Most of us have heard from experts and the internet to “be ourselves” when we meet new people. Professionally, personally, and, most of all, romantically, “conforming” has shown itself in constant, varying patterns. How many times have you been on a date and heard “I like jazz Music too!”? It can be difficult to know whether people are being truthful or trying to please you.
What is Conforming?
In the dating world, conforming is when you act similarly to the person you are dating — in personality, interests, or experiences– even if it may not be how you typically act. Pick up artists, in particular, will increase their chances of “scoring” by conforming to the answers and moods of the person in question. It’s an understandable practice — when you’re nervous before a first date, you may find yourself accidentally blurting out, “Me? I also love death metal!” just to make a connection with the cutie sitting across from you at the table. I totally get it– you’re looking for things to talk about to make the conversation for the other person easy and enjoyable even if you are telling half-truths left and right. But while conforming may be the easiest way to go about your dinner date conversation in the moment, you run many risks when you offhandedly agree to everything your date says and does.
This Risks of Conforming
In the entire process of conforming, you lose the essence of a first date– the fun. While we lie and placate the other person, we stress ourselves in multiple ways. On the surface, when we conform, we are under pressure to know the subject we claim to love, and know it thoroughly. Moreover, we are constantly worried about anything blowing our covers.
Going beyond this stress, we also miss the chance to accurately determine our compatibility with the other person. Feigning interest in something that actually bores you will only jeopardize the chances of both of you getting to know each other well. Another embarrassing effect of conforming can be the chances of revealing your false interest several dates later; when your date invites you to the Dark Tranquility concert next week and you absentmindedly reply, “Who?”
Not only is a situation like this embarrassing, but it can also break the trust of the person you’re dating. As many people value trust in a relationship, showing a potential partner that you already aren’t being 100% truthful with them may be a breach in their trust. While of course this wasn’t your initial intention, your goal to please your date may backfire more severely than you would think.
My Experience with Conforming
I once dated a man who completely swept me off my feet with his interests in music and travel. I was intrigued by the fact that he had studied jazz history and traveled all over France just like I had. Moreover, the fact that he was older and more mature was another bonus. I indulged him for a couple more dates until I decided to take him to a jazz bar in New York. I was shocked that I had not noticed the fake ID he had been using to get into every bar we had been going to. To exacerbate the situation, the young gentleman did not seem to have any interest in any of the jazz numbers the live band was playing. After all that, I was not interested to have a look at his passport for his real name, age or even his Schengen Visa for Paris.
So the next time you are on a first date, don’t conform to every single thing your date says or does. Instead, express genuine interest in what they are talking about and ask them to tell you more about it. That way, you can still enjoy a lively conversation about something your date is passionate about while still being truthful to yourself. So if you want a genuine shot at a happily-ever-after in jazz world or Paris, be honest, be true and be you.
Baruni Sharma is a Senior studying psychology at Sarah Lawrence College. She has interests in clinical research, child development, and relationship science.