I’m a pretty good chameleon, and always have been. I can morph myself into a funny or serious or intellectual girl, depending on who was sitting across from me. It worked well for me when I was dating, until it didn’t.
I was good at analyzing men – whether they were uptight, business-minded or just wanting to play. And if I was on a date, I would try to assess what they wanted within the first few minutes, so then I would know how to act. If a man was uptight, I’d compliment him and laugh at his jokes so he wouldn’t seem so nervous or uncomfortable. If he was serious and didn’t like to waste time, I found myself cutting my stories short or speaking in a hurried manner just to match his style. I wanted these men to find me acceptable – or more to the point, just what he was looking for.
This worked for a while – I had a lot of men interested in me.
But the problem was I just never found the “right” one for me. Sure I liked them, but were they boyfriend material? Not usually. So why was I going through all this trouble?
Part of it was the thrill of feeling attractive to men. I admit I liked being thought of as sexy or smart or mysterious or whatever complimentary adjective they wanted to throw my way. I thought the goal of love was to make men swoon – to be someone they really wanted – and then I would have my choice. What I didn’t take into account was that I had no real idea what I actually wanted. I was just play-acting, fitting a role of who I thought men would want me to be and hoping that chemistry would direct me. Confusing, huh?
Sure, I had my list of what I wanted in my man – my soul mate, or whatever you want to call it. At one point my list was even four pages long, since I would add more things to it after each failed date. But I didn’t need a man who didn’t smoke, who loved all the same movies, who didn’t talk with his mouth full, or who had a steady paycheck (though all these things would be nice). I needed someone who loved and accepted the real me, quirks and all.
I didn’t understand that meeting the right man would mean feeling more like myself around him – not less.
I wouldn’t have to try so hard to please him, to be the kind of woman he wanted, or to make myself into someone I just wasn’t. I speak quickly. I interrupt. I love listening to stories, especially about someone’s life. I can get angry over silly things, and I am pretty clumsy on the whole. I didn’t want to pretend to be always graceful and put-together when I just wasn’t.
It took me a while to figure this out about myself and to start changing my own behavior, but like all good things, when I finally did – it was worth it.