With the first date audition, I am constantly reminded of the Billy Joel lyric that “she only reveals what she wants you to see.” We can easily substitute pronouns here; Billy could have used “he” just as easily as “she.”
We know we are witty, but not that clever. We are polite, but never this chivalrous. We might be careful with our words, but we are not above profanity. We do not show our whole, authentic selves because we are on the audition, the first date.
I am constantly struggling to advise clients whether this lack of authenticity is a sign of insecurity or guile at its worst by the other person, but I am convinced that humans are more layered than drinks for 45 minutes at a lounge could ever reveal.
The derivation of TMI (“too much information”) is likely a vestige of what parents or mentors taught us. Protect yourself from strangers. Protect your social security number. This notion of revealing less, however, is not a 21st century phenomenon–TMI can be found in the words of our first president.
George Washington, the subject of a famous honesty parable for admitting to cutting down the cherry tree, wrote the following: “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” The ultimate truth teller still protected himself.
Not for nothing, but did George attract Martha because he was austere and distant? Or was it that George was evaluating when it was appropriate to give Martha his confidences? And what is it about the distant that we find so attractive?
Intellectually, we know we’re going to figure out the other as much as we can, to the extent that we can, over time. But the initial mystery remains completely attractive. So our advice is to be patient above all else, and know that time will peel away the layers.