In college, the only insult sharper than to call someone a “preparer” was to call them a fixer – someone claim being a punk who when in a hurry couldn’t even name three blink-182 songs. In light of this, it seems the news of Kourtney Kardashian’s very public transformation into Travis Barker’s Goth Girlfriend ™ has aroused a sense of nostalgic suspicion in people adopting a new character.
But outside of the cafeteria cliques, or in this case, Warped Tour and E! television, Kourtney is doing something a lot couples are guilty. Whether it’s playing sports because your partner is a die-hard fan or doing tons of reiki when your new boyfriend is a “yogi,” sometimes you start to adopt characteristics of the person you’re dating. And while it is natural for partners to share music hobbies and college sweatshirts, there is a line between creating a two-way exchange with the person you love and letting go of your personal tastes to become their clone.
“There may come a time when the balance breaks, and one partner will do more of what their partner is doing, instead of what their partner is doing. they or they feel comfortable with it, ”said Liam Barnett, dating expert and relationship coach at Bustle.
Barnett describes what I like to call a relational chameleon. Like a lizard changing color to adapt to its environment, you adapt to your partner’s tastes to adapt to their lifestyle. While it could happen once in a person’s life – like the high school cheerleader who married a geologist, became a certified #naturegirl, and never looked back – it can also be an event. serial. Cue it Brad Pitt meme turning into all of his lovers. Or some other members of the Kardashian family.
The benefits of considering your partner’s tastes and hobbies
Much like Kourtney, office assistant Keith (he / him), 24, recently dated a punk in a rock band. While he always dressed more conservatively, Keith says the relationship was a welcome push to be more experimental with his style. “I dated a goth girl and bought Dr. Martens,” Keith told Bustle. “I’m very drawn to the ‘goth’ aesthetic, but I never thought I could do it.”
Apparently, Keith isn’t the only one with this feeling. In September, searches for ‘goth girlfriend’ jumped 340% on boohoo, which Claire Asher, the fashion retailer’s product manager, credits celebs like Kourtney and Megan Fox with taking on the punk rock aesthetic. of their boyfriends.
For Dae (she / she), 25, dating his first girlfriend came with a sense of validation that helped her express her queer identity. “Being in an openly gay relationship allowed me to dive into styles that I’ve always been in, but felt awkward when dating straight guys,” Dae told Bustle.
Adopting your partner’s vibe can be especially appealing to young people who still find their place in the world. “It changed with age,” Rose (they / them), 27, told Bustle. “I think when I was younger I was particularly inclined to match people.”
Looking at relationships since her early twenties, Rose spots a tendency to prey on media – like real criminal podcasts and metal music – that people they date dated. “I was engaging in things that I might not have liked otherwise,” says Rose. “Some of those things that I kept or made my own. Real crime for example, now I write short crime and horror stories.
Amelia Peck, a Certified Marriage and Family Therapist, describes how being in a relationship can encourage you to try new things. And when your partner is different from you – in their hobbies, style, or interests – dating them can make you enjoy new things.
“With clients, I talk about developing a sense of ‘we-being’, a concept of restorative therapy,” Peck told Bustle. This ‘we-ness’ doesn’t necessarily mean finding a new hobby as well. you both like or merge your two existing styles, Peck explains. It just means making room for both partners to feel included and valued in the relationship. In other words, if you like the way your partner gets dressed and you want to dress like him, go ahead. Just make sure you feel at ease with yourself in the process.
Where to draw the line
While tackling our partner’s #webbranding or real hobbies can be a positive part of being in love, Klapow explains that the key here is mutual to exchange.
“Literally trying to be like them is not only damaging to the relationship, but also personally,” said Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist, says Bustle. “We can maintain our individuality in a way that is compatible with the individuality of our partner. “
23-year-old Courtney (she / she) describes this in her own relationship. “I tried to change to be more like my girlfriend when we first started dating, but it didn’t last, and now our life is a mix of the two,” she told Bustle.
For months, Courtney tried to keep track of her girlfriend’s daily gym visits, meal prep and Monica Geller’s cleanliness levels. Still, as they continued to this day, the couple found their own balance. They got a pet, downloaded Postmates, and found a way to be themselves, together.
Still, Klapow and Peck argue that sometimes you just can’t find the balance Courtney did and end up over-responding to your partner’s whims. This behavior can start on purpose – like filling your fridge with your guy’s favorite beer – but Dr. Klapow explains that it’s easy to start mirroring someone subconsciously.
“The more consistent we are with our partners, the more micro-reinforcement and validation we will have,” he says. “Small things like using the same manners, maybe some of the same words, will often elicit a smile, a nod, or increased attention.”
Minor behaviors like picking up regional slang from your partner or copying the way they make grilled cheese are often harmless. Cute, even. But when you find yourself doing things that you don’t really like, just because they like it, you’re probably headed for trouble.
Miranda (she / she), 22, says that in the past she ‘fell into the trap’ of matching her partner, or of ‘cheating’ herself into believing that she liked the things she hated. in fact, just because her boyfriend loved them.
“This guy I dated liked reality TV shows like Big Brother, I would really get started with him, ”says Miranda. “Then we broke up, and when I went to look at it again, I was like, ‘Wait, this is garbage.’ “
Dr LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D. MSS, clinical psychotherapist and author of Training Your Love Intuition, says that a healthy relationship allows each person to enrich themselves and their partner. “But sometimes it can be hard to tell if you are expanding and strengthening your world or if you are adjusting to the point of giving up your values and uniqueness,” Dr. Wish told Bustle.
To some extent, being a relationship chameleon requires losing touch with yourself. While it may be obvious that you are adopting your partner’s identity as, ahem, Kourtney Kardashian in a Cannibal Corpse shirt, changing to a partner can also be more subtle and insidious.
To find out if your relationship adjustment is crossing the line, Dr. Wish suggests evaluating all the new things you’ve been engaged in since dating your partner. Do you really enjoy watching four soccer games in a row every Sunday, or are you willing to spend more time with your partner? Do you like to eat vegan or do you secretly want Popeye?
“Make a list of the things you think you are losing in yourself because you have accommodated yourself too much,” says Dr. Wish.
If you’ve always been a relationship chameleon, Dr Wish says it can be hard to know what you are to do As. If so, you might want to spend some time thinking about what makes you feel energized and fulfilled in your life. Did you like dance lessons when you were a kid? Are you looking for a creative outlet? Maybe you’ve bookmarked some new recipes that sound like fun to cook. Allow yourself time to engage in these hobbies on your own.
Ultimately, changing your attire isn’t the telltale sign of an unhealthy relationship. Luckily college is over, and you have the right to be Posh Spice one day and Sporty the next. Still, if your Instagram timeline looks like the last scene in Grease where Sandy wears leather leggings on a summer day, maybe it’s time to reconnect with your individuality.
As Dr Wish says: “Happy and strong couples learn from each other, without breaking up.
Liam Barnett, dating expert and relationship coach
Amelia Peck, Certified Marriage and Family Therapist
Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist
Dr LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D. MSS, clinical psychotherapist and author of “Training Your Love Intuition”