Faking it

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I heard my upstairs neighbor faking it recently.

Well, not my upstairs neighbor exactly, but the girl he brought home.

How could I hear? Well I live on the bottom floor of a old four-plex in east Dallas. The walls are thin. But this was the only the first time in nearly a year that I’ve heard the raucous cries of a woman having sex. And I’m fairly sure the gentleman above has taken home quite a few lady friends.

How do I know she was faking? Well to be fair, I suppose I don’t know for sure. But as a woman who’s faked before (um, haven’t we all?), I feel quite sure she was faking something … maybe not the orgasm, but certainly how excited she was. Let’s just say the vocals were quite animated … like cartoon-level animated.

Why all the hullabaloo?

Maybe she’s a girl hoping that with her vocal acrobatics that she could convince the man she’s with that she’s this enthusiastic during sex, always, and therefore he should keep seeing her? Maybe she’s trying to convince herself of how good the sex is? Hell, maybe the sex really IS cartoon-voice-animated good? If so, lucky girl.

Or maybe she learned to over-exaggerate during sex a long time ago and now it’s so ingrained her that it’s just an auto response?

Whatever her reason, I (and my three glasses of wine) had a grand ole time listening.

And it got me to thinking … how much are we willing to ‘fake’ in life in order to get what we think we want? Especially with regards to relationships and dating but also our personal lives in general?

The Dating Fake-outs

Dating these days is rough. Rough. It’s honestly tricky to even secure a date. The online environment makes it easier to approach someone, but harder to transition from chatting to an actual date. And meeting someone while out is just as much of a crap-shoot.

One single male friend of mine had a habit of ‘faking it’ to get a date. When he met his now ex-girlfriend he lied and shaved off a solid 6 years, fearful that if he told the truth she wouldn’t be interested. He’d run into that before, he said. He also further lied about his living situation. He was embarrassed to admit he was newly divorced and living with a friend at the time. The truth later came out and they still dated for nearly two years – but still, why lie at all? Has modern dating gotten so cutthroat we feel we must lie and deceive to attract the opposite sex?

Another male friend of mine recently connected with a girl online and they began chatting through her instagram account. For a guy who rarely dates, he was actually excited at the thought of meeting her. He sent me her insta story a few days before they met to see if I approved. I was blown away. This girl was stunning! And seemed funny and smart too.

When he went to meet her in person, I fully expected him to be gushing to me about how beautiful and wonderful she was. But apparently this girl was also ‘faking it’ – her pics and her stories were highly filtered to the point she was almost unrecognizable in person.

They still got along and had a decent time, but he was ultimately turned off by the fact that her online persona was a hyped up, glossed over version of herself and seemed almost entirely fake. It confused him and made him hesitant to pursue her further.

But this all brings up an interesting subject of truth vs reality. When dating and in the early stages of a relationship, you present your best self. It’s like your resume. All the wonderful things you know you can contribute to a relationship. All the reasons they should buy the product (me). I dress up, put on my favorite shade of lipstick, don my most attractive pair of heels and I smell divine. And this is acceptable, even encouraged behavior.

But the reality is, in the morning my breath is awful, my skin is flushed and my eyes are crusty. Yes, in time, whoever I get serious with will know these things.  And he’ll either still be super ecstatic about seeing me, because he’ll know my worth regardless of my disheveled morning self … or he’ll decide that nope, I only prefer it when you’re dolled up and minty fresh. So am I actually just ‘faking it’ in the beginning? Is this tantamount to lying?

I do love to get dolled up, date or no date, so it’s not like it’s an inaccurate representation of myself to do those things. Whatever happens though, the un-dolled me is what he will be waking up beside and spending his time with. So better for the makeup to come off and the reality to hit sooner rather than later right?

Which leads me to another type of dating fake-out. The guy I recently wrote about, who was pushing for serious before he confessed he still wasn’t over his ex, was also ‘faking it’. Not intentionally, I don’t believe, but still he was trying to convince me (and himself) that he was ready for a serious relationship when the reality was he wasn’t over his ex. He was attempting to ‘fake it’ till he made it I believe, but isn’t that a very dangerous emotional game to play?

And that’s the thing, if it’s not real love, if he’s not the one, better to find out now then waste your time being temporarily comforted by a facsimile.

Beware the fakers.

 

The Personal Fakes

I wonder if the insta-filtered girl my friend met up with saw her online presence as an extension of what is widely accepted dating behavior – the act of presenting your best self. Is she really so far off from what most of us do when dating initially?

A part of me can deeply sympathize with where this girl was coming from.

In our social media driven world, so much of what is real is being lost. It all started out harmless. A way to connect with old friends and make new ones. And of course, don’t post an ugly or unflattering photo because like … why would you, right? But now it’s turned even more dangerous. Filters (which I confess I love) and highlights and everything set up to make us look like we’re on top of the world.

I fully admit I partake in this. 100%. I don’t always filter my pics, but I sure as hell make sure I like them before I post them.

In addition, I recently got into the habit of wearing false eyelashes and I adore them. I don’t wear them during the day, only at night, but it was around the fourth date with a man I was seeing when I realized he had only witnessed me in these ‘falsies’. And then I had a moment of, shit shit fuck, what if he doesn’t just like my eyes as they are? With my less full, shorter eyelashes?

It’s a silly reason to not like someone and it was a silly insecurity to work through (spoiler: he liked my normal eyes just fine) but it made me realize that even having one tiny part of myself that is false, kinda feels like a lie vs just being an enhancement.

I love that Instagram and Facebook allow me to post pictures and videos of moments in my life. I love looking back over them and remembering what experiences I was having and what things were going on in my life when I took the picture or posted the story. Quite frankly, I love that they have basically unlimited storage because my phone is in a constant state of chaos, but that’s a whole other thing.

However I will whole-heartedly admit to feeling insecure at times about things I post, most especially with pictures. I am fairly photogenic but there is always that random group pic that everyone else looks good in but I despise because of some nightmarish face I’m accidentally making. It gets posted, I get tagged and then feel that pang of oh god, is that what I look like? Does everyone think I’m hideous now? Wait … AM I ACTUALLY HIDEOUS?? I confess to untagging myself on those occasions. And most people would say that’s totally normal … but … is it?

Is this the new normal for all of us? Where we filter out our less-than-attractive pics, lying about the parts we’re worried might get rejected … only presenting the versions of ourselves we’re most proud of? Are we all guilty of ‘faking it’ to some degree?

Even though I love them … the filters and the falsies … I constantly have to ask myself, are they good for me? Or do they actually end up altering the view I have of myself when, say, I look in the all-too-real, unfiltered mirror?

For now, it hasn’t and doesn’t. I still like the real me I see in the mirror very much. And I occasionally like to enhance what I have because why the hell not? But I also know it’s a very dangerous game we’re all playing.

It can be easy to start faking even yourself out.

 

The Relationship Fakers

And it isn’t just us single and dating folks guilty of a little filtering and faking it. Social media is equally as damaging to those in relationships.

There are countless articles and studies out there (just google ‘em)  that suggest that posting about your loved ones, especially your significant other, can threaten the health of your relationship. And yet, isn’t it what we see non-stop? Someone is in a relationship and must alert the masses be it via a relationship status update or a profile pic change or an Insta post boasting about how lucky and in love they are. I’ve actually witnessed a woman complaining on social media about their significant other NOT being on social media because she wanted him to post sweet things about her.

Um, I guess it’s the modern equivalent of not buying flowers for an anniversary?

I’m not saying this is inherently wrong, just dangerous. Especially because on the flip side, most people don’t post about the underbelly of their relationship. The times you feel distant, lonely … disconnected. The times when you’re both asshats. And it never fails to shock me (though it’s starting to shock me less) when a couple known for posting about how in love they are, break up in some dramatic fashion. Maybe it scares us all a little. If they weren’t completely telling the truth, if they weren’t in love, then what does that mean for the rest of us?

I have been guilty of being the person ‘faking it’ in a relationship and I know just how painful that can be. Luckily me and my partner weren’t on social media that much back then, but still, I often felt I had to ‘fake’ being in a happy, healthy marriage .. maybe for myself to believe it. ‘How are things with you and J?’ ‘Good. Great! Marriage is great.’ etc. etc. All that ‘faking it’ made me feel trapped. We had lists and lists of problems neither one of us were really willing to face. Honestly, maybe neither of us wanted to truly acknowledge our issues, because then we’d have to admit we’d made a mistake staying together for so long.

We had become content in our discontent, resolved to stick it out because that’s what people in a ‘successful’ relationship/marriage do. But we were miserable. I can’t imagine how much harder it would’ve been to make the choice to leave if I had been bound to a public impression of my relationship via social media. I had my close friends and family I was worried about letting down and it still hurt to do that, but if I had been boasting publicly online about the love we shared, I know it would’ve been even harder to have to explain why, in fact, we were not going to make it. I would’ve felt like even more of a failure.

It makes me wonder .. how many people are in that same situation? It’s so very hard to know when to keep plugging at a relationship and when to throw in the towel. But add to that the pressure of hundreds of your closest (and not closest) friends and family members being notified, I wonder if more people don’t cite that as a pressure for staying together?

Do you have to ‘fake’ being in love for social media? Do you have to post about every high moment in order to feel like you’re even in a relationship at all? Doesn’t the pressure to be perfect inevitably break you down?

And the same goes for single people wanting to live their #bestlife. It begs the question … how much are we all faking in order to prove we’re happy? Is a momentary acceptance more important than being authentic? Are we becoming dependent on instagram likes for emotional validation?

And what other things are we faking? Besides the pictures, the filters, the relationship untruths? Like the girl above me and her high-pitched hollers .. is she faking more than just an orgasm?

These are the questions I’m asking myself right now. These are the questions we should likely all be asking ourselves right now. In the end, I think filters and falsies are fun, I think having a place to store your memories is wonderful, but I know I must remind myself of what’s really going on emotionally. I must always take a hard look at the things I’m not posting, the things I’m not ready to share and I must keep my reality very, very close.

In the end, I want the real thing and I want to be the real thing. I want to be loved for who I really am and love someone for who they really are. Not all the right words and the right charm and everything wonderful on the surface, only to discover they were maybe faking it themselves. That maybe we both were. That maybe we were just filtered, hash-tagged versions of ourselves looking for a like and some validation.

Real beats fake. #Always.

 

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