The Dangers of Authenticity
When I have surveyed people about what they think it means to be authentic in the dating world, they all basically say, in some variation, “It means to be your true self.” Meaning, say what you want to say, be who you want to be, feel how you want to feel so someone can get to know the real you. That’s a good place to start, however there are other things to consider when deciphering how, when or even to what level being authentic is appropriate. Information is an aspect of power…be kind with it! These principles I am talking about below, apply only for the "dating" phase of a relationship. Obviously, the more you get to know someone, the more important it is to be the FULL version of yourself. But in the beginning, just use a little more caution...and here is why:
#1: Consider the Other Person
As you are getting to know someone, YOU HAVE NO IDEA where their sensitivities exist. We all have baggage and can get triggered by all different kinds of things, so the goal here is, is to care about how you affect the other person sitting in front of you. I'm not saying you shouldn't be honest and authentic with who you are, but in the beginning, consider filtering more, until you know more about the other person. For example, if you are on a date and the topic of religion comes up and you learn they are a devout Catholic, is it kind for you to start expressing your truest, negative beliefs about religion? You could come across as quite offensive. Instead, you could have a conversation around the topic and ask questions like, "I've never really understood religion nor been attracted to it. Tell me, out of all the religions out there, how come you chose Catholicism? How does being Catholic help you through your day?"
It is a kind act to consider what and how you express your opinions and what affect it has on your date. I’m not saying to be inauthentic or to lie. I am saying, reveal a portion of your truth in a respectful way vs. releasing the entire version of your thoughts and beliefs without regard to your date. Let time reveal to you, whether or not they have the skill set, internal strength and emotional stability to receive the most authentic version of yourself. Do they act interested and curious to learn more or do they respond with judgment, defensiveness, criticism or hurt? Baby steps!
#2 Consider Yourself
Allowing time for trust and safety to be built is not only for the sake of the other person, but also for you. Your vulnerability, your beliefs, your opinions and your story, are unique and special. You deserve to be valued and protected. If you open up and expose your deepest nature to someone you hardly know, you are taking a risk at exposing yourself to someone who can be very unkind with what they learn about you. I once worked with a client who exposed his deepest thoughts about politics on the 3rd date, only to see a post on Facebook the next day with the woman claiming he was “crazy and needed to grow up.” Ouch!
This is one of the main reasons why I coach people on taking things VERY slow, even though the chemistry might be flying high! How do you know the person in front of you is safe and kind in handling the deeper. more personal parts of who you are? It takes time to see someone in all kinds of situations to know how they think, feel and respond to various opinions.
Information is power; use it wisely. Be kind to your date by considering how you might affect them with what you say. Be kind to yourself by protecting your truest thoughts and feelings, until you know your date will be kind, curious and respectful with that information.
Any thoughts or questions are always appreciated! Leave them in the comments box below.