You’ve had about 4 or 5 dates over the course of a month with someone you’re interested in. The person you’ve been seeing is nice, cool, attractive, and pretty much your type. They indicated they are looking for a relationship, and things seem to have been progressing normally. Now, however, Friday is here, and for the last several weeks, the two of you have coordinated something to do before the weekend hit. So, you text them to see if they are doing anything and ask if they’d like to check out a new spot. They decline with no explanation. “Not a big deal”, you think, but something about the interaction was awkward, not like the rest of your interactions. You let it go and randomly chat like you used to, but they aren’t responding much anymore. They take a day or more to respond, and when they do, it’s not engaging at all. By the second week of no dates, you figure they are moving on.
Even though you get the gist, sometimes it’s nice to get a clear answer, especially if it’s someone you’re interested in. At least, that’s what you think, so you point out the elephant and ask if something changed or if they just aren’t interested anymore. They respond with an equally direct response: “Do you want the truth?”
Keeping It Real
When confronted with a question like, “Do you want the truth?”, it’s a somewhat unfair question. Of course, you can say, “No, thanks. Keep it to yourself.” But something about the question makes it feel like there’s only one answer: “Yes, of course, I want the truth.” Then, when this person proceeds to tell you, “Ok, some people say they want the truth but don’t actually mean it” … brace yourself because they will likely proceed to tell you a series of things that judge you, some of which you may already feel self-conscious about. “Well, you are out of shape and overweight, talk too much and ramble, don’t initiate physical contact enough, and have a really big nose.”
“Wow,” you think to yourself. You don’t even know how to respond. In fact, you don’t respond. What are you supposed to do with that “truth”? “They can take that truth and….” Now that you are thinking about it, why did you want the truth anyway? Because you were curious? Because maybe you’d think about trying to be a better person? Because maybe there was a chance?
Imagine, instead of asking if you want the truth, they say that they aren’t looking for a relationship right now, or they’re too busy, or better yet, “It’s not you; it’s me.” These ‘nice’ answers, if taken seriously, could make you think, “Oh, that’s fine, I’m really busy too,” as if you could possibly date when things slow down or when they get themselves together. That’s not what they mean, of course. They were just trying to be nice, trying to let you down easy, and instead, never let you down at all.
It doesn’t seem very nice to lead someone on, to allow you to think there’s a chance when there isn’t one. Is being nice really for you? No, in many cases, it probably isn’t. Most likely, the person trying to ‘be nice’ is really wanting you to still like them, to still think they are cool, awesome people. So, instead of telling you their thoughts that you’d find issues with, they sugarcoat them but feed you poop.
The Opposing Perspectives
Some would say that keeping it real is important, that you should know why people say things so that you can learn, change, or grow. That is reasonable, yet there is a time and a place for everything. Someone you’ve dated for a month doesn’t have enough in the emotional bank account to make a withdrawal like that. It’s the equivalent of listening to an online troll. They may say something that is ‘true,’ but their context is off, their delivery is off, their point for saying it also is likely off. Being told you talk too much, for example, is not useful to anyone; it is also based on their own limited opinion.
As for being nice, some may feel that not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings is truly for the sake of the other person, that it’s important to shield them from unnecessary pain. Yet, that’s similar to saying that you should catch a child before they fall every time. That’s not nice, that’s debilitating. Catching a child when they fall every time is bound to create some issues of dependence and reliance. They won’t learn to catch themselves. There may be a time and a place, but it’s rare; and as with the keeping it real example, dating for a month is not one of them.
Self-Confidence, Then Self-Awareness
For those with weak self-confidence, strengthen it. People will think you are unattractive. There will be people who don’t like the way you talk, walk, or do anything for that matter. If you cannot accept that fact, build your self-confidence before dating *anyone*. There is no reason to date someone when you haven’t established yourself. Self-confidence is being ok with being wrong, unattractive, and not wanted because you are ok with yourself.
Once your self-confidence is solid, you need to build your self-awareness. This is having an understanding of what you are capable of and how that relates to everyone else. If you are overweight compared to everyone else, or don’t look like a model, or can’t play basketball, being aware is important to navigate life. You will know what you do or don’t want to focus on, change, improve upon, or leave alone. Also, since you built your self-confidence first, you are ok with yourself and are changing to achieve goals that are meaningful to you, not goals that are rife with confidence problems and other people’s opinions.
If you find yourself constantly worrying about other’s opinions, stop. Build your self-confidence. If you find yourself constantly dating people who don’t like or want you, stop. Build your self-awareness. Rinse, repeat.