they’ve never been empowered to be genuine, or because they’re protecting a past hurt. This is not new knowledge; it’s just how we’ve all been taught to be. We’re a culture of fakes because it’s easy.

Living your life authentically means being honest with yourself and therefore being honest with your friends, family, and relationships. Imagine how freeing a life without fabrication and half-truths would be. Really: imagine that for yourself. Right now.

Being true to yourself feeds authenticity and the openness of relationships because you give yourself permission to be entirely honest with how you’re feeling: I want to do this; I don’t want to do that; This makes me feel great; This makes me feel awful.

Being true to yourself is taking stock. This is you, and only you, listening to your body, mind, and spirit. That pesky inner voice that usually knows better. What are you feeling? What are you telling yourself? The longer you ignore the cues, the sicker you and your relationships become.

In order for a flower to blossom it needs doses of sun and water, plus some measure of care taking. But what happens with too much sun and too much water? Or perhaps with care taking that is sub-par?

The answer is, it suffers. Sometimes irreparably.

When we take constant stock of ourselves we know when to say, Hey, this is too much for me, and that—a simple acknowledgment—is the key to being true to you.

Take that nap. Discuss a boundary with your partner. Mention what your body is telling you. Whatever it is, give of this and you will be glad you did. It cannot be held in for long.

I’m finding that dictating your authenticity and being true to yourself (as self study, entirely) informs how well you and your partner, or your other relationships in general, will communicate from the get-go. There’s nothing more freeing than to be in a relationship built on such pillars from the beginning because there is nothing to hide.

When I’m asked about my previous relationships, or asked to give advice about friends’ current relationships, this is where I’ll always begin. There is absolutely nothing else you can build from that will forge a safe place for which you can thrive in your truths. And I want that for you. You should want that for you.

The best relationships I’m thankful enough to be a part of are built on communication and trust. And the good news is you can get started right now. You can choose right now, in this exact moment, to live your truth with those you care about. Odds are, you’ll get the same back.

If you don’t, something tells me they don’t need to be taking up so much of your life.

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