Our Flawed Selves
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
When I first became a sex & intimacy coach, I set up a simple website and had a photographer friend come over to take photos for the homepage. I chose a few outfits that I liked. We took a ton of pictures, both inside and outside. I don’t consider myself very photogenic and the awkwardness turns up to 11 when someone is taking photos of me. I am not a model.
A few days after the pictures were taken, he sent them to me. I looked at the 100+ photos and wondered who that person was looking back at me. I looked stiff and unnatural, because that is how I felt when the photos were being taken. I asked friends which pic was their favorite. They hesitated. Someone asked if I could get them taken again. I said no. With great hesitation, I uploaded the best of them to my website and moved on. Regardless of what I thought of the pictures, they looked professional, and that is what I thought was needed.
Months went by and every time I had to look at my homepage, I cringed when I saw my photo. Who was that chick?! “I wouldn’t hire her,” I thought critically.
I recently joined a networking site and had to upload a profile picture. I couldn’t stomach the idea of pulling out the headshots I took before. In my coaching practice, the number one most important thing I impart to my clients is how to be their most authentic selves in relationship to others. If I’m teaching people how to show up as themselves, why would I post a picture on my website that doesn’t represent who I am at all?
I used my cell phone and went out onto my deck. I took pictures by myself, wearing an Adidas hoodie that I have no doubt worn while conducting the majority of my sessions. I still silently criticized myself and didn’t like most of the pictures, because being self-critical is a part of who I am. But all of the pictures had something in common: they felt like me.
When we are first starting out in relationships, we put our best headshot forward. We are a walking, talking commercial of not just our best selves, but the selves we want to be in the future. We are the person who has worked through their issues, learned everything they could from their past relationships and are ready to jump into love with no baggage, no hangups and certainly none of the insecurities that threw wrench after wrench into our last relationship.
Eventually, we find that we can’t sustain perfection and our shine wears off. As it turns out, we really do still have those insecurities. The childhood trauma we experienced still rears its ugly head in front of our partner(s). You’re not as good of a communicator as you said you were in your Bumble profile. Your partner sees the real you. And you see them, for the equally flawed person they are.
This is where the real relationship begins. You and your partner are now navigating not with each other’s clean headshots, but the no-filtered, poorly angled real-deal selfies. The goal of the relationship isn’t to be perfect, but to come as your true, real baggage-carrying self. You’re honest with your issues, committed to navigating through them honestly and with the support of a loving partner who is expecting the same support and love in return. We will see each other’s flaws and trauma and learn to express our needs so that our partner is equipped with the best tools possible to love us the way we need to be loved. The success of a good relationship relies on you being able to tell your partner “Here are the weaknesses I have, and this is what I need when those pop up.” Because when we are able to communicate to our partners how to tend to our deep wounds, that is when healing occurs and intimacy deepens. Our attachment to our partners becomes stronger when we know they can tend to us when we are struggling. But the only way to do that is to first know what your wounds are, what you need from your partner when those wounds are exposed, and how to communicate those needs to your partner.
It's tempting to look back on a relationship’s early days and miss that intense thrill. You and your partner saw each other as perfect people, with no flaws in sight, fully steeped in the fantasies of your best commercialized selves. Those days feel wonderful. They’re important, too; those early days give us the bounce and energy we need when things start to get real. But it isn’t until we put away our cheesy headshots that we get to deeply and actively love and be loved by our partners.
I switched out my cheesy headshot on my website. My homepage and I are now ready for real intimacy.