It seems that we have this idea that we must present ourselves a certain way in order to get attention.
So we do, and it actually works. It doesn’t matter that it may not be a very accurate portrayal of who we really are — we say we’ll get to that later. So we spend time getting to know a person, and trying to pretend to be calm, when we’re not, or trying to seem super invested super-fast, when we may not be. We do whatever it is we want to do. We flirt, we go on dates, we sleep together. And once we are done, we feel the need to make up a reason. We say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” and, “I’m just not looking for a commitment right now.” When what we actually mean is “I’m just not really feeing this with you.” So we tell little white lies that spare feelings, and we swallow them whole despite tasting the bitterness that it’s just not true.
Because we want to spare feelings and we want to feel better about ourselves. We say that being vague and making up reasons is just how this has to go, it’s the way life works. And we don’t look back.
We don’t pay any mind to the idea of the girl who went home wondering why she wasn’t good enough, or the guy who thought he was doing everything right who now thinks he totally blew it. We don’t think about how we stick in people’s memories in fragments — in sentences missing key words that cause them to relentlessly fill in a blank with no word bank and no basis to go off of.
And frankly, it just gets exhausting.
Sometimes, we aren’t so selfless in our reasons for withholding honesty. Sometimes we just don’t want to be responsible for hurting another person, or we don’t want to deal with the consequences. We would rather tell half-truths and spare a few potentially awkward moments with a person rather than do the thing that would just make things better in the long run. Because when we are honest about the things we want, what we hope to get out of a relationship, or what went wrong, we are bringing ourselves and others one step closer to getting this whole dating thing right.
So why are we like this?
If honesty really is so easy and could fix so much, why do we pick half-truths and ghosting, vague excuses and pretty lies?
Because we tend to care about ourselves and what benefits us best rather than others. And maybe that’s the whole problem.
Maybe we should take a step back and realize if all we are caring about is ourselves and what will happen to us, then we shouldn’t be getting involved with another person in the first place. Maybe we should take into account that an entire other person is here too, and they have a right to have someone be honest with them. That maybe being honest won’t always feel good, but it does the most possible good out of anything else we could say.
We forget that honesty may hurt, yes, but it also eases the pain long term. Honesty can sometimes feel like a slap in the face, but once the sting wears off, you manage to forget. Yet when we feed people lies, they stay in the system for longer than we’d ever intend. We not only leave them with questions, but we leave them to figure them out alone, which takes twice as long as one conversation between two people ever would.
Some people are looking for long term commitment, others just a person for the night. Some want an emotional connection, others want friendship with flirtatious interactions, some simply want sex. This isn’t about which one of these is “right” because in the end, every person on the planet wants something different and will go by any means to get it. When we are honest up front about what we are looking for, we stop becoming attached to the people that want something different. It may mean we have to look a little harder, but isn’t that better? To know what the person you want is on the same page?
When we are honest with what went wrong in the exchange, we help just as much. Because how do we ever learn to be better if we never know why it all went downhill? How do we grow without hearing what could have been better? When we stop being honest, we leave people wondering about questions we refuse to give answers to instead of letting them use that time to decide what their next step is. For some, they will not change anything and look for someone more compatible. Others will take a look at themselves and recognize things that can be improved.
Yet regardless, the truth gives people a chance to decide what they need to do, instead of keeping them hung up on what they could’ve done to keep whatever you two had alive.
So maybe now, right now, we can make a decision to be more honest in our relationships. Maybe, we can actually do something to make this whole dating/almost dating/not dating thing a little easier. Wouldn’t that be something?