Have you ever sat in a restaurant and noticed a couple on their first date? It’s obvious because they are on their best behavior. They are poised with flirtatious smiles, fully engaged, smoothing their napkin and checking their teeth while the other person visits the restroom. In the early dating period, we all have stories of doing things outside of our comfort zone with a wide smile that says “I’m willing to love this and see where it goes” even when it means facing your fear of heights, water, snakes and roller coasters. (Relationship people, don’t you miss those good old days?)
In the beginning we are dating in conscious mode – we are focused and paying attention to every detail, adapting to our date’s personality, watching for their cues and trying to please. We make the conscious effort to position ourselves so our date can see our best side and lean forward enthusiastically to engage in their stories. It’s as if life is in slow motion and we are present to everything that is happening; acutely aware of how we are being perceived by the person in front of us.
Why does this happen and where does all of the attention, compromise and willingness come from? And more importantly, where does it all go when we pass the “test phase” and feel settled in the relationship?
Best behavior dating is grounded in the unanswerable subconscious question: “Am I enough for you?”
This question is often below our awareness but it propels us to spend our entire dating “test phase” in proving that we are indeed:
Essentially – “perfect enough” to dazzle our date into falling deeply, madly and permanently in love with us.
The core belief “I am not enough” is one of the 7 subconscious beliefs that sabotages our relationships and our lives. We may not think this is what we believe, but when we are triggered, this mind program from early childhood is activated and determines how we feel and ourselves fuels our actions.
Both parties get caught up in best behavior dating which means that everyone is guilty of “making believe” that their “best self” can handle anything. This sets a precedent that is virtually impossible to uphold and becomes an obstacle to longevity. Who are you really? Do you even know?
All of this to say that who we are dating when they are on their best behaviour is not the one we will end up with. The unfortunate thing is that we often make commitments based on the assumption that this is the way things will always be, only to be surprised that the person we fell for actually does not like to spend Sundays at the art gallery or watching football. For some people, when they do prove they are “enough” and can see that the target date has been “won over”, the “part” of them that knows this behavior is unsustainable takes over and they lose interest and feel the need to move on.
What Are the Options?
Exhausting Option A – Always “on”. Extend the first date fantasy phase as long as you possibly can. Enjoy the willingness to be the perfect date and the excitement of being the chameleon that says “anything is possible”.
Healthy Option B – Be your true self as quickly as possible and take a deep breath and risk, risk, risk. Be totally honest with yourself, the one you are dating and about everything that is happening. Enjoy venturing out of your comfort zone but make sure that in the end your date likes you (or doesn’t like you) for who you are so you don’t have to break the “bad news” later.
Being your true self lets the other person off the hook and encourages them to be more transparent also.
If you notice that you are a best behaviour dater and a master – first impressionist with an inner drive to prove yourself, you are in danger of sabotaging the love that you deserve. Be courageous and do the work to discover what is UnderMind to accelerate the learning curve. You will get a faster read on whether you are with the right one before you get so invested and enjoy better, more authentic results in your relationships!