The process of socialization teaches us what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, what will result in approval and what will result in rejection. And it isn’t an exact recipe because the specifics are variable depending on the specific social group (such as culture and family) that you are interacting with.
When we are children, this process of socialization lays the foundation for our social interactions as adults. It is a profoundly painful experience for us all because we learn what about us is bad, wrong, unacceptable, unwanted and unlovable. And in order to stay safe in our social group and get our needs met, we must alienate ourselves from those aspects of ourselves. To the opposite, we must identify with and put forward whatever about us is seen as right, good, acceptable, desired and lovable.
By the time we reach an age where we are ready to date, we have been set up to be inauthentic. We spend our time trying to employ a strategy for how to get someone we want, rather than spending our time advertising who we genuinely are so that a person who would value us can actually recognize us. And most of all, we have been set up to dupe anyone that we date. And this is how…
When we go on a date with someone or are starting a relationship with someone, we want them to approve of us and to want us. That is our goal. And we have learned based off of our childhood and early life experience what it is that will guarantee that we will be approved of and wanted by others; and conversely what will cause them to reject and not want us. We walk into a relationship with a template already in our heads about how to have a relationship with someone that will guarantee that they will want us. And so, that is the foot that we put forward. But just because we have entered into a relationship on that pre-conditioned note, doesn’t mean that we are showing them all of who we are. It doesn’t mean we are accurately representing our truth. And it doesn’t mean that the relationship we are setting up is the one we actually want. Because of this, we can’t maintain the ‘self’ we presented when we were first dating someone. Because of this, we are prone to changing the truth of who we are and what we want. And when we do this, we have effectively and unintentionally carried out a ‘bait and switch’. We have duped the person we are dating.
I’ll give you two examples so that you can understand this epidemic that is occurring in the dating scene.
Brian’s dad left the family when he was two years old. His mother distrusted men from that day forward. So much so, that she refused to get into an adult relationship with a man ever again. Instead, she made Brian her surrogate husband. And he grew up in that atmosphere of emotional incest. Brian had to take care of his mother and also of his three younger sisters (as if he was their father) until he was 19 years old.
Brian’s childhood experience taught him that in order to be wanted by a woman, the right recipe is to find a woman who is struggling and to become the man who does everything for her. Be the man who is uber responsible. Be the man who does the chores without ever having to ask. Be the man to take that missing father role in her child’s life (he only ever dates single mothers). Be the man who plans and leads and manages her, so that she feels like she is being carried through life. Be the man who fixes all the problems in her life.
And his recipe works! The women who ‘go for’ this behavior during the dating phase are the women who want that specific thing from a man. The thing is, this is how Brian knows how to be in a relationship and this is what Brian knows will make women want him. It’s a strategy. It’s not necessarily the full reality of Brian and of what Brian really wants in a relationship.
Brian’s life experience has traumatized him. The truth is, he has always needed and wanted support. He has always wanted someone to make their life about him and to support his goals, rather than making his entire life about them and their goals. He has always wanted to be genuinely mothered. To be told what to do. To be cooked for. To be nurtured. To be encouraged etc. This causes Brian to enter into relationships as one man but to turn into a different man. When he starts to feel unfulfilled in the relationship with a woman, which will inevitably happen, he begins to subconsciously change. Suddenly, Brian chronically starts forgetting things. He needs to be managed and told what to do in order to get things right. Whenever she is feeding her child, he asks for her to make some extra for him. He leaves chores un-done and he sleeps in. He starts prioritizing the goals that he has and gets the woman he is with to put her energy into his goals. He passive aggressively makes sure that she will pick up every ball there is to pick up. Pretty soon she realizes that instead of having been rescued by a real man, she now has an additional grown-up child to take care of. She’s not just on her own again, she has an extra person to take care of too.
Every woman is duped in the dating phase by Brian because he enters into the dating phase as a totally different man than is the reality of Brian and what Brian really wants. And as a result of it, he gets rejected over and over again.
Stacy, like so many women in society has definitely learned that the most valuable thing that a woman can be is beautiful. She knows that for a man to really want her, she needs to look good. She needs to be fit, wear sexy clothes, put on makeup and since guys like sex, she needs to put out. When Stacy is single, she goes to great lengths to be and do all of these things. And men are definitely responsive to her.
But Stacy doesn’t really like sex. In fact, she’s never orgasmed with a guy. Sex for Stacy is about guaranteeing that a man will want to commit to her instead of to another woman. Stacy doesn’t want a guy to want her for what she looks like. She wants a guy to want her for her personality and for how good of a person and partner she is. Because of this, the most common complaint that men give once they are past the dating phase and into a committed relationship with Stacy is that she lets herself go. And gradually, Stacy’s partner is in a relationship with a woman who is gaining weight, who has a terrible diet, who wears sweatpants every day, who never puts on makeup and who is never interested in sex. And Stacy is furious. Every man she ends up with is just like the last, shallow assholes who only care about sex and having a trophy, not a real relationship and not love.
Every man is duped in the dating phase by Stacy because she enters into the dating phase as a different woman, with different values than the real Stacy. She advertises herself to be one way and is really the opposite way.
Even though we have the tendency to dupe each other during the dating phase, we tend to get surprised and hurt when we change who we are and what we want, but that “more authentic” version of ourselves is met with fury and rejection. We definitely would not be surprised or upset if someone was pissed and rejected a product that we advertised as one thing, when really it was another. The reason we get upset when we do the exact same thing, but with the way we advertise ourselves is because what we all desperately want is unconditional love. We want someone to love us no matter what. And often, when we’ve already secured someone and they have committed to us, that relationship security makes us feel safe enough to show the other person more of us, especially the things we were keeping from them in the dating phase. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: The ‘No Matter What’ Pattern In Relationships.
This tendency we have to unintentionally dupe people in the dating phase of a relationship, is a set up for rejection. Afterall, we can’t expect that if a person said yes to being with who we were when we were dating them, that they will say yes when we suddenly become something totally different.
Most of us only know one way of being in a relationship. Most of us know only one way of being wanted. It is usually whatever strategy worked with our parents and in our culture of origin. And so, we do that! But, if this is not the full truth of who we are or of what we want, we will flip on the people we date. And cause immeasurable pain and re-traumatization to both ourselves and the people we date as a result of it.
When you are dating, contrary to a lot of dating advice, it is so important to know what specifically you want to have be wanted and loved about you. And what kind of relationship you actually want. From there, it is so important to advertise yourself as what you authentically are and speak and act in a way that is reflective of what you actually want in a relationship. You don’t want to go score someone who wants something you aren’t or don’t want to be. It is no measure of success to enter into a relationship with someone who wants a totally different relationship than you do. And is it really a measure of success to be able to dupe someone into thinking you are something that you aren’t? If you do that, they don’t want you. So, that feel good sensation of having found a strategy that causes you to be wanted by someone, isn’t actually in reality. In reality, they don’t want you. All this being said, if you are straight up terrified about entering into a relationship advertising the reality of yourself and the reality of what you’re looking for, you would benefit by watching my episode titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change your Self Worth).
To advertise reality is scary because it means that people will be judging the real you, not just something fake that you put out there. There is no ‘buffer’ anymore. But how much energy and time do you really have for this strategic, deceptive dance? Do you want to continue to perpetuate this culture where other people dupe you? What kind of dating world do you want to vote for with your thoughts, words and actions? One where people are as advertised? Or one where you only find out who someone is and what they really want once you’ve already committed to them and there will be pain on all sides?