I used to think that I was too small and not good-looking enough to get someone to go on a date with me. Spending hours in front of the mirror, it was easy for me to critique my body and personality. I would never find anyone because what I had to offer wasn’t impressive enough.
So my friends and I tried our best to create the catchiest profiles on Tinder and Ok Cupid, and even staged the most flattering selfies. You know, the ones that toe the line between sexy and personable. My right side was my best side, I had decided. I told the truth about myself, but may have used some hyperbole here and there to beef up my desirability factor.
After all, what I craved most was to cuddle on the couch and watch a fire with someone who loved me. So I worked very methodically to craft a pristine profile that could snag the perfect someone.
You see, I used to believe that I had to earn my value. I ran every day to keep my love handles at a concealable size, kept my Spanish polished, and memorized the latest Sia track.
My online profile was in tip-top shape, just like my mid-section.
But no matter how hard I tried to make online dating work, I couldn’t figure out why the heck it was so exhausting. There was something depleting gnawing at my soul.
It finally dawned on me. I was relying on an appealing profile more than my God-given personhood. Trying so desperately to protect the parts of my life characterized by a hyperbole, I would enter dates like an Olympian prepared for the world to watch my performance.
Shockingly, I realized that I had trapped myself into being a performer. I approached dating like a defense lawyer who needed to provide evidence that my life and character were in the same shape as my profile.
Instead of getting closer to that romantic fire, I was creating a wildfire. And it was destroying my relational and emotional landscape. I began to feel like nothing more than an empty-handed fraud. Instead of being confident in my relational esteem, I felt powerless and valueless.
Since then, I have learned three important tips that will help your dating efforts produce better results.
1. When we enter dating with a dashing performance we are going to end up in Resentment Land.
After performing for so long, we hear screaming from within: “I’m giving you one impressive show, why aren’t you falling for it?” With disappointment already influencing the budding relationship, we become angry that we aren’t impressive enough. It’s easy, then, to resent our dates, precisely because their lack of interest feels like rejection. But they aren’t rejecting our authentic selves, they’re rejecting the very crafted, perfectly plotted self we wanted them to see. And this is where #2 comes in handy.
2. When we enter a relationship from behind a pristine façade we’re essentially limiting our ability to bond.
On the first several dates, many of us make sure we mention our impressive jobs or show off with grandstanding humor, manicured bodies, or fluttering eyelashes. Saying ‘ta da’ with our behaviors, we hope to impress our audience of one. But when someone only has the option to connect to your façade, relational intimacy can only go as deep as your façade is thin.
So if you’re looking to really bond with Mr. or Ms. Perfect, practice being your authentic self.
Remember, when you connect to someone from behind a fabricated façade the only version of you that can be truly loved is the fabricated one. So give yourself the gift of letting someone fall in love with you, not your facade.
3. The power of love can only feed off of our authenticity.
When someone falls in love with you because of who you are – healthy and unhealthy, stable and broken, put together and falling apart- you are forever liberated to be yourself. The richness of this type of love not only creates a sustainable relationship, but also a new and valuable self-understanding.
So the next time you take another stab at creating that love fire with tinder, make sure it’s authentic. Set the facades on the flames and let them burn. Don’t let your insecurities trap you into performing. That will only lead to a devastating wildfire that will consume your joy and sincerity. Instead root yourself in your truest beauty — the honest self. Let authenticity fuel the romantic fire.
Originally published on November 16, 2016.