In this educational series/TED Talk/Nickel’s worth of free advice, I wanted to leave a little bit of room for something which I have considered lately as probably one of the most dangerous things of starting a new relationship: Charm.
Just knowing how things work out in relationships much of the time, I have to say that in the Snow White story, it was doomed from the start. Prince Charming might only have that going for him, just like your Prince Charming. Er…Princess Charming. Whatever. Adjust the pronouns as you need, because this shit is universal.
Charm gets you through the door but it won’t be what keeps you there. Being funny, interesting, having a crude joke, or a party trick will catch their interest, but unless you are in the Ringling Bros. eventually that shit is going to wear thin. Usually when someone is front loading the charm, it means that they will probably turn out to be a real piece of crap later on. Charm is nice, but it doesn’t last and anyone who has been burned by it will actively avoid it once they understand it is pretty much just bait for a deadly trap.
Some of my friends have recounted some of the most charming people they have spent time with later turned out to be horrifying monsters. They fell for compliments and sweet talk. So the next time someone sweet talks them, they won’t believe it, even if it is spoken with total sincerity…which is only about 1 in 1000 times.
Yes, I sound cynical. How the hell else are you supposed to meet people? On dating apps you are supposed to have a great opening line or you won’t get even a hello back. Those are supposedly what is required these days to even participate in the gene pool. (I’ll pass, thanks). Like most of us are doing these days, you are just wearing a mask. Masks are fine as long as they don’t exceed their purpose. Some of the greatest romances in stories have begun at masquerade balls…well, of course those also end in tragedy…bad example, Romeo and Juliet. But everyone wears a mask to some degree. It removes them from the situation just a little bit so they can operate. Some people wear a mask of alcohol, which they think emboldens them; The old Dutch Courage. For some, their mask is their physical prowess. Either a push-up bra, lots of makeup, big biceps, a six-pack of abs. Etc. This mask dazzles people who don’t really consider having to actually speak with someone they are involved with apparently. Masks are what you want the world to see, and even buy you some time until you decide what you want to reveal about yourself.
In time, all masks dissolve, however. Even if there is just another mask under that mask.
Others have their schtick or their line of bullshit. In social situations I tell stories, make jokes, etc. but only when I’m loose or comfortable enough to do it. This is just in general too. The only problem is you have to have a receptive audience. I’ve been to parties where I hid behind a mask of just sitting in the corner and watching people. I know some people whose schtick is doing a parlor trick like drinking a lot of hard liquor in a short amount of time or demonstrating they have no gag reflex.
To which I have to say, I remember my first beer.
Movie quotes are a good mask, but eventually someone wants to know what you have to say, rather than something you’ve memorized from your favorite Quentin Tarantino flick.
At the end of the day, even if I am ON IT at a social gathering or just out in public, the introverted side of me kicks in and I just want to be quiet, listen to sad songs in my car, and breathe. Having a schtick also means that you eventually won’t be ON. Nobody can be.
You have to back it up
Charm is fine for breaking the ice. But even the sweetest person in the world won’t be charming all the time. You have to back it up with integrity, kindness, empathy, and putting in the work. Otherwise, once that mask comes off, if charm was all you had, they will see the ugliness you’ve been hiding, instead of the beauty behind the mask. Substance and character beats charm every time. Unless you are a sociopath, in which case, charm might be all you’ve got.