Rewind my life seven years or so and you’d find an almost-unrecognisable girl.
I didn’t drink, as a rule (though rules are, and were in this case, made to be broken), and I practiced Reiki while I wore Birkenstocks and read non-mainstream, naval-gazing spiritual books about the afterlife.
I was probably a step or two away from trying to contact a mothership somewhere.
A few years before that and I was listening to gangsta rap and drinking five coffees a day while waitressing double shifts in the restaurant where my chef boyfriend worked.
You see, I used to be a relationship chameleon. That strange breed of person who changes their tastes and lifestyle based on the person they’re with.
Like pouring water into a vessel, I would take on the shape of whoever I was dating at the time. They liked science-fiction movies? I could learn to like science-fiction movies.
Into transcendental meditation? Sure, I suppose I could do that, despite having the attention span of a breadcrumb. Yay for transcendental meditation. What better way to spend all our weekends?
I know, it sounds stupid even to me – a self-confessed serial chameleon.
In my defence, I was young and impressionable, and still finding my way in life. I also happen to be a very easy-going person, which doesn’t help when it comes to chameleon-ism.
Having been in long-term relationships since high school, I hadn’t given myself a chance to find out what I liked without someone else influencing me.
Of course, it’s not just me that’s afflicted.
I went on a date once with a guy who assured me he “loved Japanese food”.
It transpired over the kingfish sashimi that he’d never in fact been to a Japanese restaurant and didn’t dig any of the fish offered on our shared entrée platter.
Do we lie to appear more similar? To impress our potential mate?
A stint of singledom did me well – and now, I am very clear about what I do and do not like. I also have a feeling it’s a maturity that comes with getting older.
Variety is the spice of life, after all, and having two identical individuals in a relationship does not a happy couple make.
Whether it’s antiquing, fishing or a sudden new love of death metal, everyone knows someone who’s a tad persuasive when it comes to their love interests.
My friend Y was never a vegetarian until she started dating one.
Six years on, their relationship is over but her diet remains meat-free. Almost all her friends asked if she was “still vegetarian” after the break up. She is. And plans to continue that diet and lifestyle regardless.
Which just goes to show, there is a difference between adopting a new fake persona and having your eyes opened to something new that resonates with you.
Many people discover new hobbies or sports or music tastes they didn’t even know they had through their partners and flings. Sharing these things is fantastic – just be sure that you genuinely like whatever it is before throwing yourself headfirst into it, and don’t change yourself to impress someone new.