Social Question

cadetjoecool's avatar

How do I "be myself" in a relationship if people are pressuring me to be someone I'm not?

Asked by cadetjoecool (218points) February 18th, 2011

I’ve found that once I’m in a relationship with someone, people (mostly my family) start pressuring me like crazy…

For example my Grandparents want me to “speak highly of my church”. My parents pressure me to stay a virgin. My cousin Rick just pokes fun at me. I feel obligated to be extra courteous to her and her parents.

I know that they’re my family and they just want to help, but I don’t get how I’m suppose to “be myself” If people are pressuring my to be someone I’m not.

I take relationships seriously and with maturity (or at least try to), so please answer in the same fashion. Also, I’m sorry if some of this didn’t make sense, I’m really tired right now…

Thanks a bunch!

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27 Answers

takaboom's avatar

If they care about you and you know they mean well, then just sit them somewhere, or go some place private or whatever, and explain that that makes you feel uncomfortable. Might be hard to do but if they care they will listen and do what you ask of them.

If they still keep pushing after you have told them, I say just don’t even worry about them anymore. Just distance yourself. I like my family pretty okay, but with the exception of my parents, I am not close to any of them.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m having a hard time imagining how you would be different if you weren’t receiving this pressure? Do you have to do whatever people pressure you to do?

Why can’t you just not do whatever people are pressuring you to do that you don’t want to do? You don’t have to talk about church, do you? Your virginity status is none of your mother’s business. Cousin Rick… well, that’s what guys do, you know? And courtesy… Are you trying to say that being courteous is not you?

It’s your relationship, and you don’t have to tell anyone what happens inside it. It’s private. It’s ok to be private. If, for some reason, it is not ok to be private in your family or church, then lie. They can’t know what it really going on.

You are who you are. You can’t help that. Maybe you are a person who is strongly influenced by family. Is that what the problem is? Do you want to stop being so influenced by family? Do you want to stand up to family? Do you feel guilty if you don’t do what they want?

To “be yourself,” you have to have an idea of who you are and who you want to be. You have to identify specific behaviors that you want to get rid of, or that you want to reinforce. If you come back with a list like that, it’ll be easier to help you.

6rant6's avatar

You have the idea that “being yourself” is the goal? Where did that come from? It’s something people aim for when they’re too lazy to improve themselves.

I’m not saying that your family is right to pressure you. You should be the one setting goals for yourself and working on them. Maybe they don’t see that in you and are trying to supply something.

Being yourself? Who are you, Peter Pan?

Coloma's avatar

To thy own self be true.

Anyone that seeks to change or control you are not people you can have loving and authentic relationships with. Let them go, if not physically, emotionally.

marinelife's avatar

You need to set boundaries lovingly with your family.

If you want your relationship to be off-limits, as a topic of conversation, just stick to that. Say to your grandparents and your parents. “Grandpa, Thanks for your interest, but I’ll handle my relationship in my own way.” (or something like that in your words). To your parents, say “Mom or Dad, I don’t care to discuss my sexuality with you.”

Just repeat it in the face of their persistence. Also, if they persist, leave the room. If you just remain calm and repeat the same things, they will get it.

As for your cousin, that is a little more difficult. If you respond in any way, that is likely to egg them on to say more.

You could try bringing up something you know (about their love interest?) that thye don’t want to talk about. You could say something like, “OK, Rick, since relationships are fair game, how about we talk about what you and X did last weekend. That should shut them up.

gailcalled's avatar

How old are you? Do you still live at home?

If you have established your emotional and financial independence, then you can follow @marinelife‘s excellent advice (as always).

Judi's avatar

How old are you? Do you still live with your family? this will make a difference in the answer.
Each of my adult children have taken nearly a year of their life ( or more) with little contact from the family in order to discover who they are. It is real hard for people so close to see anything but the image of you that they have established through your life.

Supacase's avatar

They are trying ton influence who you are – which is what they are supposed to do as they are raising you. At some point, you listen to what they say then keep what fits and discard the rest. Be prepared at that point to defend your decisions. It is your responsibility to remain true to yourself, not their responsibility to stop trying to shape you into the person they hope you will be.

cadetjoecool's avatar

“I’m having a hard time imagining how you would be different if you weren’t receiving this pressure? Do you have to do whatever people pressure you to do?”

Whether you intend to or not, you are always influencing the people around you through words, actions, and energy (aka attitude). So when my grandparents even introduce the fact that I should speak highly of my church, it changes what I think I should do in my relationship.

Granted this example would make a very small change, they are still pressuring me to do something I wouldn’t normally do. It’s sort of a peer pressure. If I don’t speak highly of my church I feel bad about it. If I do speak highly of my church, I feel like I have to rely on my grandparents to tell me what to do in the relationship…

I love my family and I don’t want to just reject them… So I guess that’s my real problem.

“To “be yourself,” you have to have an idea of who you are and who you want to be. You have to identify specific behaviors that you want to get rid of, or that you want to reinforce. If you come back with a list like that, it’ll be easier to help you.”

This is something I’ve thought long and hard on in the past. I want to be the kind of person that brings the best out of people. I want to explore the world and enjoy life. It’s hard to sum up the essence of who I am in just a few sentences… So here’s an article about the personality type that I think I am.

“You have the idea that “being yourself” is the goal? Where did that come from? It’s something people aim for when they’re too lazy to improve themselves.”

When I use the term “be yourself”, I mean literally be yourself regardless of what other people may say or think.

“How old are you? Do you still live at home?”

I’m 16, I currently live with my parents and my moms parents in the same house along with three siblings. Well actually, two siblings during school, my older brother is attending college in Philadelphia.

That’s a really good answer, thank you.

6rant6's avatar

@cadetjoecool What? Were you thinking that repeating the term was defining it? If you were then you need to know that what that is actually called is, “Repeating the term”.

What the hell is “Be Yourself”? Every decent, thinking person is constantly in conflict with themselves. Do I do what would make me happiest or what would make someone else happiest? Do I do what will be the best today, or what will be better in the long run? Do I trust someone who has advised me well in the past, or do I go on my intuition?

You are what you do. That’s it. There’s no magic icon behind that. There’s nothing to discover or release, or unveil.

So I say, don’t worry about being yourself. Worry about being “the best you can be”. No wait, I take that back, that has bad associations – killing people and whatnot.

How about “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…”? Still not quite there. But it’s close.

“All you ever wanted from the day you were born was to contribute”? Maybe that’s part of it.

Well. I suppose figuring out what it is you’re up to is the first thing. Then MAYBE you can start telling your family to butt out. I’m guessing, though, that if you’re actually doing they will have less to say.

Pattijo's avatar

Stop trying to be perfect , no one is or ever will be perfect and at the same time your giving your power away to everyone and leaving yourself out .
Respect your family and friends of course though take back your power . It’s your life !

I take it your 18 or over ?

gailcalled's avatar

@Pattijo: He says above that he is 16.

everephebe's avatar

How do you be yourself? Stop listening, to anyone else, do what’s in you heart.
The pressure a family can bring to a relationship can easily kill it.

Summum's avatar

It was asked about what a man/woman is. This question will help you understand that. You can’t be what you are not especially if someone tries to make you that way.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Just because people “Should On You” doesn’t mean you have to do what they tell you to do. Thank them for their advice, and do as you please.

6rant6's avatar

@everephebe “Do what’s in your heart”? You mean like, steal the BMW you want? Cheat on your SO? Eat the whole bag of caramel corn? He’s 16 for Chrissake! He’s hormone driven as it is. Don’t tell him to do whatever occurs to him. Tell him to find some purpose, be part of something bigger than himself.

Jesus. “Do what’s in your heart.” “Do as you please”. Do you people know ANY teenagers?

everephebe's avatar

@6rant6 I was assuming his heart wasn’t a sociopathic moron, and that he was a person with fairly good judgment for a 16 year old.

@6rant6 I realize that the language I used could be interpreted, in a diverse manner. However I wasn’t inciting the OP to do whatever-the-fuck they wanted, nor act any impulse. I meant he should act with his own conscious, which is what he is doing unless he is unconscious. What the OP needs is the benefit of the doubt otherwise I’d personally say shoot him in the head now rather then later. At 16 you’re still a human being correct? I recall being 16.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
everephebe's avatar

@6rant6 I understand what you’re saying, I disagree with you. I think 16 year old need to make mistakes every once and while and if they don’t, they go for the big ones. He sounds like he is smothered. I’m not saying he should listen to anything that pops up in his head, just the thoughts. And act, on not whatever he hears, but on who he is. His true nature. I understand your argument about hormones, I myself had trouble with those. But as far as being yourself, doing exactly what you are told, because you are told is not great.

I didn’t say, “act on your impulses kid, go get ‘em.” Youth is spoiled on the young. Humans make mistakes, so why shouldn’t he? I’m talking about gut feelings here, you know visceral reactions to what he should do. That’s the heart I’m talking about, the core of who he is. Go with you core feelings not your whims. Things that are solid, fixed feelings. I wasn’t trying to be noble. Heart is a dirty word I can understand your hesitations. But really consequences will teach us all we need to know. And if he can listen to his own thoughts, and decide which ones are unshakable and aren’t passing desires or temptations, find out what he truly believes he should do, that’s good.

@6rant6 I should have been clearer in my initial post. I see how it’s been taken by you, I didn’t think that it would be read that way. Who eats a whole bag of candy corn? :D

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
everephebe's avatar

@6rant6, I was a pretty clueless 16 year old, but not as clueless as you describe. I’m trying to say it’s too late for his mom to get an abortion.

“So if he thinks he ought to be a movie video producer, he should do it? Or if he thinks he should be an NBA player, he should spend all his time at the local gym? Should he listen to that persistent voice that tells him he’s going to be the next American Idol? And drop out of school to practice?” Sure.

Seeking other people’s validation can be just as big of a problem. He has found something to be part of, a relationship. I don’t issue licenses. I don’t think all the Jellies out there give out “absolution” to people seeking it.

Being yourself is about knowing yourself. Knowing something is understanding it, to understand you must listen. When I say act, I don’t mean act out. “Act responsibly, you are responsible to yourself,” is what I could have said.

@cadetjoecool, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings in your family? Be diplomatic then and neutral. But you can do this, while having your own feelings, you can be yourself while not acting on all your feelings. You don’t have to show all your cards, to everyone but don’t compromise who you are, and try not to lie. Talk to your family about your feelings, ask for their help, they usually can help solve your problems. I understand that family means loving, and caring people who want the best for you. The truth is they don’t know what is the best for you always. And in the end your life is up to you. The more you act like an adult the more your parents will treat you like one, that means talking to them about how they are treating you on their level.

I feel like I trained my family to stay out of my relationships, unless I asked for help. I trained my folks to respect some of my privacy. I did this by asking nicely, and not so nicely.

cadetjoecool's avatar

Thank you for your input, but until you learn to control yourself I am going to have to ask you not to post in this thread again. As you are flaming, going far off topic, and making false assumptions.

I don’t understand some of what you just said, but what I did understand was pretty helpful. I think I’m going to try communicating with my parents on a deeper level if you know what I mean.
Thanks Everyone!

6rant6's avatar

@cadetjoecool “until you learn to control your self ”? Really. And you think I’m flaming.

Anyway, what specifically about this relationship lures your parents into monitoring it? Is there say, a significant age difference? Does the other bear signs of habits your parents react to? Do you choose your dates to get under your parents’ skin? I know you’re concerned about posters making false assumptions, so let’s have the facts!

everephebe's avatar

@cadetjoecool You know how parents can say to you, “Go to your room,” and you have to? Sometimes you have to make decisions and tell them, rather than ask permission. You have to know when to do this, because it can be playing with fire. Make your own choices, don’t make demands.

All relationships are about building rapport and understanding even relationships with your family. Actively listen to your family, consider what their saying, be thoughtful. Pressure comes from people thinking they can change you, or that you aren’t listening. Make sure that they know that they can’t really change who you are, but that you’re listening.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks. Please remember to disagree without being disagreeable. Personal attacks have been removed.

SABOTEUR's avatar

“I know that they’re my family and they just want to help, but I don’t get how I’m suppose to “be myself” If people are pressuring me to be someone I’m not.”

You will always be surrounded by people who’ll have certain expectations of you or who’ll expect you to be a certain way. “Being yourself” simply means developing the maturity to accept that it’s alright not to live up to someone else’s expectations…

without making yourself feel guilty about your decision.

You might begin by understanding…and acknowledging…that as much as you try, you’ll never be able to please everyone.

(It’s not your job, anyway.)

So much easier to do please yourself. After all, it is your life. If they don’t like the decisions you make, tough…

…they’ll get over it (or not) in due time.
Addendum: Was reading over previous responses; I’m not clear if the question was posed my an adult or a minor. If this is a young person’s question, I have a slightly different response.

Adults, namely your parents or guardians, have the task of guiding you toward being a healthy, mature adult. Every kid goes through balancing what they want to do (or be) as opposed to what everyone else wants them to be.

I think they call this process “growing up”. It’s often confusing and frustrating as hell but we all go through it.

I guess the beat advice would be to understand that (a) your parents or guardians love you and only want what (they think) is best for you. You’ll have to measure other people’s “suggestions” by the manner in which it’s given.

In any case, *don’t sweat it”. As you mature, you’ll learn to distinguish what’s right for you and what’s not. You’ll make your decisions accordingly.

Until then, enjoy being young.
It ain’t gonna last.

wundayatta's avatar

Being yourself is a different thing in different familial contexts. Some families have very narrow boundaries for acceptable behavior, and others are more liberal.

People have to choose all the time whether they will do what they believe in, or whether they will honor the wishes of their parents and other family members. In some cultures, filial piety is very important. Asian cultures are often like this. In the US, things are usually different. Here, it’s as if the parents owe the children, rather than the other way around.

Of course, your family may be different.

If you feel like you are different than your family, and they wouldn’t approve of or support you as you really are, then you have a number of options. Depending on how strict your family is, you may have to leave. Move out. In other families, they might respect differences, and you might be able to speak your truth without a lot of trouble. In between, you may have to hold your tongue, and keep your true self to yourself, and act like a family member when you are with your family, and act like yourself when you are with your people, whoever they are.

I think the key is believing in who you think you are. Not just that, but if you are someone your parents disapprove of, then you have to let that slide right through you. You can respect them even if their opinions are not relevant to your life. And you don’t have to make it a right or wrong issue. You can both be right. You don’t have to stick your stuff in your parents’ faces. It takes strength of character to do this, and it takes belief in yourself. That is, if you believe something, you have to let yourself believe it, and not worry about what other people, even your parents, believe.

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