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  • A powerful instinct when we meet someone we're attracted to is to try to please them - and

  • we can naturally assume that the best way we might do this is to signal just how much

  • we agree with their views and choices on all matters great and small.

  • On an early date, when they happen to mention that they love dancing, we will reveal that

  • of course we love dancing too. Or when they explain how boring they find museums, we will

  • hide that on a trip to Berlin last year, we spent a whole fascinating day in the galleries

  • of the Altes Museum.

  • We may not state direct falsehoods but we stretch and bend the truth to its limits so

  • as to create an impression of near-total alignment.

  • Along the way, it rarely occurs to us that they might be performing some of the same

  • rigmarole for us, that they might also be adjusting their self-presentation in subtle

  • but powerful ways to fit in with what they take to be our preferences and values. There's

  • a tragi-comic aspect to our deepening mutual attraction. Two decent people are trying to

  • be as nice as they can. No one is setting out to deceive and yet, gradually, a set of

  • hugely misleading and dangerous ideas about who each person really is, are getting established.

  • The apparent success of our will-to-please can inspire us to move in together and later

  • to marry. And then - inevitably - the prolonged, intimate scrutiny that coupledom brings reveals

  • the scale of our mistaken expectations. In a sequence of disillusioning stages, we are

  • each saddened, disappointed and shocked to discover who we have ended up with. There

  • are recriminations, rows and fragile reconciliations until finally one or other of us comes to

  • the grim, but still surprising conclusion that we were never compatible.

  • Or we may stick at it with growing misery. We face a life-time of holidays that never

  • involve the museum visits we crave. We have to resign ourselves to never having had the

  • kind of sex we want. Or, even more grievously, we eventually embark on a furtive life; we

  • seek out the moments when they're away to pursue needs we've pretended not to have.

  • Until one day our double-life is exposed - and we drown in bitterness, fury and sorrow.

  • Yet the origin of such nightmares is only ever a hugely touching, but painfully flawed

  • and risky, devotion to being an easy match. We want to be simple; and yet we end up in

  • a very complicated mess.

  • A genuinely simpler approach would involve daring to be a bit more complex from the start.

  • There is no need to be brazen or demanding just as there is no requirement that our date

  • agree or even stick around beyond dessert (or the main course). Some will run away - and

  • should. It will save everyone a lot of time.

  • In order to be honest in seduction, we need a basic sense of acceptability, we must know

  • that we are not perfect but that we are not for that matter wholly abject or shameful.

  • Our inner conviction that our oddities are essentially reasonable allows us to present

  • ourselves to another person without fear or defensiveness.

  • Our candour then arms us with the right to ask our date to reveal - with similar honesty

  • - what may be individual and difficult about their own characters. If they insist that

  • they are really very simple and 'easy', we are allowed to be gently but firmly sceptical.

  • They are a human being, and to be human is to be complicated. It cannot possibly be true

  • that they exist without significant quirks.

  • Being straightforward on dates is in the end a mechanism for two people to fast-forward

  • time - and to spare themselves agony. We should know that a polished surface can't be a

  • true picture of who anyone can be. Only once our mutual complexities have been outlined

  • should we sense that we are safe in the presence of a fellow mature and pleasingly direct individual.

  • We will have the simpler relationships we desire, when we can dare to share and accommodate

  • the actual complexities of human nature.

A powerful instinct when we meet someone we're attracted to is to try to please them - and

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The Need to Be Honest at the Start of Relationships

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/28
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