Pretending for the sake of a relationship or to attract a partner is a bad, bad idea. It disrespects yourself and your (potential) partner. Why aren’t you good enough just the way you are? Do you really want to keep up this charade for the duration of your relationship? If you are pretending to be someone else or to like things that you don’t in an effort to please someone else, how can you expect to find a good fitting relationship? A good fit only happens when you both own who you are, just as you are.
I remember meeting a couple, in their early 50s, who had recently married. Second marriage for her and first for him. We were on their boat on the Napa river. I was drinking wine and enjoying the view, while others were waterskiing. When the new wife emerged from the water dipping wet but trying to look glam and asked me why I didn’t want to ski I replied because it wasn’t really my “thing”. She gave me a knowing nod and whisper-shared that she only did it to “make [husband] happy and keep him interested in me”. Wow, 50+ and still willing to go to extremes like that to attract or keep a partner? I’m not saying I never did any pretending; I’ve “tried” snow skiing when I already had lots of experience hating it. Or gone camping to please a partner when what I really prefer is fancy hotels, ideally with a pool and spa. But this incident was a turning point for me.
I realized pretending was hurting me and I was ready to stop. I didn’t go cold turkey, but over time I gradually gave up pretending to like stuff, even when it was uncomfortable. I embraced my own likes, wants, needs and desires more fully. I ceased thinking of these compromises as merely the cost of having a relationship and saw them more clear-eyed for what they really are: compromising myself. Losing myself. Not being true to myself. Not being comfortable with who I really am at my core. Now I am almost militant and brutally honest about owning my likes/dislikes. I don’t shine people on anymore and I don’t say yes to activities or spending time with people I don’t love. That’s not how I want to spend my time so I don’t. I rarely pretend anymore.
Except maybe occasionally for my mom. Or my kids (riding ATVs in Mexico to make my son’s face light up like Christmas or enduring endless shopping trips with my daughter because I enjoy just being around her). And it feels good. More honest. Honors myself. I feel strong and sure. And I found a wonderful husband who likes me for who I am because I was not afraid to show him who I really am. No pretending necessary.