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“When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong”: How Real Should You Be When Getting to Know Someone?

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac)
Fluoxetine HCL (also known as Prozac) should not be first date topic...ever. Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t among the millions who religiously watched the Chappelle Show when it aired on Comedy Central (as a matter of fact, my first exposure to this show was when my line sisters wanted to perform a spoof from the show, the R. Kelly “Pee on You” skit). I had heard about his impressions of Rick James and Prince, but until I started dating Mr. P., I’d never heard of a skit called “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong” (at least that’s what I think it’s called). In this skit, a Black person is in a situation where they have two choices: to be politically correct or to “keep it real.” Inevitably, the keep it real; equally inevitably, comedic tragedy ensues.

While this is funny on TV, it’s not as funny when you’re the one out on a date with this person, or worse, you are this person and don’t know why you never have second dates. It’s one thing to be authentic and another to be too real in the dating world. There are just some things that can be left to a later time than the getting to know you stage. It’s OK to decide if you like someone before you go divulging where the good china is kept. A little mystery is not deceit or subterfuge; it’s good breeding and strategy.

Thinking over authenticity and “being real” in the getting to know you stage, I’ve identified a few key areas you may want to hold off on discussing until a later date:

  • Desperation Station: Even if you are thirty-two and your window is closing, I’d advise you not to mention how eager you are to get married and have a dozen children over the appetizers. Even if you are speaking generally, he may sense he’s been evaluated and deemed suitable to help spawn these dozen kids in connubial bliss, decide you’re desperate, and leave as quickly as possible. Wanting a family someday is fine, but stating “I want to be married in a year and pregnant in two” might send the wrong message. (Note: thirty-two is a completely arbitrary number; I’m in no way implying all thirty-two year old women are “thirsty.”)
  • The Ghosts of Boyfriends/Husbands Past: The first date is not the time to chronicle how horrible all of your exes are. Bad mouthing them may reflect negatively on you (especially if there happens to be a string of “no account losers” who “don’t take care of their children” in your past). Too many, and he thinks maybe it’s you. What are you doing that you are attracting these types of men? Is one of them crazy? Is that one over there?
  • I took my pill today so I’m straight: You may not want to lead with stories of all the freaky sneaky stuff you like to do (and shame on you for being freaky sneaky, LOL) even if you are including your date in the proposed activities. He may start to think, what kind of woman is this? While upon first reflection he may be interested in finding out about your naughty side, eventually he’s going to wonder if it’s always this easy. How many other men have been sitting across from her in this scenario? Is she this free with every man? Either you’re a hook up or a potential long term deal. I’m just saying, don’t let new age feminism make you come off as loose.
  • I took my pill today, so I’m straight (2): Your appreciation for what Prozac has done for your life is wonderful. The fact that psychotropic meds have made it possible for you to function in normal interactions should be applauded. The fact that you no longer hear the voices is a major breakthrough; I thoroughly agree. But maybe you might want to wait until you both like each other before you sing the psychiatric field’s praises.
  • Can You Pay My Bills?: Money is very important in relationships. It’s important to be honest with a potential life partner about your financial situation. You are entitled to know what debt you would be acquiring. Their annual income and spending habits are good to know if you plan on combining incomes. Whether or not they pay their child support may reveal something of their integrity. But these things are important in committed relationships and shouldn’t be discussed with just anybody. The most you need to know on the first date is whether or not you’re going dutch.
  • My baby needs a daddy: Do not utter this sentence anywhere near a first date. That is all.
  • I Need a Man to Take Care of Me: Do I really need to explain this one?

What should you “keep it real” about on a first date?

  • That Picture is of Me…in 1985: If you online date, please keep up an accurate picture of yourself. Using a picture that is years old is misrepresentation. I personally have a pet peeve of people cropping former significant others out of pictures; you don’t have one of you that’s nice and S.O. free?
  • State your real age.
  • Be honest about your interests. Don’t fake interest in his/her interests.
  • Be honest about your kids. If they ask whether or not you have kids, tell the truth.
  • State your actual job. Career aspirations and dreams can be mentioned, but should not be stated as if they are real occupations. If you have not had a photo in a magazine or catalog or walked anyone’s catwalk, you are not a model. If you have not made any money from the sell of your music, you are not a rapper/ producer. I mean this in the occupational sense. You can continue being anything you want to be in your head. If you don’t make money from it, it’s a hobby (harsh, but true…hence why I like to write but am not a writer).
  • Be honest about your expectations. If you aren’t looking for a committed monogamous relationship, say so. If you aren’t interested in casual dating, say so. No, don’t say you’re looking to get married in a year (see above), but make your intentions and expectations known.
  • Be honest about chemistry. If you are feeling a friend vibe, by all means, don’t lead anyone to believe it’s more than that. If the attraction is not there after a few nice dates and chances for it to grow, cut romantic ties.

The bottom line for me is to be authentic without being desperate or too personal before you decide if you even like this person. There’s nothing wrong with having layers and being a little mysterious. Leave something to his/her imagination, something new to discover as the relationship strengthens. Don’t hit anyone with all of your faults or attempt to blind them with every achievement you have. As Emily Dickinson wrote, “the truth must dazzle gradually/ Or every man be blind.”

I’ve given my opinion. Leave your two cents in the comments section.

3 thoughts on ““When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong”: How Real Should You Be When Getting to Know Someone?

  1. I love that line – As Emily Dickinson wrote, “Love must dazzle gradually/ Or every man be blind.”

    1. Actually, Emily Dickinson actually said “the truth must dazzle gradually/ Or every man be blind.” I misquoted…mostly on purpose…but the truth is more apt for this post, so maybe I should fix it?

  2. Truth and love are dependent on each other and your comment should be correction enough.

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