Monday, July 28, 2008

Let's play pretend

Pretend is a game I never get tired of playing - even when I know I really should stop. Even when I know I am doing nobody, least of all myself, any favors by continuing to pretend.

I've always played pretend. It didn't become a problem until I was 14 and took an interest in this boy. He was one of those dark, moody types who read obscure philosophers and wrote deep, tragic poetry. I was in love with him so I pretended to be dark and moody and to love philosophy. I pretended I knew what he was talking about and I pretended his poetry 'spoke to my soul'. But I'm a basically cheerful person who doesn't think she is being persecuted, and his poetry sucked. We broke up at some point, probably because I was desperate for a laugh.

Later in high school I dated a guy who was a punk, in a new wave sort of way. I pretended I loved punk music (I like it but it was the 80's and I was more of a Bon Jovi girl) and I loved his blue mohawk (which felt like sandpaper) and that I was angry at the world (See 'basically cheerful person'). That ended when I chose to go to a Duran Duran concert instead of sneaking into a bar to see some local punk band.

I dated semi-athletic frat guys for most of my college years. For them I pretended to love football, rugby, baseball, boating body surfing, skiing, and sex in unusual outdoor places (fire escapes for instance). I pretended that spending a day engaged in some athletic activity, followed by drinking excessively all night and then getting up with no sleep and doing some more vigorous athletic activity was my idea of a good time. (actually I was just there for the drinks & possibly I had a teensy self-esteem problem). I'm not athletic, I don't like watching or playing sports. These relationships ended for a variety of reasons that I can't recall now, though they all seemed terribly important and life altering at the time.

Why did I pretend so much? Two reasons.

First I believed "love him, love his interests", as did most of my friends. If you didn't love everything he loved, you must not really love him. (I never expected him to take up crochet, nobody did, this was one way devotion). Second I believed "fake it until you make it", the theory that if you pretend to like something & do it as though you like it, eventually you will actually like it. This theory has some rather large holes in it in my experience but it took 10 years of dating and then a few more years of experience before I was willing to admit that. And of course, if I loved what he loved, then he would love me even more. Right?

I finally met a guy who liked mostly the same things I did. I wasn't always as into some things as he was, but I didn't have to pretend. He was very into things like recycling, reclaiming, cleaning up the environment - very green before it was called green. I was into it too, not as much, but I was happy to participate in recycling collections and cleaning highways. It was a serious relationship. He was a year ahead of me and as his graduation came closer we began talking about the future. He'd get a job, we'd see each other on weekends and when I graduated we'd get engaged. Then he decided to be the change he wanted to see in the world and joined the Peace Corps. I pretended I was fine with that. I was not thrilled, but I accepted he really wanted to do it. I also spent a few months pretending I was the sort of person who was happy with a long distance relationship that held out no hope of seeing one another for 2 solid years, even though I knew damn well I was not that sort of person at all.

I met my husband a few months later. He and I had a great deal in common. We liked enough of the same books, the same shows, the same food, the same music, with enough differences to be individuals, that I never felt the need to pretend. Except for camping. He really like camping. I loath camping. I pretended to be ok with camping for a few years (I cannot pretend to like camping, despite years of pretending experience). Then I pretended that camping "is not the first summer activity that came to mind" followed by "ok, I'm not that fond of camping" and then the honesty - I really don't like camping. It only took me 8 years of a relationship to admit that.

Eleven years later I am back to pretending I like things males like. Also, as a parent it is important that I provide a good example. So I pretend I like vegetables I don't like and that I find knock knock jokes funny. Someday, hopefully soon, my sons will be old enough to understand you can love someone and not love everything they love. I would be doing them a disservice if I pretend too long.

This confession is brought to you by My Confessions Monday. Head over and take a look at what other crazy things people have done in the name of love.

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