How often have strangers who wish to date one another talk about 'not rushing' things, being 'friends first' or 'taking time' to get to know the other person? That's a fine sentiment and desire.
However, the bad news is that, no matter how long we take to know someone new, we will only ever see the superficial things that person does not mind being seen. The real personality behind the smile or the frown will always remain hidden, and there is a simple reason for that: the desire for approval and to impress leads to a lot of initial pretence as we do what is EXPECTED of us, but not what really suits us. That is why many relationships break down eventually when crises begin to happen, because of unfulfilled expectations, as the true person is gradually revealed.
From our childhood, we have been taught to please, especially the people who matter to us. Pleasing others brings rewards and benefits, while displeasing them deprives us of attention and value, so we learn to suppress our real feelings in order to get that approval and attention. That is no different in adulthood. When we meet anyone, particularly relating to our relationships and jobs, we want to enjoy the situation, or the new date, as much as possible and so we put our best foot forward to keep in their good books. When things are fine we will only ever reveal what we wish to reveal. It means that no matter how long we are given to 'get to know' us, it will never be long enough. However, there is a quicker way to know that person: create a crisis.
Back in 2001, at the height of the crisis in 9/11, one man emerged as a saviour, as someone entirely different than he had been perceived: Rudy Guiliani, the mayor of New York. To most people, he behaved so much out of character, as to be almost unrecognisable. Yet what Rudy had done was to respond to a crisis in his own way which showed the true side of his character. And that is the best way to find out the real truth about anyone: how they react to a crisis, because that's when they do not have enough time to think, to pose, to impress, or to perform. They have to go by actions, and actions are dictated in those circumstances by pure instincts, the first thing that comes to mind. There is little leeway to plan carefully and perform to expectations.
Crises take us out of our comfort zones and force us to react in ways which have to reveal our values, priorities and motives and resilience. We usually find such moments pretty dramatic and stressful and will deal with them in the only way we feel is right. Like the guy I knew who had a crisis at work and just went to pieces. He had no idea for any solution to it and just seemed to enjoy the victimhood of it, blaming everyone else while he did nothing about it. Yet, up to that moment, he had appeared a confident, solid person who seemed happy with his life and where he was heading. That crisis showed that as long as life was good, he was fine too. But, his self esteem was so low, the minute something went wrong, he couldn't cope with it, and didn't even want to discuss it, and actually went to pieces.
Next time you meet someone and are keen to take things forward, let the Universe do its job without trying to control the pace of the friendship. Don't take your time or put provisos on to it. You will soon find out much more than you expected because, once a crisis rears its head, the pretence and artificiality will disappear. That's the time the real person comes into being, which will also demonstrate, without a doubt, whether he/she is really for you.
The real lesson from this is to ALWAYS BE YOURSELF. Enjoy being you at every moment without trying to impress too much. It means others know what they are getting, whether they like it or not, and as soon as possible, which should have far fewer disappointments in expectations further down the line.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2012
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Happiness is a state of being. We are the ones who decide whether we wish to be happy or not, by the script we use inside our heads."