If you feel less-than-confident while dating, you might fall into the common trap of attempting to convince someone that you're "perfect" — or, at least, "perfect" for them. Got feelings? You keep them to yourself. Hate their favorite show? Pretend it's your favorite. Feeling gassy? You would never fart on the first date. Right? So many of us are convinced presenting a perfect version of ourselves is the only way to win another person's love — a ridiculous concept considering nobody is perfect. I tackle this misconception in my new book of dating advice, Just Send The Text.
My favorite story in the book comes from Mayen, a 26-year-old from the United Kingdom. “One of the biggest things I learned from the last guy I dated before my current guy was never lie,” she told me via Instagram DM. She was introduced to him through a mutual friend when she moved to a new city so he could show her around, but things "quickly became flirty" between them. "Maybe the third time we hung out, he was talking about girls and how they should be proper and all this, and I just sat there holding a fart in like, 'Oh boy, this isn’t going to work.'" In other words, Mayen, who says she’s been told by exes that she’s “the gassiest gal they’ve ever met,” tried to play The Game — she tried to transform herself into the woman that a guy wanted her to be — and all it left her with was a literal stomachache.
Cut to her current boyfriend, the first person she dated after the non-farter. “When I met my boyfriend, I farted on our first date to make sure he knew me before I invested any real feelings.” They’ve been together for over two years now.
I'm not actually suggesting you fart on the first date. But try thinking of the fart as a metaphor. What's your equivalent of a fart? In other words, what's something that you're unwilling to compromise on? What aspect of yourself do you want to make sure you’re really getting out there immediately to ensure you’re not wasting your time with someone who’s not interested in the real you?
My personal fart was knowing that I eventually want to move back to where I grew up in the Bay Area. I've lived in New York City throughout my 20s, but I've always known I want to end up back on the West Coast. And so, I would relay that information on the first date.
Telling a virtual stranger where you plan on raising the children you potentially might have together is by no means the "cool" thing to do. I haven't fully read The Rules, but I'm sure this goes against more than a few of them. But here's the thing. What's the point of waiting? So that I could wait until we've said "I love you" and he's met my parents before he tells me he would never move to California and we have to break up?
I'm sure I creeped out plenty of guys by bringing up my future life plans on the first date. But then I met Brian. Instead of laughing or shrugging it off, he thought about it for a second and said, "Hmm... Well, I think that should work. I just have to convince my mom to move there, too." Now, over four years since that first date, we're engaged. And guess what? I know he's down to live in Marin. There was no scary part of our relationship where I had to blindside him with this information. No sleepless nights spent wondering how I'll bring it up to him. I got it over with before either of us were invested. And I'm glad I did.
I know what I’m suggesting here is scary. The reason why so many of us continue to play The Game is because we’ve seen results. We dress up for a date and revel in the attention we get as a result. We refrain from blurting out “I love you” at the end of the first date and it snags us a second date. We post thirst traps on Insta and, like clockwork, see our dates' names pop up on our phones seconds after. We keep playing The Game because, as far as we know, it works. It doesn’t necessarily always help us "win" a long-term relationship, but it often helps us keep our crushes around for longer than expected.
And I’m not suggesting throwing The Game out entirely. Keep doing the things that feel true to your nature! If putting on a full face of makeup and doing your hair makes you feel like the most confident version of yourself before a first date, then go for it! Please! But if you feel like your best self with no makeup and a messy bun, then there's no issue with rocking that on your first date.
All I’m really suggesting here is that you stop playing The Game when it starts making you act like you have to be someone you’re not. There’s a fine line between playing The Game and losing yourself entirely. Do yourself a favor, avoid crossing it, and don’t be afraid to pass some (metaphorical) gas.
You can find more on letting go of your dating anxiety and embracing your most authentic self in my guide to modern dating, Just Send The Text, on sale Feb. 2 from Tiller Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.