There’s a certain mental innocence we maintain at the beginning – every beginning, all the beginnings, but especially with love. You find someone who is attractive and nice and just different enough to be interesting; you’re going to go on a date and of course, you’re nervous.
But you’re wiping the slate clean. You’re reinventing your idea of yourself, gently molding it to the bits and pieces you know of this person, and you’re presenting it with vigor.
If you haven’t been betrayed a lot, you’ll be hoping it could turn into something more – something lasting. If you have been betrayed a lot, you’ll be more guarded – but perhaps somewhere, there’s that secret hope that this is the person that you can share your real self with. That’s always the dream: that the illusion will make way for the reality, and the reality will be unconditional acceptance of the person you aren’t really showing them you are. Yet.
It’s as though we go into “dating mode” – creating those slight misrepresentations about who we are. Innocently. With the best intention. With hopefulness and a bit of naivety. We all do those superficial things we do to make ourselves more attractive like the nice heels or the makeup or that well-fitted shirt or the nice fragrance (or the complete opposite depending on what you think other people will/should be attracted to). But this is a bit more.
Often it’s not just cosmetic. Often we do more than try to be a bit more attractive. What I’m referring to are the things we do or say that actually misrepresent who we are, however innocently we perceive our transgressions to be at first.
Do you play hard to get when you just want to tell them they’re hot? Do you like to act mysterious instead of telling them about your minimum wage job? Do you tell them you’re “adventurous” when actually you love your day-to-day routine? Do you try and seem aloof or cool or important? Do you hide your love of amazing Bengal cats? Or do you impose rules on yourself in spite of your feelings – like never calling them first?
It’s this misrepresentation of yourself that really hinders the building of a relationship. Some people call it being a good player. Some say it’s necessary in today’s dating world. But more often than not, it will be those games that mean your dates don’t turn into relationships.
Aren’t you tired of using your time and energy on these falsities? More and more people are. And that’s a wonderful thing because put very simply, the underlying thought processes behind doing these things is that you don’t think you’ll be loved just by being yourself. With varying levels of awareness, you think that you need to do (or actually be) something different in order to be attractive to the person you find attractive.
Issues of self-esteem aside, trying to develop a relationship based on misrepresentations is never going to work if you want intimacy. Think of it this way: on one hand you really want someone to love you, on the other you’re not allowing them to by hiding the real you.
The analogy I use is that it’s like trying to build a house on a massive block of Swiss cheese. The cheese is you and the holes represent those parts of you that you don’t like and/or want to hide. If you try and build a house with someone on the cheese and you don’t let them see the holes, the house is destined to crumble. But, if you’re open about your natural, riddled-with-holes Swissiness then you and your partner can start to build a house on stronger foundations.
I’m not suggesting that you expose them to all your holes at once (cringe) – I’m just saying that if your misrepresenting who you are, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you want emotional intimacy.
I know you might be afraid that people will run screaming when they see the true shape of your Swissiness, and I’ll be honest that’s a risk. But one thing is for sure – you’re never going to have that intimate bond with someone unless you’re willing to discover your true shape and be open about it.
Lastly, if you’re worried that people may not be able to handle someone who’s open about their imperfections (keep in mind that perfect Swiss cheese has holes) and they’ll go running simply because they’re not used to someone being open, that’s fine too. That’s just a sign that they’re not willing to share their Swissiness with you – the other key ingredient to that intimacy we crave.