Just over six months ago, I posted a status comment on my personal Facebook timeline that said, “One thing I’ve told people I know repeatedly: Never confuse how LONG you have known someone with how WELL (you think) you know that person. More often than not, those two concepts are NOT synonymous.”
A man and a woman can converse with one another over the course of three hours, three days, three weeks, three months, or three years . . . but if all of the conversations between them amounted to nothing more than ‘pleasantly phony,’ superficial type ‘fluff talk’ and ‘small talk,’ then neither the man or the woman involved in those conversations will ever gain a better understanding of who their conversation partner really is at their core.
A good example of this happened about ten years ago. I have a female friend who was a high school classmate of mine in my hometown of Gary, Indiana here in the States. I’ll refer to her as “Donna.” I have another woman who I met in 1998 in San Diego while I was living in Los Angeles who I will refer to as “Sharon.” Donna is married, and has been for awhile now. She and I have never been involved with each other romantically or sexually. Sharon is now married, but prior to her meeting her husband, she and I first had a sexual relationship, and then later, that sexual relationship slowly transitioned into an enjoyable, mutually beneficial friendship (which honestly, rarely happens with me and my former lovers).
Skipping over a few miscellaneous details, I had told Donna about Sharon, and Sharon about Donna. All three of us engaged in a handful of three-way Email communications where we exchanged some lighthearted comments and discussed a few things related to dating and male-female relationship dynamics in general.
In one particular Email communication, Donna began ‘bragging’ to Sharon that, “I am one of Alan’s closest female friends! I am a very close confidante of his! Alan doesn’t share too many of his personal secrets with women, but I am definitely in his inner circle! We have known each other since we were in the seventh grade in middle school!” Sharon, who very much considered herself to be one of my closest female confidantes at the time, decided to ‘challenge’ Donna on her assertion. So unbenownst to me, she sent Donna an Email asking her questions such as, “When is Alan’s birthday? What is his favorite dessert? What is his favorite movie of all-time? What is his favorite television show of all-time? What is his favorite meat item (by now, everyone in the world who is familiar with me knows I love chicken wings more than any meat item on earth, but back around 2005, it was not as highly publicized)? What are some of his favorite books? What are some of his biggest goals and ambitions?” and so on and so on.
I cannot remember exactly how many questions Sharon posed to Donna – let’s say fifteen questions total – and Donna was only able to answer maybe two or three of them correctly. Sharon’s conclusion to Donna: “You THINK you know Alan, but you really don’t. You have known Alan for about thirty years, yet you know very little about the real Alan Roger Currie. I have known Alan for less than ten years, but yet I know way more about who he really is, and what he is really about, than you do. I understand you and Alan have never been intimate, but even if you call yourself his ‘play sister,’ you don’t seem to know much about him. So I have to ask … what do you two really talk about? Obviously, not much that matters.”
At the risk of insulting and offending Donna, Sharon’s assessment was right on point, although I would probably claim as much or more guilt myself than I would place on Donna. At that time, I had never revealed as much about myself to Donna in our various conversation over the years as I did with Sharon. I never felt the motivation to, because I never anticipated Donna and I having sex at any point in the near or distant future. Even with Sharon, I did not really shed my seemingly enigmatic and sometimes aloof personality until I knew for a fact that she and I were going to be engaging in sexual relations. Sharon was so cool, that even when she and I stopped having sex, she became somewhat of a ‘wingwoman’ for me (i.e., a wingwoman is a woman who helps one or more of her male friends meet other women to connect with romantically and sexually) and it was her and two of her close girlfriends who later gave me a nickname I still use to this day (“The King of Verbal Seduction”).
Being someone who dabbled in stand-up comedy for a brief period of time (I performed comedy for about 18 months until late 1990), I love comedians who express commentary that is both funny AND TRUE … particularly if it is related to dating and male-female relationships. One such comedy bit is one from Chris Rock’s comedy special entitled Bigger and Blacker. During that performance, Rock said this about the early interactions between men and women in today’s dating scene:
When you’re meeting a man or woman for the first time, you’re not really meeting the ‘real’ them; You’re meeting their ‘representative’ – Comedian Chris Rock
Generally speaking, I would apply Rock’s assertion to members of both genders. I would definitely apply Rock’s statement to the vast majority of women in society. Along these lines, I once had a male listener call into my live talk radio program, Upfront & Straightforward, and express this comment: “Alan, I don’t believe in the whole idea of taking time to ‘get to know a woman’ prior to having sex with her. Because the reality is, you really don’t know a woman until you two have had sex at least a couple of times. Most women act totally differently toward a man before they have sex with him than they do after they have had sex with him. Sometimes, it’s almost like they are two totally different women.”
For the most part, I would generally agree with that statement by this listener. At bare minimum, I would offer this strong assertion: No man will really know the true nature of a woman until he engages in at least one in-depth conversation and discussion with her about her thoughts regarding her own sense of sexuality and more specifically, whether or not that woman is genuinely interested in having sex with him. Until that moment happens, your real self is not really engaging in a conversation with that woman’s real self. To Chris Rock’s point, you are just allowing your ‘social representative’ to engage in trivial, superficial, but yet entertaining conversation with that woman’s ‘social representative.’ Nothing more, nothing less.
A good scene in a movie that addresses this issue is the first dinner-date between Jake (Actor John Cusack) and Sarah (Actress Diane Lane) in the 2005 romantic comedy, Must Love Dogs. Jake, similar to myself, is not a fan of trivial ‘fluff talk’ and ‘small talk,’ and he lets Sarah know this during their first date. Soon, the two are discussing their real thoughts and their real desires and interests, and fast forward a few minutes later, and the two are in the car on their way to find a drug store to purchase some condoms for Jake (if I remember correctly, the two don’t end up having sex that particular night).
What is your ‘real’ behavior? In a nutshell, that is the behavior you exhibit toward others that is totally representative of your real thoughts, your real desires, your real interests, and your real underlying motives as well as your real short-term and long-term intentions.
On the other hand, if while you are conversing with someone, you are exhibiting behavior that is not truly representative of what is really on your mind, and not really representative of your true feelings toward a person or not really representative of what you really want from them, then this means you are doing nothing more than being ‘pleasantly phony’ with others. You are displaying a public façade with those who you are in conversation with designed to ‘win them over’ and provoke them to develop a ‘favorable impression’ of you. In other words, your top priority is to get that other person to ‘like’ you. The problem is, getting people to ‘like’ you should never be your number one priority.
Your top priority should be to verbally communicate to people why you are truly interested in sharing their company. To borrow money from them? To ultimately have sex with them? To have them flatter your ego and give your self-esteem a boost? To crack some jokes and make you laugh? What? Why are you really talking to that person right now? What is your true underlying motivation for socializing with this person, both now and in the near future?
Reality check for men (and women too): Until you and a woman have openly expressed what type of companionship you two are looking for from each other (e.g., purely platonic? strictly sexual? a romantic relationship with a strong emotional bond? business-professional relationship only? other?), everything you talk about up to that point is nothing more than entertaining bullsh*t designed to help you two pass the time without ‘ruffling each others feathers’ in any sort of way. In the long-run, that trivial conversation means jack if you never verbally expressed to that woman why you are really talking to her and why you really want to engage in a series of personal and social interactions with her in the near or distant future. You just wasted your time. She now believes that you are a ‘polite gentleman.’ So what. You now believe that she is a ‘polite lady’ or ‘classy good girl.’ So what. In the big picture, neither subjective perception means jack.
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