(Or “The lost art of creative obfuscation.”)

Dear Feeling Deceived,

I guess that depends on what the definition of “deceived” is.

Getting to the heart of the matter, we are talking about not presenting ourselves as we really are. Are things black and white (to lie or not to lie) or are we in one of those nefarious shades of gray areas? Let’s see.

Hopefully Joe Millionaire is nothing but a distant, bad memory – a hemorrhoid on the perfect butt of the television landscape. You know that I hate to fight with television (and I have come to terms with the idea of reality television), however, this aberration does allow me the opportunity to point to deception in dating taken to the extreme. If you don’t remember the premise, a guy is presented as having inherited $50 million dollars–which he doesn’t have–and 50 would-be gold digging women–who don’t know that he doesn’t really have it–compete for his affection. Again, exploitive, tawdry reality television that, like many a bad train wreck, too many people felt compelled to watch, thus dooming us to a Joe Millionaire II. He, mind you, not the brightest bulb in the world, does in a moment of something approximating contrition, lament the fact that he finds it difficult to date (read: bed) a woman under such false pretenses. Even as he’s sticking his tongue down as many of their throats as possible. This situation exemplifies three things: 1) the idea of dating under false pretenses; 2) presenting an image that we can’t live up to; and 3) women, in this case, getting to know a false presentation rather than the real guy. He can say what he wants, but should he find himself in a relationship later, he would be hard pressed to say that he’s an honest or honorable guy.

There are self-created cases of deception. Many times we find ourselves dating idealized people, but who did the actual idealizing? We did. Let me give you an example: you go out with person A, an amiable enough person with a lot of the qualities that you look for in a person. In between dates, the times when you are actually getting to know the person, you do what any normal person does: think about them. You have the two of you in various situations, having conversations, laughing, loving, and what have you … but all in your imagination. At some point during the course of your dating relationship you feel a sense of dissatisfaction. Maybe you realize it is because the person you are actually dating is not the person you think you are dating; maybe you aren’t that deep and you just say “this ain’t working out” and dump them.

But that’s not what we’re talking about.

Let’s define what we are talking about. First date “airs” is not deception. First date “airs” are the equivalent of salesmanship, after all, you have a product that you are interested in pitching or selling or at least renting out for a few occasions: you. There is nothing wrong with putting the best spin possible on your lousy personality. First dates are, have always been and will always be, about putting your best foot forward, after all, as the cliche goes, you only get one time to make a good first impression. A lousy first impression pretty much guarantees no second impression. You aren’t deceiving by omission by not revealing your every quirk on the first date. A quirk or two revealed might not be bad, in literature this is referred to as foreshadowing. Let me tell you, how a person tends to react behind the wheel in traffic is probably what you will be seeing during your first argument.

People have many facets to their personality. One or two dates aren’t meant to be examinations or revelations of all of them. Dating is about the gradual process of getting to know them.

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