The Harm In Formality

First dates are so formal. If you think about it, you spend three or four hours engaging in some sort of structured activity with another person, nervously and anxiously trying to impress the dude and try to get to know him at the same time.

My question is, how are you supposed to get to know someone when they are putting on a front just like you are in order to impress you? I know i’m guilty of spending an extra half hour making sure my hair has more bounce and shine than usual and that my eye makeup is just slightly darker in attempt to make my eyes that much more alluring, and sucking on breath mints until he arrives.

Then he comes to the door, wearing a just-more-than-casual button-up shirt that he may or may not have ironed beforehand, and wouldn’t be caught dead in on a typical day. You exchange a stiff “hello” and follow him to his car, where, if he is a “gentleman”, he will open the passenger door and wait for you to self-consciously climb inside before jogging around the automobile to climb in through the driver’s side.

I don’t care how much of a “gentleman” your date is, there is no way that he regularly opens the car door for his passengers. It’s just not natural.

As the time passes, slowly at first, but progressively faster, you anxiously and cautiously engage in a conversation in which all you can think about is the kind of person you’re coming across as and anticipating possible conversation-starters just in case, heaven forbid, the current topic of conversation dies out and you both end up sitting across the table in an awkward stupor of speechlessness, and how you only get one first impression and oh gosh now it’s raining and he’s going to see your hair transform into an untamed, frizzy mess and nobody is into an untamed frizzy mess.

Again, I thought the point of dating was to get to know someone and see if they make the cut for a second date, and eventually, a relationship. But it’s really hard to do that when you’re putting on a faker-than-fake persona that you THINK he will like. Let’s be honest, people. You can only hide your crazy for so long.

So there you are, sitting across the table with someone that you can now call an acquaintance, and the conversation is beginning to flow a little more freely. The tension is gradually being lifted and you feel yourself relax. That is, until it’s time to order, but luckily you’ve premeditated appropriate food options in order to avoid getting food on your attire, face, or worse, in between your teeth. And also, it can’t be a hamburger or else he’ll think you’re a total fatty.

Then there’s the matter of how much you should eat. You can’t possibly finish the entire dish in front of a GUY, even though you skipped out on lunch today and can feel your tummy eating itself it’s that hungry. And you better not eat more than he does. And you better not eat too fast, but you can’t take too long and make him wait for you, either.

What’s the big deal? If a guy is gonna treat me to a 12-dollar dinner at my favorite restaurant, you better believe I’m gonna enjoy it. ALL of it.

The date comes to a close, and let’s say hypothetically he does like this fake-o person you improvised, based on your assumptions of what he likes, and you get a second date with this suitor. How long are you going to play the part of the well-mannered, exceedingly polite, normal girl that you were on your first date? And by the way, he’s doing the same thing. Where does the formality stop, and a couple decides to be themselves instead?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, well-planned, structured date. But I HATE the pressure that comes with it. All it is is two people putting on a show for one another while out for a night of public entertainment. Maybe I’m the only one with this problem. I just find it immensely difficult to be myself on a date when there is a mutual expectation to behave as a proper, formal person who is just talkative enough to make herself interesting, but doesn’t give too much away, and is instantly intrigued with everything that comes out of her date’s mouth.

I guess everyone’s different, and some people just need some time to break out of their little shells when they’re around new people. But I just wish there weren’t so much pressure to impress people. On dates. In everyday life. Like I said, you can only hide your crazy for so long, and after spending X amount of time with the same person, they’re bound to meet the REAL you. And the faster you can be the REAL you around someone, the faster you can weed out the ones who aren’t going to stick around when they meet you in your entirety.

Can I get an amen?

M.

 

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