Being honest can feel counterintuitive when you really want the best start to a potential relationship. Even if you’re an honest person by nature, our natural tendency to be “nice” and to show interest even when we don’t really feel interested, can override our desire to be authentic. You might not even realise you’re being less than frank until you reflect on it afterwards, and that’s why you need to actively choose honesty as a personal policy. The danger you face by prioritising pleasantness over plain-speak is sacrificing your opportunity to show the real you.
Presumably you know a little bit about your date, and vice versa. You have some things in common, or at least share a few goals and interests, so now the aim is to establish yourself as a good, decent and worthy person in the eyes of your potential partner. In this way, it’s very similar to proving yourself in a new job – you say ‘yes’ a lot, you smile way more than you normally do, and your enthusiasm level is on 11. It’s quite a departure to how we might behave if we weren’t so eager to please. At the end of each working day, after all, we get to go home and act completely as ourselves once more. So you’ve got to ask yourself if you want to find a good romantic match for your new-job-personality, or your authentic, end-of-the-day personality.
It’s okay to disagree
A pleaser-type personality will show interest in things they normally dislike, and downplay the parts of themselves they perceive to be less desirable. It’s an easy way to avoid conflict, but it’s also an easy way to obscure your true self. If you’ve shown interest in a conversation about rugby/netball/politics/global finance and you don’t give a damn about any of them, two things will happen. You’ll become resentful and bored the next time it’s brought up, and you’ll create confusion in your date because they were so sure you were both on the same page. What’s the harm in saying up front, ‘I’ve never been interested in that topic’? Or even good-naturedly making fun of the subject? A little bit of confrontation, if kept light and impersonal, can really show your passion and spark a terrific conversation. If it’s a sore point or an issue you can’t move past, then at least you can evaluate your future together nice and early.
Acknowledge your flaws
Another important step is acknowledging that you are a flawed person, as we all are, and deciding that you’re okay with that. There’s something awfully empowering about saying out loud, to someone we really like, ‘I’m a terrible speller/organiser/housekeeper and I lose my temper/lose my belongings/lose my money too easily’. Not only are you showing your willingness to be judged by your weaknesses, but you’re also showing a level of vulnerability and trust that can be tremendously appealing.
Evaluate your date honestly
You don’t have to put on a front in order to impress a potential partner. By being yourself, you can go right to the crux of the matter – are you a good match? Do you enjoy each other’s company? Do you share similar goals? This can be the most difficult thing for someone lacking confidence to conquer, but a little bit of soul-searching and a few affirmations can teach you how to recognise when you’re being less than genuine, and how to not compromise on the things that mean the most to you.
You’re looking for a commitment, someone who values you for your best traits, and accepts your less-good ones as well. So why wouldn’t you put your most authentic self forward if the inevitability is that it will come out eventually regardless? By adopting the honestly policy, you can also reasonably expect the same consideration in return. Don’t be afraid to ask about your date’s likes and dislikes. Explore their interests and their strengths, as well as their flaws, and be open to the answers. Both of you will be hoping you put your best selves forward, but it’s only when you stop censoring yourselves that you’ll take it to the next exciting level.