One of the things I pride myself on in my love and sex lives is my unflinching honesty. I spent a good deal of my early 20s lying through my teeth in order to please men. I told them sex felt great when it just felt so-so. I’ve faked orgasms. I acted charmed by personality traits that made me want to walk directly into traffic. I even went out with a dude who unironically wore a fedora every day of his life, even though I wanted to rip the dumb fucking thing off his head and scream YOU ARE NOT JACK KEROUAC in his face.
But with the wisdom of age comes a lack of filter, and I no longer suffer terrible sex or bad fedoras silently. I’m honest to a fault.
Or, at least, I thought I was until about a month ago. I found myself on a date with a man who asked me a pretty simple question: “What do you like to do for fun?” Now this is a truly terrible question when it comes to dating, because no one is doing anything ultra-fun with regularity. Sure, I travel, I see movies, and I go to brunch with my friends so often that I’m practically a walking New York Times opinion piece about millennials and avocado toast. But the majority of my time is not spent doing fun things. It’s spent scrolling through Instagram, looking at the menus of restaurants I plan to eat at, and trying to keep myself awake past 10 p.m. because apparently I’m 28 going on 88.
But that isn’t sexy, right? So I did what all of you people also do. I lied. I waxed on about my love of reading. (It takes me at least a month to finish a book that should take me a week to read.) I talked about my love of French film. (I watched Amelie every day in college, but that’s about it.) And I talked up my love of cooking. (Partially true—I love to cook. But my default is Seamless. I’m busy. Don’t tell my Italian mother.)
The first few dates are the equivalent to job interviews. You put your best foot forward. You say that you know how to use Microsoft Excel.
Now I didn’t lie about anything huge. I doubt that a dude is going to dump me because my go-to recipe on a weeknight is a quesadilla on a whole wheat tortilla that I can whip up while partially high. (And if he does, then good riddance. My quesadillas are bomb.) But I fudged the truth to make myself more interesting—and it’s something I’m realizing we all do when we’re in the early throes of a relationship.
Go ahead and take a scroll through your dating profile. I’m sure that there are some parts of that manifesto that are completely true. But the majority of the statements there are massaged versions of the truth. Just because you tried pickled jellyfish at that Chinese restaurant once doesn’t mean you’re an “adventurous eater.” I can’t tell you how many men have claimed to hate reality TV, but then fall head-over-heels with my Vanderpump Rules-watching ass, even going so far as to suggest we watch it when we’re hungover and ordering pancakes.
I can’t hate the white lies. They point to our desperate need for connection—a need so human that it’s universal among us all.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It just points to a fact that I’ve been harping on since I started writing about sex: The first few dates are the equivalent to job interviews. You put your best foot forward. You say that you know how to use Microsoft Excel. You charm the pants off of the person across from you so that you’ll get a second interview, and then a third. And then, once you’ve signed your offer letter and have locked down an SO, the real truth comes out. Sure, you eat healthy pretty much most of the time. But if you’re drunk and it’s 2 a.m., you’re eating a Big Mac, pal. Just admit it!
But it’s this discovery, the uncovering of the slight bullshit, that I find to be the most entertaining part about the early days of a relationship. I like figuring out the small ways in which a potential suitor has lied in order to impress me. The white lies on our dating profiles point to the fact that we’re human, and that all we want is for someone to look at our profile and say that is someone I’d like to get to know. So I can’t hate the white lies. In fact, I love them. They point to our desperate need for connection—a need so human that it’s universal among us all. The key is to find someone whose white lies you love, and who loves yours back. But I will never again lie about loving a fedora. That, my friends, is the truth.