Relationships can be messy and complicated, yet they remain the most beautiful connections we can form. But what happens when a partner tells you to put on a happy face and to stay positive no matter what—suggesting that you sweep the mess under the rug? This is what psychologists refer to as “toxic positivity” and it is more common in relationships than we’d like to admit, and detrimental too.
Research is now unraveling why being your authentic self is way better to live than slapping on a fake smile, especially in your love life. In light of this, psychologists are now able to measure whether your relationship embraces authenticity.
“Toxic Positivity” And The Problem With Suppressing Emotions
In a study that investigated individuals’ awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, researchers explored the influence of toxic positivity—the societal pressure to pretend everything’s fine, even when it’s not—on well-being. According to the authors, “When we force our brain to be in a false state of wellness, we send a message to our brain that whatever the emotion is, it is in some way bad or dangerous.”
When we avoid emotional discomfort, we may unintentionally be making those feelings larger and more overwhelming in the back of our minds. Pushing down those real emotions leaves a mark, and those feelings sneak up on you when you least expect it. Avoiding emotional discomfort doesn’t make it disappear; it just amplifies it.
Embracing Authentic Emotions: The Authenticity In Relationships Scale
Relationships thrive on authenticity. Pretending everything’s perfect when it’s not can be like throwing fuel on the flames. Research consistently shows that being open about your feelings is the key ingredient to a healthy and stable love life.
In light of this, research appearing in Personality and Individual Differences aided the development of the Authenticity in Relationships Scale, a tool that helps measure how true to yourself and others you are in your social connections. The scale includes eight items to which respondents rate their level of agreement:
- I always hide my true thoughts for fear of others’ disapproval.
- I usually try to cater to others.
- I do not dare to tell others the truth due to caring for their feelings.
- I am never aware of when to insist on myself and when to compromise.
- I never find ways to reconcile my needs and those of others’.
- I don’t usually tell the truth without concerning how others will think of me.
- I never speak my mind without taking care of others’ feelings first.
- I never offend people by speaking frankly.
Through this scale, researchers have concluded that real-life couples who toss aside the “fake it till you make it” script report more satisfaction and resilience when the going gets tough. The developers of the scale found authenticity to predict higher levels of agency and communion within relationships, as well as greater subjective well-being at the individual level.
A relationship with open conversations, mutual respect and a team mindset should always be the goal. Inauthenticity or toxic positivity, on the other hand, makes for a relationship filled with eye-rolling at genuine concerns, brushing off real issues or pretending everything is sunshine and rainbows when it’s not.
Relationships flourish when emotions are authentically acknowledged and respected.
If you wish to take the Authenticity In Relationships Scale and receive your results, follow this link: The Authenticity In Relationships Scale