Before my first official date with my now boyfriend, I didn't really remember what he looked like, to be quite honest.
I had met him a few days earlier at a bar, and there were even pictures of us together, but he was wearing sunglasses and a hat in the pictures, so I didn't REALLY know what he would look like in normal people clothes.
Not to mention the obvious fact that we were at a bar, and it was my birthday weekend, so my memory of that weekend is a little fuzzy.
Anyway, when our date finally rolled around, I was starting to get a little worried about the execution of this whole "identifying him" thing.
I had a few choices here:
I could freak out and leave (coward). I could make up some weird excuse as to why I needed to know exactly what he was wearing (liar). I could be honest about why I needed to know what he was wearing and profusely apologize for not remembering him (pathetic). OR I could be honest and just laugh at myself for having forgotten his face (the choice I went with).
He laughed, too, waved his hand so I could recognize him and admitted he also had a hard time remembering exactly what my face looked like after our initial encounter.
My sense of humor saved me in that moment, and as our relationship progressed, it has continued to save me a million more times.
Falling in love is a scary, vulnerable process, and given the high stakes, I would go so far as to say it's almost impossible to do if you can't laugh at yourself.
You see, before you love someone, you like them. And with liking them comes the painfully awkward urge to make them like you back.
But as anyone with any sort of social awareness has come to realize, trying to make someone like you never really works out.
It's awkward, uncomfortable and, more than anything else, it's never authentic. In fact, I'd say the “best” version of yourself you're trying to put out there doesn't even come close to the awesome person you actually are.
Nevertheless, it's still human nature. It's what we do. We approach new people we like with these walls we built to protect ourselves from getting rejected and slowly let those walls come down — brick by brick — as we get more comfortable.
But because nothing happens perfectly, at some point in the falling in love process, we inevitably mess up and accidentally let one (or several) of those bricks fall out of the wall before we're ready.
This happens when you accidentally send him the the screenshot of your conversation with him that you meant to send your best friend. Or when you accidentally blurt out “I love you.” Or when you drunkenly tell him your childhood dream was only to wear cheetah print and travel strictly by dolphin. Or when you're showing him something on your phone, and he sees the 37 pictures from his Facebook profile you saved, along with the text from your mom asking how the date's going.
You get the picture here. Sometimes, you lose your cool and show him your weird.
For some people like myself, these moments will come sooner rather than later. But rest assured, no matter what the timing is, this moment will come, and it will be embarrassing. In fact, it could very well be impossible to recover from if you don't have a strong sense of humor about yourself.
Let's take one of those examples and really roll with it.
Maybe he saw all the pictures of him you had saved on your phone. Frankly, that's mortifying, and I don't blame you for being embarrassed.
You could let that embarrassment get the best of you and run away crying. But if you choose this, I have some tough news for you: If you run away every time it happens, you're never going to really find love.
Why? Well, every relationship you have is going to have some embarrassing speed bumps like this.
Another option is to make up a lie on the spot to cover up for it. On the off chance that your lie doesn't come off as completely absurd, you're also setting this weird precedent that lying to your partner is OK.
I hate to break it to you, but true love isn't founded on a bed of lies.
The next slightly better option is to own up to it, but defensively. So you start going on and on about why it's not that weird, how he probably saves pictures too and it's not a big deal.
Sure, you told the truth. Sure, you stuck around. But are you really going to try to justify every single embarrassing thing you do? That sounds exhausting for you and slightly annoying for your partner.
Plus, all you're really doing is maintaining those high walls that are keeping him away from knowing the real you.
The most honest and helpful option in the long run would be just to laugh. Jokingly admit you're a creep and that you screenshotted all of his profile pictures to send to your best friend.
Boom! Voila! You just took an extremely embarrassing moment — what you thought was a potential relationship-ender — and turned it into an adorable bonding moment. You showed your partner a glimpse of who you really are: the embarrassing, not-perfectly-curated side.
Even more than that you showed him you're OK with it. And showing your partner how accepting of yourself you are is a strong signal to them that they should be, too.
Falling in love with someone will obviously never happen exactly according to plan, but if you can roll with the punches, laugh along the way and keep the mood light, it makes the weird journey that much more fun.