Editor's Note: This post is written by Jeremy Orr with collaboration and editing from me. Jeremy does not have a blog (yet!) but you can follow his often witty and generally hilarious tweets here. Jeremy is a good friend I met in high school through the CA Youth & Government program. If you want to put a face to the name, check-out this embarrassingly old picture of us (Photo was taken with my good friend Lauren Jew in high school; note that I practically have blond hair!). For a more current photo, check out this picture from our recent sailing adventure, in which we further developed many of the ideas in this post.
Practice the Golden Rule of Dating
The golden rule of dating is the same golden rule you learned in grammar school: treat others the way you want to be treated. It may sound obvious and cliche, but based on some of my recent experiences, let me provide a little refresher on common courtesies when it comes to dating or being in a relationship.
Dating today seems much more casual than in decades past. Technology - whether online profiles, cell phones, emails, chat or voicemail - allows for a certain distance while also keeping us conveniently connected. The "traditional" methods of dating have gone out the window. Meeting someone in a bar seems so passé. And meeting a friend of a friend is awkward - if it doesn’t work out, you could lose a friend in the process! As much as we may hate to admit it, online dating has become a more viable option, especially considering how much information people openly share online these days. Online dating may be less stigmatized, but still no one wants to admit that they actually do it!
The rub of dating for our generation has become anonymity. In my experience, people seem to use technology to stretch the truth (and worse) when it comes to dating. I can understand it but I cannot condone it.
The Truth and Nothing but the Truth
Here’s why I understand stretching the truth or pretending to be someone you are not: you are dating, you want to get out into the world (cyber or otherwise) and you want to present your best self. You want to obtain the best possible match. Let's face it, almost everyone wants to date up. Everyone wants to find someone that is the best for them. You want to see what that magic mirror version of yourself can fetch on the open market. Not what your "I forgot to shave and brush my teeth" self can muster. In that sense, I understand it. It happens to the best of us. However, that does not mean it is okay to lie.
For those of you doing online dating: are you 5’9? Tell people you are 5’9 and not 5’11. People are going to notice those two inches. People lie about their height or weight before meeting and seem to think that is okay. It is not. It is misrepresenting yourself. If you are dishonest before you meet someone, it does not matter if you think your wonderful personality and stunning wit will win them over. They will be automatically turned off by your little fib.
Jeremy's Obligatory Personal Anecdote (OPA): I met a nice girl online once. She was very cute in her profile pics. We shared some emails in which we shared some common interests and I thought she was funny, playful, and sharp. Three things I like. We made plans to meet for coffee. I got there early and was excited. She showed up and was (now I am no carnival barker) 60 pounds heavier than her pictures. I am not opposed to a girl who is bigger, especially if she has a great attitude and owns her look. However, I felt lied to. I felt like I was intentionally deceived. I was polite, enjoyed my beverage, but no matter how well our meeting went, it could not make up for the initial misrepresentation.
To Thine Own Self Be True
Just be comfortable with who you are and what you do. Know what you like and what you seek in another person. Ideally you want to find someone who likes to do what you like to do, not someone who likes what you like them to do (and vice versa). Don't lie to make yourself seem interesting or more attractive. If the other person isn't interested in you for you, let them go. This can be hard to do, especially if the other person represents an idealized version of yourself - someone or something you wish you were. But do it anyway. Move on. The things you expect from other people, like being in shape, you must also do yourself. It is okay to put your best self out there, but be honest about it.
Be upfront and let people know what you are looking for - that is the only way you will find it. For some of us, we need to stop and take the time to think about what it is that we want. Be honest with yourself. Are you looking for a long term relationship or just a good time? Are you in a relationship that you know is a dead-end? These are things we have to take the time to think about. Understandably, sometimes we are looking for different things at different moments in our lives. We are complex beings. But if we can't understand ourselves and what we want, then how can we ever expect anyone else to understand us? Take the time to find out what it is you are looking for.
The End of the Road
Honesty needs to happen in all phases of dating, not just before you meet and while getting to know someone. It is also important to be honest if a relationship is coming to an end. If you aren’t interested in someone, it can be a difficult phone call to make: sorry, this isn't working for me and I want to let you know.
When do you "owe" someone this call? If you have just gone out on a first date and it didn't go well, do you need to call and let them know? If it would be awkward without a call, you need to make the call. Perhaps you find they appreciate your candor and you will feel better about yourself. You will be presenting a positive you into the dating realm that you can feel good about. This self-confidence will ultimately help you. Besides, don’t you appreciate it if someone is honest with you? Yes, it sucks to know that the person doesn’t like you, but at least you know. When you think all is well and that person just drops off the face of the earth it can be somewhat concerning. Make the difficult phone call; you’ll be glad you did.
Bottom line: if you are doing something and wouldn't want it done to you, you shouldn't do it. So as cliche as it sounds, we could all use a reminder to go by the golden rule when dating: treat other people the way you want to be treated. Walk around with your head held high knowing you are someone who dates with honesty, integrity, and respect. Join the club, I’ll have patches made for our sleeves. We can even meet for coffee once a month to share scar stories from break-up phone calls gone awry.