Just got back from spending the 4th of July holiday week with my fiance and his family up in Washington State. Amidst the packed schedule of one event to the next, hugs, laughter, kids running around and getting into trouble, and waaaay too many loud firecrackers, one thing became clear to me: wow, his family gets along exceptionally well!
(Luckily they will be my family, too, soon!)
It made me wonder what makes one group of people get along and enjoy each others’ company, while another group feels uncomfortable and can’t wait to get away.
I believe it all comes down to how much you feel you can be yourself around them.
This is why it baffles me that there is so much dating advice out there that tells you NOT to be yourself. For example…
- Setting rules or “do’s and don’ts”
- Saying what is not appropriate conversation topic when you first meet or on a first date
- Giving canned lines, scripts, or routines
Oh, if you only knew all the basic, “everyone-knows-that” dating rules that I’ve broken (Like, telling my fiance that I would probably fall in love with him one day…on our first date!), hopefully you would realize just how arbitrary and unnecessary most of these rules are when it comes to actually finding the right person.
I’ve worked with so many clients who said, “I read this book, tried this technique, and it kinda worked…but I felt really uncomfortable doing it.”
Dating, attraction, flirting–these things are supposed to feel good! If they don’t feel good, then something is off.
Of course, if your only goal is to get laid for the night, then by all means, use someone else’s “get-laid” routine.
But if your goal is to find that special someone that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, then be yourself.
(Did Liz really just give the lamest, cliche advice “just be yourself”?!)
Damn right I did.
More accurately, be authentic.
Sometimes when someone says “just be yourself” what they mean is “keep doing what you’re doing, don’t change a thing, and one day, you will magically get different results.” Obviously, this is silly and if you want different results, you should take new actions.
However, I’ve found that taking new actions towards getting what you want in life will make you more authentic, more yourself, than you were before.
Another term for that might be self-actualizing.
The main reason to be authentic in dating, though, is because if you’re in it for the long-term, then one day you will be together with family at a 4th of July BBQ (even if you aren’t American, the 4th of July still exists in your country and you never know).
And the question is, will you be comfortable and happy to be around each other, or will it be tense, awkward, and uncomfortable?
That really depends on how authentic you are with each other from the moment you meet–the moment you start flirting.
Oh, and did I mention that authenticity is damn sexy?
Knowing how to flirt is really knowing how to bring out your authentic personality so that it can attract others to you.
So what does it mean to be authentic?
Authenticity is owning your emotions and your present state. It’s working with what IS rather than trying to manufacture a scenario.
For example, let’s say you’re flirting with someone and suddenly there is an awkward moment of silence. You know that moment–when a topic you’ve been talking about wraps up and you don’t know what to say next.
Most people panic in these moments. “Oh no, an awkward moment! I’m really f-cking this up! Grrr, I’m such a bad flirt, I’ll never meet anyone…”
Awkward moments in conversation happen. When they do, you can smile and say, “Awkward moment…” and suddenly it’s funny…and flirty.
Cracked a joke and it didn’t get a laugh? That happens to me all the time. In fact, recently I was doing a live event where I said that when I crack a joke that no one laughs at, I just shrug and say, “Well, I thought it was funny anyway.” One of my clients laughed–it was laughter of recognition because of how many times he’s heard me do that!
Being good at flirting is not about always having the right lines to say (seriously, who does?) or making things perfect. It’s about being your authentic self and enjoying the heck out of doing so!
One common mistake that I see people make is that they confuse authenticity with emotionality. They feel insecure, lonely, and/or angry, and so they express THAT to others because, hey, “It’s authentic.”
Insecurity, limiting beliefs, and emotional baggage are not your authentic self. They are what keeps your authentic self from shining through.
In the last decade of the 20th century, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel was restored (yes, I’m going somewhere with this…).
This restoration was somewhat controversial because, up until this point, the Sistine Chapel appeared to have muted and dark tones, and art historians thought of Michelangelo as a dark and brooding artist.
The restoration revealed bold, bright colors underneath what was actually centuries worth of dirt and pre-electricity candle soot. Many art historians were excited by this new discovery, but some were pissed that their perceptions about the “real” Michelangelo were ruined.
The dark, brooding, overly-emotional, cynical, needy, negative “you” is not the authentic you: it’s you filtered through years worth of crap (ie. emotional baggage).
Yes, I know that some people are attracted to dark and brooding. Those people are looking for a restoration project, not a healthy relationship.
Your true authentic self–the one underneath the layers of crap–is as beautiful, attractive, and magnetic as the actual Sistine Chapel. Yes, I’m talking about YOU (so tell that little voice that just said, “well not my real self…” to shut it).
So how do you express your authentic self?
1) Continually bring your awareness back to the present moment. What IS actually going on right now? Respond to reality, not with what you think *should* be happening.
2) When you’re talking with people, allow yourself to express what you are truly passionate about, be that art, science, or science fiction movies. If you think the person you’re flirting with will find your passions stupid, why the heck are you flirting with them?
3) Stop following arbitrary “rules”–dating and otherwise. Common courtesy is one thing, but many of these rules ADD layers of crap on top of the beautiful work of art that is the authentic you. Better to mess up as you than be smooth as someone else.
And, above all, remember that your authentic self is the sexiest thing you can be!