Authenticity vs. strategic phoniness

by Dating Goddess on May 16, 2011

I was listening to my friend Mike Robbins speak to a group about his newest book on authenticity, Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already Taken: Transform Your Life with the Power of Authenticity. He’d asked the audience a few questions about what value authenticity has in our lives and then he asked why being authentic was so hard.

Several people shared that being authentic meant being vulnerable which wasn’t always optimal, especially in business. There was much agreement that one should be their authentic self, no matter what. Phoniness was not compelling.

I raised my hand and said, “I struggle with strategic phoniness. For example, if I’d shown up for this event without makeup or Spanx, you wouldn’t have wanted to be around me. My authentic self wears neither, but it doesn’t represent the me I want you to know. So when is strategic phoniness acceptable?”

A lively discussion ensued about how looking one’s best wasn’t really phony.

It made me think about dating. We want to put our best selves forward, but where is the line between presenting ourselves in the best possible light and being inauthentic? We think certain elements of our personality are unattractive so we should keep those hidden until we know someone better and feel they won’t reject us for those.

However, a common complaint in dating is that someone didn’t turn out as they represented themselves. He appeared successful, wearing expensive clothes or spending lavishly on dates. Only when you were hooked emotionally to him, did you learn he was deep in debt.

Or he snuggled up next to you during your favorite TV shows or sports, seemingly engaged, but once you are committed (or married!) he shows no interest whatsoever. The new wife of my cousin confided that when they were dating, they would work out together 5 times a week. Now that they are married, she can’t get him to the gym.

Or when dating, they’d have sex regularly. Both seemed to really enjoy it. Now that they are living together, you can count on one hand the number of intimate times they share each month.

So where’s the line between wanting to seem like a good sport and participate in your sweetie’s activities, and when you’re being inauthentic? You fear that if you are truly authentic (“No, I don’t want to hang out with your bratty grandkids this weekend”), you won’t find anyone to date. However, when is “going along” and “being a good sport” turn into pretending something that isn’t true for you?
What’s your take on the distinction between authenticity and strategic phoniness? Have you been disappointed when someone you thought was authentic turned out to be different?

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How do you determine if he’s being authentic or a poser? Get your copy of Real Deal or Faux Beau: Should You Keep Seeing Him?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Fancy May 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I am in a relationship where we are getting to know one another on a much more intimate level than before (I moved to be nearer him 5 months ago).
I find we both have “real” things that are coming out now that we see each other almost daily.
I hope he will be as understanding as I am trying to be; that he will see that I’m still the same caring, fun, intelligent woman I was when we were dating…
I DO find myself “Going Along” sometimes. And I’m sure he does, too.
It’s even more challenging that we have both been on our own for many years and are adjusting to having this much intimacy.
I find that living in the “real” makes for challenges but also builds a new, deeper level of caring, sharing and loving.
I had to work at having fun when I was alone too, don’t forget! Many times I went along to avoid being alone.
I’m glad I have a man in my life who cares for me and is willing to go to some effort to spend time with me. I’m not looking for perfection, I’m hoping for genuine affection, mutual respect and shared lives!

Fancy

Rhea May 17, 2011 at 5:32 am

I have had this scenario – especially the one you stated above:
1. when dating, they’d have sex regularly. Both seemed to really enjoy it. Now that they are living together, you can count on one hand the number of intimate times they share each month.
2. He would be up for anything when we were dating and now he just wants to stay home

This all came about a little over a year after we had started dating intensely and he asked me to move in with him – which I did…and now…I feel a bit dupped but I do love him…. how do you deal with that?

Richard May 25, 2011 at 3:46 am

“What’s your take on the distinction between authenticity and strategic phoniness?”

Authenticity is what you would do normally. So, if you put on makeup each day, then put on makeup each day. The grey area is if you only do it on dates, and he only sees you on dates, such as getting all dolled up for an evening dinner at a nice restaurant. It is still part of you, but it is like people who only see you at work. They have no idea how you are in your personal life.

Another grey area is when two people are getting to know each other. I enjoy learning about new things. If she likes golfing, then I have no problem taking a few lessons and going out with her on a round of golf. However, it may take me a little while to decide if this is a lifestyle change I will enjoy over the long-term. You need to be honest once you have figured out it is not for you.

“This all came about a little over a year after we had started dating intensely and he asked me to move in with him – which I did…and now…I feel a bit dupped but I do love him…. how do you deal with that?”

“and he asked me to move in with him ” – Two solutions: 1) Don’t move in until the infatuation stage of the relationship is past; or 2) You have to be ready to call it quits – If you had not moved in with him, what would be your decision? It is the “moving in” part that has clouded your judgment.

Mike May 25, 2011 at 3:32 pm

This is a great conversation and awesome post! Authenticity is key in dating and relationships…and, at the same time I think we are all inherently inauthentic to a certain degree…better yet, “full of it,” although not usually with any ill-intent. Of course we want to put our best foot forward and impress other people with how we look, act, etc – especially when we initially meet someone. However, there is real freedom in just being who we are, without apology. When my wife of 6 years (we have been together for more than 10) and I were on our 3rd date, we decided to start telling each other lots of things we didn’t want the other one to know about us. It was scary, but liberating. Now, she knows just about all of my darkness and loves me anyway…same for me with her.

Dating Goddess May 25, 2011 at 10:48 pm

BTW, this last posting was by the author I mentioned, Mike Robbins!

shalz June 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I guess Inauthinticity is ok… as long at some point you mention to the other person that you don’t really know or think youre into something, but youre just trying it out as a show of care for the other person. (otherwise we never grow) Bonus is… If you are into it then wow! you know who to thank for infinitiy, and if not…well I’m sure you can make a joke of it.

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