My girlfriend always pretended to be happy. One day, I couldn’t take it anymore.

Before my girlfriend and I moved to the bustling city of Los Angeles, we lived in a small Midwestern town. A place where everyone knew each other, the air was crisp, and life moved at a slower pace. Our lives were woven into the fabric of this close-knit community and it felt comfortable, almost idyllic.

In contrast, Los Angeles was like an entirely different planet. The city was alive with vibrant colors, diverse people, and endless opportunities. It was an exciting new chapter for us. Or so I thought.

My girlfriend, whom I’ll call Lily to protect her privacy, was always an effervescent soul. She radiated positivity and her laughter was contagious. However, after our move, I noticed a subtle shift in her demeanor. She would flash me her signature smile, but it didn’t reach her eyes anymore.

At first, I attributed it to the stress of moving and adjusting to a new city. But as days turned into months, Lily’s cheerful facade remained unchanged. Her happiness felt forced.

Yet, everyone around us seemed to believe in Lily’s perpetual happiness. They admired her resilience and how she always appeared cheerful despite the challenges of our new life. It was as if they were seeing a different person than I was.

One day, however, I couldn’t bear it anymore. The constant pretense of happiness was taking a toll on both of us. That morning, over a cup of coffee with the Hollywood Hills as our backdrop, I decided to confront Lily about her persistent facade of joy.

This is when the veneer started to crack and we embarked on a journey that unfolded the reality behind her perpetual happiness and how confronting it transformed our relationship in ways we never imagined before.

Living with someone who constantly pretended to be happy while silently battling their inner turmoil was unlike any experience I ever had. Here’s my account of what it’s like to love someone who’s smiling on the outside but struggling on the inside.

Confronting the perpetual facade of happiness

That morning, I remember feeling a sense of unease as I broached the subject with Lily. I was careful with my words; I didn’t want to sound accusing or dismissive of her feelings. “Lily,” I began, “I’ve noticed that you’re always smiling, always pretending to be happy. But I feel like something is off, like you’re not really happy. Am I wrong?”

She looked taken aback for a moment, her cheerful facade faltering slightly. It was clear that she hadn’t anticipated this conversation. There was a pause, a moment of silence that felt like an eternity.

Then, she sighed and nodded. “You’re not wrong,” she admitted. Her eyes welled up with tears as she confessed how she’d been struggling with her feelings and how difficult it had been to put on a brave face every day.

It was a heart-wrenching moment. But it also felt like a breakthrough. We were finally addressing the elephant in the room. And while it was a tough discussion, it was also the beginning of our journey towards understanding and healing.

Challenging the notion of perpetual happiness

As I looked at Lily that morning, I realized how society often pressures us to maintain a facade of constant joy. We’re expected to put on a brave face, to be resilient and strong, regardless of what we’re going through internally. This expectation creates an illusion that everyone is perpetually happy, which simply isn’t true.

Living with Lily made me realize that this constant strive for happiness can sometimes be a hindrance. It can make it hard for people to accept their feelings and deal with their struggles. Lily was a prime example of this. She felt the need to hide her pain behind a smile, thinking it would make things easier for both her and me.

But here’s the thing — it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to have bad days and feel down. When we acknowledge our feelings, we give ourselves permission to experience them fully and move through them instead of around them.

Our experience challenged the widely-held belief that one needs to be constantly happy. It underscored the importance of being honest about our feelings, not just with others but more importantly, with ourselves.

Embracing emotional honesty

Once we acknowledged the problem, Lily and I decided to address it together. The first step was to create a safe space where we could express our feelings freely without fear of judgement or criticism. We encouraged each other to be open about our emotions, even the ones that were difficult to admit.

We started having regular ‘check-in’ conversations where we would discuss our feelings, our struggles, and our triumphs. These conversations weren’t always easy, but they were necessary. They allowed us to understand each other better and provided a platform for emotional honesty.

If you’re facing something similar in your relationship, I encourage you to do the same. Create an environment where feelings can be expressed openly. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but over time, it will lead to a deeper understanding and connection.

Stepping back and reclaiming personal power

In the midst of our struggle with Lily’s persistent facade of happiness, I learned some invaluable life lessons. These lessons not only helped us navigate through our situation, but also empowered me to approach life with a more holistic perspective.

The first lesson was about taking responsibility. While it was not my fault that Lily felt the need to pretend to be happy, I took responsibility for creating an environment in our relationship where she felt safe to express her true feelings. This act of taking responsibility increased my personal power and changed my mindset.

Secondly, I learned to think for myself. Much of what we believe is normal or expected is often based on societal expectations or cultural programming. When I identified this, I began to live life on my terms and not based on what others expected of me.

Here’s what we did:

  • Acknowledged our dissatisfaction with the constant pretense of happiness.
  • Faced the reality of our situation instead of masking it with blind positivity.
  • Understood the external influences and societal conditioning that had led us here.
  • Pursued our own ambitions and desires, rather than adhering to externally imposed ones.
  • Sought self-empowerment by breaking free from societal expectations.

I found that embracing these lessons led to personal growth that went beyond just helping Lily. It reshaped my reality and allowed me to live a more authentic life.

One video I recommend is the one below by Justin Brown on how to be happy. He shares some more honest advice about why we shouldn’t fake happiness and why happiness comes not from trying to be happy but from living a meaningful life.

Austin Pranger

Austin Pranger

Hi. (: I’m Austin. I’m documenting my journey of life through mastering and teaching West Coast Swing, developing a local swing community, becoming minimalist, writing, and optimizing life.

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