Not Being Yourself

A list of the great dating blunders includes not being yourself.

Yes, I understand, this is a big blobby mess of a topic, but my job is to tidy up this stuff for you. Experience as a rotten dater comes in handy, so let me give this a shot.

After thoroughly road-testing this specific element of dating foolishness, we’ll divide it into two areas. First, the mind-set that gets us to the point of not being ourselves, the preparation for the mistake. Secondly, how we go about getting stuck in the bog of not being ourselves on a date, ie: how it presents {(as they say in medical circles. (At least on tv.)}

Why We Want To Not Be Ourselves:

Unless you are a psychopath you want to be liked. You and me, we are approval-seeking organisms, courting validation across the land. Especially in dating land. If you’re a witch, you want to find people who are either like you or read books about spells. If you like camping, you’ll find outdoor dreamers and discomfort-seekers to back up your world view. If being pretentious about food is our deal, we want to belong to Team Gastro so as to immerse ourselves in urchin roe and cod cheeks.

When, then, we go dating, our drive is to help along the process of complete strangers (our dates) being concordant with our our special universe-view. We’ll look for the tiniest vein of common ground amongst the entire open-cut mine of stuff we don’t have in common. I call it pretzeling our thinking to make it fit the other person. We make ourselves into someone we think the other person will like more than the actual you.

Right, that’s the pre-cursor.

How We Stop Being Ourselves and Become Someone Else:

Following on from stage one, here we are at our first date with this newbie. They’re roughly in the right zip code WRT compatibility, at first look, anyway. We begin to talk. It emerges that I support self-government for sardines. I spend a lot of time advocating a Free Sardinia as their homeland, and protest weekly against fish restaurants.

My date could care less about oily cold-water fish. But instead of me bravely defending my scaly friends, I agree that I can see us vacationing on Sicily, overlooking the ocean, drinking wine, supping on beautiful sardines caught that morning, grilled over an open flame, delicately flavoured with olive oil and fresh herbs.

So. In order to go along and be agreeable with my (hitherto unknown) companion, I am planning to dine on the one cause for which I fight. Okay, so she had legs up to here and was wearing stockings. It’s still not smart.

Me = active sardinist.

Dating me = wanting approval and to be liked.

Result = not being me at all on the date.

Upshot = giving date entirely incorrect impression.

Do Your Duty

I am allegedly one of the lucky ones. My models – aka parental units – created zero expectation around my life. It feels liberating now, and also empty. When you receive no guidance as to the possible choices, an immature person is cast adrift. And drifting through life is not as happy as it sounds.

I am talking here about relationships and how to fit yourself onto the coupling plane.

More usually, young people are given a few vague ideas. You know the kind of thing: marriage is work, but a good thing; children are gigantically rewarding but provide pain until you die; you’re gonna get hurt so learn to get over it.

This is life.

They are also generalizations. Some people should never be married. Some people should never have children. And a lot of people do more hurting than are hurt. That is life, and the sappy advice from parents (who probably know dick about it themselves) will not help you.

We all must find our own way, incurring the smallest harm on others in the process. Heeding foolish media-driven advice and ignoring your own mind can lead only to unhappiness…and to that of the people around you.

Field of Embarrassment

My dating history is an embarrassment of riches in the gaffe dept. A selection:

There was the time I repeatedly called a date by the wrong name. For two hours. (That didn’t last.)

I ran a bath in one girlfriend’s apartment one night that I forgot to turn off. Her place and the one below flooded.

A (as it turned out) highly-paid lawyer got the benefit of my Dummies-informed legal mind on a first date. She had sympathy for a while, but the damage was done.

And there was the unforgettable triumph of me ordering foie grasĀ  – for the first time mind – to find that I couldn’t stomach it. So much for sophistication. She laughed out loud at me.

The lessons are clear: order food you know and like, watch a running tub, write down and practice saying your date’s name, and for heaven’s sake, be yourself.

First Dates

First dates assume an importance beyond their value, in my opinion. I am the same, by the way, not immune to the fear of being judged inadequate or worse…unattractive. Ugh.

Here are some useful links from among the many that are not: let me know what you think.

Kimberly Ferguson (a young mature dater) with clear advice.

Yes! Think differently about the questions you ask.

Kinda science, but not really. Interesting nonetheless.