On our first date, as we walked to his car, he said, “I’ll open the door for you, but don’t get used to this.”
I asked why.
“Because I don’t usually open the door for women. In six months, I will have stopped and you’ll think something is wrong. Nothing’s wrong. It’s just not my habit to open the door for a woman. And I’m too old to develop new habits.”
“I know from our conversations that you are a man who strives for personal continuous improvement. So if you were really into a woman and your opening the door for her was important to her, I bet you’d work to make that a habit.”
“That’s true” he admitted. “But I’ve learned not to over promise on things that just aren’t in my nature to keep up over time. It creates expectations that I’m not likely to meet. And that creates disappointment.”
“That makes sense. You don’t want to pretend to be someone you’re not.”
“Exactly. For example, I’ve learned to give only a 10-minute massage. I used to give an hour, but then the woman would expect an hour’s massage each time. I can do 10 minutes frequently, but I can’t do an hour.”
I appreciated his candor, even though I also appreciate chivalry. It made me wonder about what each of us does early on in a relationship that is for show — to ingratiate ourselves to the other. I looked back on my own behaviors to see how I can be different in the early stages of a relationship than after we’ve been together a while.
In all honesty, I think I’ve been nicer in the early stages, not saying when something bothered me. I don’t know if it was insecurity that the guy might not like me, or just feeling that it wasn’t polite to say something. Now I’m more confident and more assertive. I don’t put up with the BS I used to.
What have you observed yourself doing — or not doing — that you changed as you got to know someone? Have you purposefully learned to not try to be someone you’re not when you know you’ll revert to your true self in short order? Have you experienced someone who put on behaviors at first, but then dropped them as you got to know each other?
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