How to Stop Performing in relationships? (romantic and non-romantic)

Charlie’s Toolbox
5 min readAug 27, 2021


As heard on Ep. 23 of Charlie’s Toolbox Podcasts


So, some updates…. I uploaded a new episode on my Patreon about what I learned about communication from my parents. Unfortunately, they weren’t the best communicators and life forced me to unlearn a lot of lessons. I love this platform because I can be as intimate as I want to be. I love that this community chooses me and that is really liberating.

Song of the Week

The song of the week that has moved me is by Congolese artist Franco & le T.P. OK Jazz. The song is called Ngai Tembe Elek. I heard it on a video posted by Ms. Tina where Beyoncé was taking photos for Vogue magazine. I love the feel of the song. It makes me feel sexy, loved, romantic, and really pleased with myself. So, enjoy and report back.

So, let’s get into the topic.

I sort of grew up with the notion that you can escape the pain. Unfortunately, my parents did not have the tools to deal with painful situations. So, whenever pain or heartbreak showed up, I’d do what I knew best and I found easy but unhealthy ways to self-soothe.

One thing I would do is make the pain and hurt proof of my incorrectness, wrongness, or badness. So, when something came up that caused me great pain, it wasn’t just the essence of life, incompatibility, or a set of circumstances that I could work through. Instead, I believed there was something in me that created these circumstances. Or I believed that my innateness is what caused me to be treated like this. If you know anything about labeling yourself or seeing yourself as bad, incorrect, not good, or not good enough. You know that it inspires a whole lot of actions that are never really good for you.

And you end up doing really harmful things like…

# 1. looking for validation in others

When you believe in your heart that you are inherently incorrect, you make anyone a compass-
Meaning you latch on to anyone who will guide you back to being good again. More commonly, you latch onto people who tell you what you are and make you feel like you are worth something.

Sometimes the compass is your parents. And you allow them to guide you by dictating your life and telling you who you are because you are afraid you can’t do it or you will screw it up. Sometimes your parents are the ones that made you aware of your incorrectness. So, you turn away from them. Sometimes you find your compass in your friends. And Your friends are more likely to help you figure out who you are and help you believe that you are more than just bad or not good enough. Sometimes they don’t guide you to you and only blur your vision. Sometimes your partners miss when it comes to guiding you back to you. Often, they remind you that you are incorrect as you are and sometimes they go so far as to give you even more reasons why you are incorrect.

And when you are told you are incorrect by those closest to you, and when you have not cultivated the skill to validate and be yourself, you do a very natural thing.

You hide for fear of being hurt. Or you split yourself in two and seek validation from others.

When you hide, you disconnect from society slowly and enjoy the company of yourself. You may not show it, but you are sad about not being seen. Some folks internalize it as a social problem and not your problem. Some folks internalize it as their problem and cut themselves out from the world.

On the other hand, when you split yourself in two, you hide your true self and create a chameleon-like identity as your representative. The chameleon or representative is a performer. She is agreeable with everyone. She is what everyone needs. She changes herself for everyone. They need a listening ear she can be that. Her prospects mention they want a stay-at-home wife she shows him by cooking. Her parents tell her she should be doing better, she applies to law school despite not wanting to be a lawyer. She listens acutely to others so that she can be what they need.

The problem with both strategies, i.e. being alone and splitting yourself in two, is that ultimately you still feel bad and you never allow yourself the freedom to be you- which is outrageous because you have the permission to be you at any time, and yet you are denying it.

The person who escapes society to hide in their world feels alone because no one is there. The person who splits themselves in two feels bad because despite having people around, no one knows the real you and you are doing extremely tiring work to make sure that they don’t.

You are suffering, but to you, this form of suffering (being alone and splitting yourself in two) is more bearable than being you, being ok with that person, and enjoying the moment with a person who likes you.

As someone who has performed for most of her life, those choices, those band-aids for pain, are not worth it. The men you date, who w do not see you, and still, you date them is not worth it. The friends you have who you change to keep around are not worth it. The identity you construct every time you meet a new person is not worth it. Pulling away from the world is not worth it. After decades of not being yourself, the work you have to do to be yourself is not worth it. Responding to pain like this costs way too much. Especially, when being you is free and freeing.

And on that note!
Take care!



Charlie’s Toolbox

Think less about men and more about yourself! @charliestoolbox on Twitter and IG <<<Charlie’s Toolbox Podcast on Itunes and Spotify>>>