Light Up Or Leave Me Alone

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We are all just human. Each of us has our own set of character flaws or character defects. There are many people that wear masks, if you will, and they wear different ones for different people. There seems to be this mystification of projecting the “right” image to prospects in the dating world. Lets be honest, do you really want to attract a member of the opposite sex (or whatever your sexual preference might be) by projecting a fantasy that Don Juan couldn’t live up to? You can’t keep it up forever, and even if you could, it’s not real! This applies to many smokers out there as well; especially those that are involved in the dating scene. Smoking seems to be one of those “red flags” or “character flaws” we would just as soon not publicize to our field of potential significant partners, at least in the beginning. So many of us feel as though we are being forced to be dishonest about our smoking just to be considered as a possibility in the eyes of that “perfect match”. The question here is; do you want to misrepresent whom you are and what you do just to get a date? Many people might answer this question with a resounding “yes”; I want to project a fantasy that will attract the “perfect match” for me. The thinking here is similar to the door-to-door salesman that just wants to get his foot in the door and have the opportunity to sell his wares. This might work to some extent for selling widgets, but experience has taught me that there is one valued commodity that is absolutely imperative to form a successful relationship: Honesty. In order to be honest with another, you must first be honest with yourself. This is not as easy a task as it sounds for many people. According to the Freudian Conflict Theory in personality, we have “id”, “ego” and “superego” all busy at work within our psyche. All jockey for position to dominate our thinking. Thus, our behavior is directly affected in various ways at different times and in different situations. The “id” operates within our psyche on the basis of pleasure only. It is childlike in many ways, and according to the theory, it is the driving force behind pleasure seeking. The superego is the morality or moral guidance barometer of the psyche. This mostly comes from what we have been taught is morally right or wrong. However, there is an innate conscience component of the superego that is theoretically not governed by what we have been taught. Then there is the ego; that self image that we project to the outside world. The ego creates a balance between id and superego. It saves us from being victims of our own pleasure. It is, in essence, the caretaker of the id and the superego. As they each have different goals, they are constantly in conflict with each other. This sounds like a real mess. In many ways it certainly seems so. A “normal” person is full of conflict about themselves and who they really are. The theory makes it sound like we are all egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. What does all this have to do with honesty? Well it all comes down to perceptions. That is, our own self-perception and the perception of others. We have a tendency to make comparisons of our inner self with what we perceive to be the ideal self. Or we may compare ourselves to others. In so doing, we may intentionally misrepresent our actual self as our ideal self. Or, we may just flat out lie about who we are and squelch the guilt. As a smoker, I’ve been taught that smoking is wrong. It is unhealthy, it is smelly, it is unattractive to the opposite sex, etc., etc. The list goes on forever, and frankly, I’m tired of hearing it. I’ve come to grips with my smoking. Even though it isn’t something I am proud of, it is a part of who I am. If I were to quit smoking, then that would be a part of who I am at that time. I don’t make excuses for being me and I don’t apologize for it. Years ago when I signed up for a couple of free dating sites, I filled in the profile information and hesitated when it asked if I were a smoker. I put down “no” even though it wasn’t true. Sure, I got matched up with a wonderful person, but I couldn’t enjoy any of it. I was so preoccupied with the fact that I couldn’t smoke (which made me want to smoke even more) and the fact that I was already being dishonest with this person that I couldn’t focus on just relaxing and having a good time. There was something odd about her behavior too. Sure, she was nervous, but I felt it was something more than that. She was holding back way too much. There was this “wall” between us. I didn’t know why at the time. I figured we were just incompatible and never called her. By chance, I saw her again several years after our first and only date. She told me that she was a smoker at the time, and had lied on her profile. We had a good laugh about it when she found out that I was guilty of the very same thing. Had we not both misrepresented ourselves and had then been matched up, who knows how far it might have gone? It’s life-lessons like these that have brought me full circle to being honest with myself. There are many more people out there just like me. These are the ones who have come to terms with the dishonesty of it all. Many of them have chosen to throw away the masks they wear for others and just be themselves. This works well, especially when tempered with some common sense. After all, there is no reason to be so blatantly honest about meaningless things that may hurt someone’s feelings. Being honest doesn’t mean you have to be cruel. Recently I signed up at one of the newer free dating sites that specializes in matching up smokers, I was surprised how many there are, and how many hits I got right away. My new profile states: I am who I am. I am a smoker. So either light up or leave me alone.

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