The beginning of every relationship is bliss. You’re giddy with laughter and new love, enjoy spending time together and spend countless hours making sure you’re putting your best face forward. The reality is, however, that there’s only so long that you can keep up that ‘perfect’ image. At some point the real you has to come out and all the little things you’ve been trying to hide need to come out of the closet, so you can be accepted for who you truly are –the good, the bad and the awkward.
Now when I say let the “real” you out, I’m not talking about changing who you are or how you live. (Let’s hope you’ve been real with your partner the real version of that from the very beginning.) I’m talking about the real you that wears a silk bonnet at night to keep the moisture in her two-strand twists, the real you who keeps a slightly messy apartment that bae never gets to see because you clean from the ceiling to the baseboards every time he says he’s on his way, or the real you that uses the bathroom in a way that requires air freshener, baby wipes and a Martin You So Crazy quote when you’re done. When does your partner get to see that you?
For most men, the real them comes out almost from the very beginning. They will burp, fart, snore and wear smelly socks around you on date number two and all at the same time. Mr. Magic and I have only been seeing each other for a couple of months and I’ve already had the pleasure of passing him the baby wipes and avoiding the bathroom for an hour or so. On my end, Mr. Magic has seen my trusty headscarf that I’ve had since I was 10, that came out the second time I spent some real time with him, but he still hasn’t seen all the hair I leave in my bathroom sink, what my feet look/feel like when I’ve slacked on my pedi appointment, and there damn sure hasn’t been any passing of the baby wipes. As far as he’s concerned I don’t even pee. Outside of those superficial things, there’s also letting your partner see you when you’re overwhelmed, stressed, emotionally hurt and you don’t have it all the way together. If I’m honest, I’ve had a few days like this since I’ve jumped back into the dating world, but outside of asking for a hug, I haven’t allowed Mr. Magic to see that side of me. We all go through moments like that in life, but when do you let it out, and how do you not look like some hot mess that they need to run from in the process?
Everyone wants to be with someone that makes them feel comfortable enough to be 100% themselves, yet that level of comfort also comes with a level of vulnerability that’s definitely not easy. Allowing that kind of vulnerability involves more concern than just not looking cute in your bonnet, it involves being open and letting someone in deep enough that they get to experience the good, bad and the parts of you that you try hiding even from yourself. It involves letting the walls of your internal castle down and putting the guards at ease, it means letting someone see the perfectly imperfect you and hoping that they still rock with you afterwards.
When do you allow that to happen? After two months or six? Is it a time frame at all? Perhaps you can only keep it funky after your partner displays actions that let you know the time is right, and if so, what do these actions need to be? Most importantly, how do you get over the fear of your imperfection possibly not being perfect enough for them? I guess there is no right or wrong answer for these questions, and one can only keep it funky and real when the time feels right for them. The one thing I have learned from past experiences is that the sooner you do it, the better. Not only does keeping up false appearances drain you emotionally, but the longer you wait to show the true you, the more susceptible you become to hurt. Not hurt from your partner not accepting who you truly are, but hurt from watching them pull away from the stranger you’ve put in place of the imaginary person they’ve fallen in love with. Weave or bonnet wearer, messy apartment keeper, stressed and teary mess, all these people are you and even in their imperfection, there is no one better to be on this planet than yourself. Anyone who can’t appreciate that wasn’t meant for you anyway. And that’s keeping it real.
Danielle T. Pointdujour is a Brooklynite living the passport life to the fullest. With over 70 countries under her belt, you can always find Danielle traveling the globe in search of new experiences and the hottest luxury hotels. You can follow her writing, musings and global adventures on her blog Hotel Whisperer and on Twitter and Instagram.