When we counsel our clients to hold back certain private, intimate information about themselves (or aspects of their personalities) at the beginning of a potential relationship, we often hear, "But I want someone to love me for who I am!"
We also want someone to love you for who you are. We never support lying or hiding important information throughout the dating process.
What we encourage is being selective in which aspects of your authentic self you show to whom, and when.
Here is the thing: Not everyone deserves to know everything about you.
Many people who have had traumatic events in their lives feel a pressure to put certain information on the table right away when they meet someone new. People tend to do this because these details have caused others to end relationships in the past and no one wants to get involved in a good relationship just to have it end. However, we generally find that once a person gets to know you, they are often less scared off by how those things may affect you now or in your future together.
They are better able to assimilate the information in the context of the great things they have gotten
to know about you.
Let’s explore an example. Imagine your phone rings and when you answer it, you hear, "I would like to introduce you to someone. He was abused by his drug addicted father, neglected by his alcoholic mother and spent a few years doing bad things when he was a teenager. When can I have him call you?"
If you would accept this date without asking any other questions, you are a fool. Most healthy people
would decline the suggestion on the spot.
However, let’s say the same person called you and instead said, "I know an amazing young man that I'd like you to meet. I have known him for years, as has my husband. He has a great personality. He is very positive and motivated and grateful for every day he is here to help people. He founded and runs a non-profit organization to help children from dysfunctional homes beat the odds. He is well educated, well spoken, in touch with who he is and working on becoming who he wants to be. He is a solid guy who has tremendous potential for you. I have already told him about you and he is interested in meeting
you." What would you say then?
And let's say you go out on a date and are attracted to each other. Another date or two and there is definitely some interest on both sides. You realize how much you have in common: what you want for your future, how you want to live your lives, your morals and values,- even your thoughts on money and children.
While planning the fourth date, he tells you to wear something very comfortable. He takes you to a run-down playground.
He has packed some drinks and a nice lunch. He spreads out a blanket, makes sure you are comfortable and then says to you, "I brought you here because I feel we have started to get to know each other quite well and I wanted to share something with you. This is a very special place to me. When I was a young boy, this was my thinking spot. When things would get bad at home, I would come here and watch the other families. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I'm going to be one of those dads one day. I'm going to take my kids to the park and play with them and love them and make sure they always feel safe... " And then he tells you about life at home with his parents when he was a child.
Now, you know more of his full story. This is part of what makes him who he is. This part of his story is a piece of the whole person you are starting to fall for.
And, most importantly, who you are starting to fall for is a healthy person who has used their disadvantages to build something successful and wonderful in this world.
He wasn't hiding or lying to you on the first few dates. He was deciding if you were worthy of being allowed
into a closer circle of his.
And so too, with your “stuff”.
Don't ever lie or mislead. But you also don't have to share everything that is potentially challenging about you before the waiter comes to take your order on your first date!
Take some time to determine if the person you are with deserves to know you deeper. (Sharing a dinner doesn’t require you to sign over the rights to the movie of your life!) Being authentic doesn't mean you always have to share everything, all at once.
You have many different parts of your authentic self.
For the first couple of dates, choose to accentuate the fun, relaxed, polite, kind, confident parts of yourself. Once the person gets to know your positives better, they will have a more balanced perspective from which to get to know the more personal parts of you that may provoke an additional consideration.
Timing what you reveal and when will help your dating partner have more balanced, meaningful thoughts about you and your relationship.
If you need help with this, feel free to schedule a session or a shidduch schmooze by following the “Scheduling” link at www.BetterShidduchim.com.