I don’t have my own identity, so dating and sex are never satisfying

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Hi VICE,

I would say my dating life is fine, especially when compared to the young people around me. Every week I have a date and we usually end up in bed together. Otherwise, I’ll find someone in the club with whom I can have a good night. Recently I even met someone in a coffee house.

Such a date rarely sticks to just one time. I usually become good friends with the people I’ve dated. Only: it never gets more serious than having sex a few times. I think it’s because I never genuine myself on such dates. As a result, the connection never feels genuine.

This is not a new problem for me. Ever since I was young, I have adapted my personality to who I want to be friends with. My mother is like that too. From her I learned that people want to be friends with you if they like you – and you do that by being what they need at that moment.

So that’s the way I enter into relationships: I see how someone is, and then I become that too. This is especially the case with dates: with one person I’m a cynical intellectual, with another an imperturbable stoner, and with another person I’m a reliable, hard-working partner. I enjoy it when my date says things like “where have you been all this time?”, but then I don’t even think about what I think about the date.

This also shows in my sex life. Because when I have sex with someone, my only goal is to do what they like – what I want, I don’t think about that. As a result, I always remain unsatisfied. It can also feel quite lonely.

It may sound dramatic, but the more dates I go on, the more I feel like I’m disappearing. Sometimes I wonder if I have a personality have. I don’t know how to make sincere connections. All this is affecting my love and sex life more and more while I really long to share my life with someone. How do I find out who I really am – and also what I like in bed?

Greetings,

C.


Hi C.,

To start with: it doesn’t have to be a problem at all that you don’t know who you are yet. There is no timeline that determines when you will get last version must be your own – if there is such a thing at all. There is in psychology many different theories about when exactly someone gets ‘a personality’, but the bottom line is that it’s perfectly normal to have different priorities at different stages in your life, and to be influenced by your environment, your work and even the media you use. Life changes, you keep getting new experiences, and you as a person keep changing too.

But: you say it bothers you. You feel like you’re disappearing, that many of your connections don’t feel genuine, and that sex doesn’t give you satisfaction. How do you best approach this?

According to Yuri Ohlrichs, NVVS sexologist and trainer at the Rutgers knowledge center, you often see that in a relationship – whether it is long or very short – there is a lack of balance where you adapt to the other. While that’s fine sometimes, Ohlrichs also sees that it can wear down the adjuster over time. “It’s also important that your happiness and self-esteem don’t depend on other people’s compliments,” he adds.

Now try to focus on yourself first. “It’s nice that you’re considerate of others, whether it’s in your relationship, during sex, or in your daily life,” Ohlrichs says. “But the most important thing is that you have fun too.” One way to do this – and this may sound obvious – is to think about what you’re like when you’re not with someone else. Don’t think in too clichéd terms or personality types here, but think about what you like to do, what you do to relax, what moves you or keeps you up at night. “And also consider: what would you like to tell about yourself on such a date? And also: what do you find attractive in another?” adds Ohlrichs. These things don’t necessarily define you as a person, but they help you get a clearer picture of where you get joy and energy right now. Allow yourself to go on a quest even when it comes to your sexual desires. Masturbate, try something, educate yourself and don’t be afraid to discuss these things with your sex partners. You don’t have to be an expert in everything right away – just take your time.

You don’t sell someone by thinking about yourself, emphasizes Ohlrichs. In the end, you will have the most valuable relationships (with loved ones, but also friends) if you dare to be authentic. It is precisely then that you attract the people with whom you can develop a deep bond. And while a cry game with a random person can be a lot of fun, you may have especially good sexual chemistry with people you have a deeper connection with.

It’s also good to remember that it’s okay not to be everyone’s taste. You indicate that you enjoy it when someone sees you as the ideal partner, but if you want to make genuine connections, you’re guaranteed to have a date that you just don’t click with. “And then use such dates to your advantage,” says Ohlrichs. “You can gain a lot of new insight into yourself through contact with others: why doesn’t it click? And what would I have wanted differently? What makes me like or dislike someone? The more experience you get, the more you can discover your own taste.” You can also easily apply it to the rest of your life: the more comfortable you become with who you are at the moment, the better you can choose where you prefer to put your energy. “Experience makes you more and more authentic,” adds Ohlrichs.

“It’s nice to hear that you are the one who was missing in someone’s life. But it is not sustainable, especially not in a long-term relationship, because there comes a point in your relationship where you also discover each other’s less fine sides,” says Ohlrichs. “If you expect to always be the perfect person for someone, it can be extra hard to digest if they tell you at some point that they don’t like something.”

It also doesn’t hurt to find out where this behavior is coming from. You can do this through a good conversation with friends, or with the help of a coach or therapist. For example, are you afraid that you will be lonely if not everyone likes you? You may have low self-esteem, which makes you feel like you are never enough. Or maybe your view of what it means to “have a personality” is a little skewed. A personality cannot be reduced to a type such as “cynical intellectual” or “involved partner” – perhaps you are controlled too much by what you see in movies or on social media.

You may also come to the conclusion that this empathic chameleon personality is simply who you are (now): someone who likes meeting new people, who is always looking for new ways to enrich himself, who is curious about , how someone else works and who likes to reinvent himself again and again. And that’s okay too. As long as you feel that you can be yourself, your contact with others will also be more pleasant and authentic.

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