Not so long ago, after another failed attempt at starting a relationship, I was given the advice to not “show all my cards” at the start. The concept intrigued me and the subsequent conversation ensued.
For the purpose of perspective I will explain what “showing your cards” means. The term originates, at least in my knowledge, from the card game of poker. The idea of the game is to “bluff” your opponents in the hopes of winning the hand and the adjoining bet. The concept of bluffing relies on the fact that you are the only one who actually knows what cards you hold in your hand. However, with small gestures, or the lack thereof, you try to convey the idea to your opponents that you have spectacular cards and are sure to win. The entire process is one of purposeful deception.
My friend used the term “don’t show all your cards” while instructing me to hold back a little until the relationship got off the ground. She, of course, was referring to actions of thoughtfulness and sincerity. She suggested that I may be too friendly, nice, kind, etc. at the beginning and told me many women may not believe I am being genuine. She also outlined my abundance of playfulness and optimism (insert blog here) as a potential pitfall at the beginning of a relationship.
After talking to her a short time and listening to her argument on the matter I asked her this, “Is that the real me?” I considered the whole concept as misrepresentation; which I feel is morally wrong. Throughout the remainder of the conversation we bounced the idea back and forth. She claimed the behavior was necessary, practically a requirement. I claimed the behavior was detrimental and a shaky foundation to start a relationship on.
My thoughts on the matter are that you should be real with people. Now as you can imagine, this behavior has not always worked out in my favor. However, I believe the ease you gain in knowing you are being yourself far outweighs the troubles of having to “act” a part.
Acting part has a host of other related troubles. First of all is the basic knowledge you are being insincere with another individual whom you are claiming to care about. Then there is the trouble associated with remembering what stage of the “act” you are in. Have you already shown “this card” or not? What about this other “card?”
The most significant issue may be the fact that who you really are when not “performing” may not be what the other person wants. You can imagine the surprise when you spend the beginning stages spending more time at home and then later explode into a raging socialite. Or, on the flip side, spend the beginning stages constantly scooping up the other for impromptu dances only for them to later find out you despise dancing. These are only two potential pitfalls from not “showing all your cards.” There are far too many for me to outline all of them in one blog.
You will never hear me say there is no such thing as an arena where you must “act” a particular part. As someone who is fascinated by sociology, people, and how we all communicate, I support the concept that we are all constantly “performing.” But, to quote a former professor, “that is a conversation best reserved for a quiet mountaintop and a cold six-pack.” I will, however, caution you about “holding cards” when starting a relationship. It may not always be a fruitful endeavor but at least you can be assured that when the right one comes along you will forever feel comfortable.