Chris Rock has a very funny comedy show in which he accuses women of being more deceptive than men because women wear heels (“you ain’t that tall!”), weave (“your hair ain’t that long!”), or wear padded bras (“your boobs ain’t that big!”). While men can’t really get away with wearing Prince boots or hair pieces, there are other ways for them to be disingenuous about who they really are. For either sex, I call it sending out your “representative.”
I think *sometimes* when we meet people with dating potential, we don’t really meet them – we meet their representative. The representative can be neat, organized, laughs at your jokes, on-time. If a man’s representative is smart and on top of his game, the representative opens the car door, pumps the gas, makes it known that chivalry is not dead. A woman’s representative may cook (at all or more often), be more agreeable, work out more. Then again, there may not be a huge difference between the representative and the real person, but to some extent we’re all guilty of putting our “best foot forward” whether it’s on a job interview or a date. While so many people (YES, men and women!) are in such a rush to “couple up”, I think that being open to discovering all the positive and negative things about someone you’re dating, or considering dating, is key.
Over time, the “representative” leaves the building — and the real person takes over. Over time, things get down to the nitty-gritty. Existing habits are exposed. Default character settings reveal themselves. (For example: if you fight dirty with name-calling, cussing, and yelling, this will come to light when the representative leaves the building.) Again, there may not be huge differences between the person’s “best foot forward” version and their actual self. But how would you know unless you take a proper period of time to know, to observe, and to listen to that person?
Some of my friends whose marriages resulted in divorce all say the same thing: that they did not really “know” their husband or wife as a person. They recall how they did not take the time to really understand how each of them handled their own individual financial decisions, familial relationships, or religious choices. Not having sufficiently discussed these things prior to “coupling up” resulted to what turned out to be insurmountable problems down the road. It doesn’t always end up in divorce, though. Kudos to the people who stick it out, tackle the issues, communicate, compromise and resolve, and then move on to happier days.
More accurately, however, I’m pretty sure that my divorced friends or their former spouses did know how the other really was. They just thought the other person would change, or they just ignored what they knew to be true just to be with that person. The representative is not natural. If you just slow down and listen to what a person says and compare that to what they do, you’ll know if you’re dealing with the representative. I trust what is said, and believe what is done.
I’m often asked by my married and single friends (or their friends) or men I’ve dated, “Don’t you want to get married?” My answer is always the same – I don’t want to get married; I want to stay married. What that means is that I want to take the time to really get to know a person, so that the representative is a distant memory, a memory firmly replaced by the person they really are – the person I would be happy to be with.
So, to all the people who are in such a hurry to be “in a relationship”, get married, be “off the market” or to hook up your single friends — please pay attention and get to know the real person, even if the “real person” ends up being not so different from the inevitable representative that you meet initially. 🙂
Content and ideas copyright Samee on Everything (2009).