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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"Social Phoniness."

I'm not going to sit here typing this and try to convince you that what I call, "Social Phoniness" doesn't apply to me, because it does. I believe it applies to everyone to some degree or another. Social phoniness, as I call it, is the way we adapt our behavior around other people in new situations or surroundings. It applies to any situation where we either change ourselves to suit a situation or hold back from showing our true selves. Now this can mean dressing a specific way for an occasion (Like a wedding), or refraining from calling someone an idiot in a social setting etc. I'm sure there's a real term for this that Sociologists use, but I'll stick with this one for the time being. Oh, and one more thing I should mention before I continue, although social phoniness has a negative connotation to it, I don't necessarily mean it that way. It's just a phrase I use, although yes, it can be negative as well.

So now that you have an idea what I mean by social phoniness, let's look at how it pertains to the dating world.

I'm out with some friends one night at a Manhattan bar yapping away and having a good time. I, as I often do, notice my surroundings and the happenings of others and the time they're having as well. The table next to us has three ladies, all good looking and well dressed. Two other ladies came inside the place and joined the other ladies. One of the ladies that had arrived seemed to know all three of the ladies at the table, while the other arrival was introduced to the others. She was obviously the new girl.

After a while, a guy comes over to their table, introduces himself and offers new girl a drink. She accepts. He asks her if she would like to join him at his table and points to where it is. She says ok, but first she has to go to the restroom.

I had to move my chair so that new girl could get around me to use the rest room. As soon as she was out of ear-shot of the other girls, one of them said, "I think she's a little under dressed for the evening!" to giggles from the other girls. Another girl said, "Yeah, and I wonder what her face looks like without all that make up." To yet more giggles and comments. When new girl returned from the rest room, she was greeted by compliments from the other ladies? Nothing was mentioned to her about her dress attire or her make up. She went to join the guy at his table.

Social phoniness?

Personally, I'm a sweat pants and tee shirt type of guy. I believe that comfort ability should rain supreme. I don't like wearing suits and shoes because, to me, it's not comfortable. If I'm invited to a wedding or out to a nice club where there is a dress code, if it's important to the person or persons that I attend, I will don a suit or wear the shoes, although I won't be comfortable or happy about it. More importantly, if I know ahead of time that a lady I am interested in will be at this event, I will wear the proper attire.

Social phoniness?

How about the guy who brags about his new car or the expensive house he just bought? In a social setting, most of us may want to throw up, but will act interested in his good fortune. Many times we will even engage him in conversation about his car or house as if very interested. I have seen ladies on more than one occasion, where a guy is bragging in this manner to impress them, hang on to every word he says as though it was a commandment. When she is separated from him for a moment, she is telling a friend what a jerk this guy is and she needs intervention.

Social phoniness?

Now, you are going on a blind date and meet the guy at a nice cafe somewhere. Let's say he's a friend of a friend. He shows up in jeans, sneakers and a polo shirt. He is clean and smells nice. What would your first impression be about him?

I read another blog where a lady said she met a guy for a date and the first thing he said was that he forgot his wallet. She wanted to say goodnight right there, but said to him that she had her debit card with her. What would you have done or said?

We all have our limits in social settings to differing degrees, but what interests me is where those limits lie and why. If a guy wants to go "Dutch" on a date, most of the ladies I know say they would do it and have the means to do it as well. In all the conversations I have been involved in about going Dutch, all the ladies seemed cool about it. Yet, after they experienced a guy wanting to go Dutch on a date, it became a negative thing as though the guy was not doing what he was supposed to do.

Social phoniness?

I know there are guidelines, manners and etiquette that we are brought up with and taught as children on how to deal with social situations, but dealing with a possible future partner seems to me to be a more serious situation. So I wonder...

How honest should we be with a possible mate? What realistic limitations should we have? To what degree do we accept social phoniness?


  1. Great topic! I like how you started with the two-faced ladies at the bar! I've seen it so many times before! Sometimes, people can be soo mean. I think we've all been guilty of commiting these acts. A lot of this seem to stem back to jealiousy. The best way to start a new relationship? To be real, but I think there is an acceptable amount of social phoniness. Only because people are scared. They believe that others will not find them interesting or like them if they show their 'real' selves. As for the wallet forgetter, I would have oddly forgotten his phone number after a stunt like that~ I'm kinda sassy tho!

  2. Thank you doubtful dater (Nice name by the way) :)

    I agree with you about jealousy. It seems to spawn so many mean and indignant actions. If it were a disease, it would be the number one killer of relationships.

    I think you hit the nail on the head about people being scared which is a main reason why we tend to adjust our behavior. I think when we get a little too far away from our real selves is when we may incur those road blocks.

    Yeah, I think Mr. "wallet forgetter" would stop being so forgetful if he kept running into sassy ladies ;)

  3. Whew, I'm scared to even try to answer this one! It's such a loaded question.

    There's a thin line between politeness and phoniness, and I think it's a matter of opinion which side you're on in a given situation. If I was to try to offer a general guideline, I'd say that you're just being polite when you're not hurting anyone. For instance, the decision to don a suite and tie or not isn't a decision with ethical repercussions. It's just conforming to a social norm or not. But in the case of the two-faced bar clique, their actions were hurting someone, even if their victim didn't realize it. That's phoniness.

    Anyway, it's a great topic and one we could debate about forever.

  4. Elsie,
    I think you have a point there about it being a loaded question. I am so often accused of being polite, that I probably thought it was a given in this post.

    Love the way you summed up the point in a few sentences! It probably would have taken me at least two or three paragraphs to do that. Thanks for the reminder and input! :)


Thanks so much for your comment and input! :)

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