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Recent research in psychology: What does it mean to feel authentic in a relationship?

By rt69 on flickr.com (Queereaster) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A recent study by Serena Chen and Muping Gan of the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology discusses the “relational self” — the notion that who we are often changes depending on who we are with. A person’s behavior changes, for instance, when they are with their parents, colleagues, friends or romantic partner. Gan and Chen examined levels of authenticity that individuals felt with regard to their relational selves. In other words, do you feel like yourself when you’re around your parents or your best friend? Does being your “authentic self” in a romantic relationship lead to a greater sense of well-being? Your “ideal self,” on the other hand, is that person you aspire to be, not necessarily who you really are. To oversimplify their study, it turns out being one’s “ideal self” in a relationship leads to greater well-being than being one’s “authentic self.”

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