46% of men and 36% of women admitted that they have told at least one lie to initiate a date with someone they considered attractive.

Granted, we all know that people lie to get dates. They especially seem to lie on internet dating sites.

But lying is much more widespread. One study actually reports that people say they lie in about 25% of all of their everyday interactions.

And that tells us that many people feel regular pressure to present themselves in a way that they believe will impress others while at the same time fearing that showing who they really are just isn’t enough. This is true whether one is in a work environment, at home, or at play.

We can talk about low self images here. Or we can talk about the exaggerated image expectations that our modern consumerist society places on people. The two are really intertwined

That’s why the most common reasons given to explain everyday deceptions are to protect oneself from embarrassment, disgrace, or emotional hurt. Another study agrees that people engage in deceptive acts when they feel that it’s difficult or even impossible to meet the expectations of another party by just being honest.

If we meet a perfectionist or someone who seems staunchly unforgiving, our guard is up: it’s hard to maintain a relationship through honesty. It’s easier to avoid that person than to put the energy such relationships take into them.

So many of our dominant everyday interactions feel so potentially critical that there actually become few places where we can be ourselves. In the workplace we’re always ready for the critical review – reporting and evaluating employees is a major part of Human Resources management culture today, taking up increasingly more time.

And with management styles that are praised to the extent that they cut costs – the largest of which is employee compensation – there’s more pressure to look busy, competent and successful than ever. That pressure becomes hard to shake off when we leave the place we spend most of our waking lives.

When it comes to our friendships, though, we’d question any relationships that required us be on-guard constantly and to maintain it with exaggeration, deception, or highly selective revelation of ourselves. We might have some acquaintances that require that, but the measure of friendship is that our close friends accept us warts and all.

They are not high-maintenance We don’t have to monitor ourselves around them. They just accept us and our quirks.

But when we turn to trying to “attract” someone who will consider us for a date, all of that openness and honesty can easily become compromised. The uncertainty about being accepted or rejected alongside the desire to date someone whom others too consider “attractive” can easily pressure us to move beyond open honesty in order to get positive results.

Another study found that 46% of men and 36% of women admitted that they have told at least one lie to initiate a date with someone they considered attractive. Yet another broke the lies down by gender.

Men reported that they were more likely to feign commitment, sincerity, and earning ability to attract a mate, while women reported that they were more likely to enhance their appearance. Both genders similarly admitted faking it with improved clothing, deceptive sexual intentions, feigned interest in the other’s interests, lies about third parties, and more positive self-presentations than those with which they felt more comfortable.

There are two sides to this. One is taking care to remember that others might be misrepresenting themselves in numerous ways to us.

The second is asking ourselves how we are really compromising our honesty in order to attract someone with whom we ultimately hope we can be fully open. Being ourselves becomes a radical idea that’s talked about but often compromised.

And that compromise comes out of fear, maybe something as daunting as: unless we adjust the impression we make on others we will end up alone forever. If failure to fake it meant our friends would leave us, we’d be surprised, but we sure seem to compromise differently when we’re looking for a date, don’t we?

Contributed by

Bob Minor

University of Kansas
Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies
A national resource for information on gender issues and gay/straight relationships for organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and media outlets such as NBC and USA Today, Bob Minor, Ph.D. …

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