Whenever you hear the phrase "faking it", what immediately comes to your mind? If you said faking orgasms, listen, I'm totally with you. In fact, I actually wrote an article for the site about how I personally think that faking it is a form of manipulation (you can read it here). Oh, but there are other ways to fake it in life, chile. Other ways to manipulate people by being fake too.
That's what we're gonna unpack today. Unfortunately, because so much of our lives is filled with some level of media, sometimes, it's challenging to separate what is real from what isn't—from what it really does mean to be fake. To be fake is to be disingenuous. To be fake is to pretend. To be fake is to "conceal the real", so that you can appear more attractive or interesting to others. The problem with all of this is when something is based on fakeness, you can never really trust it because it's all an illusion; a mirage.
Today, let's pull the masks off. Let's do so by looking at some pretty telling signs that you (or someone you know) are faking it, not when it comes to coitus, but when it comes to your relationships with other people. Hopefully, if you see yourself in any of these, you'll feel compelled to break these habits, so that you can cultivate connections with those who know, respect and appreciate you—the real you.
1. “Honest”, “Genuine”, “Direct” Aren’t the Words That Are Used to Describe You—EVER
You remember when grandma used to say that cussing is a sign of not being very intelligent? I always think about that when I come up on studies that reveal things like it's actually smarter folks who tend to use four-letter words. Know what else research says that cussing is an indication of being? More honest. While being liked by the masses has never really been a concern or goal of mine, I will say that the older (and prayerfully wiser) I get, the more I care about being known and respected as an individual rather than everyone simply "liking" me.
A big part of that is because, a lot of the people I personally know who are considered likeable, when I peek behind their curtain and they share some of their vulnerabilities, oftentimes, they don't like themselves very much. And a big part of the reason why is they are so caught up in being popular that they hide a lot of their true selves—including their views, values and even wants and needs (we'll get more into that last part in a bit). Bottom line, they are basically so into being liked that they aren't really very honest with themselves—which makes it close to impossible to be honest with the individuals around them.
It's a pretty miserable existence to have everyone think that you are awesome when you're not even revealing your authentic self—when no one really and truly knows you at all. Believe you me, it's better to have five folks genuinely like the real you than 100 folks praise the version that is fake AF. You're grown. It's your decision. But man, I hope you'll choose what's behind Door #1. It's amazingly freeing in that space.
2. Your Connections Consist Mostly of Online Ones
A couple of years back, Entrepreneur published the article, "Why Everyone and Everything on Social Media Is Fake". I chuckled because it really is a trip, how much people will speak so confidently about individuals they only interact with online. It's also fascinating how people have a real knack for presenting themselves one way on IG and a completely different way in real life.
Case in point. I recently saw someone—someone who has a pretty big Twitter following—make the announcement that they no longer were going to share their personal business because people don't agree with their choices and the stress has caused them to go to therapy. It's been a while since I've had my own social media accounts, but do you get how imbalanced you can get if you spend a lot of time caring about people who you don't even really know? This person got to the point where they regretted revealing parts of their true selves simply because a lot of their random followers took issue with it. Y'all, when it gets to the point where either 1) you only present what you think people want to see online and/or 2) you shy away from being the real you because you care more about "likes" than you do about being at peace with your own self, it's time to take a social media fast or consider getting offline altogether, so that you can devote more time to cultivating real friendships.
Social media has its place. At the same time, it shouldn't be your only interaction with human beings. Actually, I don't think it should be your main one either. I don't care if it's Twitter, Instagram or Clubhouse (whew, that Clubhouse, chile), don't get caught up in the hype of keeping up with how folks present themselves online or thinking that you've got to keep up with the online Joneses. Just like the filter on a lot of those pictures are fake, so is how a lot of people present themselves—this includes how they oftentimes choose to interact with you.
3. Everyone Gets Talked About—Just Not in Their Face
Something else that grandma used to say is, "If they'll gossip to you, they will gossip about you." While that might not be 100 percent accurate (because I actually don't know one person who doesn't gossip on some level; media basically wouldn't exist without it), it's a good thing to keep in mind in the sense that, if you're someone who is constantly talking about people, only to act totally different in their presence, that is the ultimate kind of fakeness.
In fact, I'll give you a true life confession on this. For years, I was perceived as rude because it is absolutely not my modus operandi to act as if I like you and/or things are all good if I don't and/or they're not. I'm just not the kind of person to fake the funk. So, what I've had to work on is accepting that not being someone's fan doesn't mean that I've got to make people feel super uncomfortable or even be impolite. Hmm, come to think about it, about 85 percent of my inner circle has this particular trait in common. While I get that this personality trait isn't for everyone, I actually like it because, at least, I know where I stand—at least, I don't have to wonder if they're being one way in my presence and another way out of it. And neither do they.
Anyway, please don't give yourself any brownie points if you're the person who complains, gripes or speaks ill of folks when they're not around but then you pull the "Hey girl!" approach when they're within earshot of you. If you've got a real issue with someone, it's not going to get resolved if you're not honest and upfront with them about how you feel. Also, if you're someone who is just disingenuous in this way, eventually, even your own crew is gonna wonder if you're always like this…and that wondering could turn into socially distancing themselves from you at some point. It won't be due to COVID-19 either.
There is nothing admirable about acting one way in people's faces and another way behind their back. Figure out how to make peace or address the issue. If you don't want to be fake, you can't really do both.
4. You Care More About Others’ Expectations than Your Own Needs
Ever meet a relational chameleon? Those are what I call individuals who are one way with you and yet a completely different person with others. Matter of fact, it's kind of a toss-up when it comes to who they are gonna be at any given moment. While on the surface, that might sound like the definition of a person who is a bit off of their rocker, I've personally seen it enough in my lifetime to think it's more like someone who is A) unsure of who they truly are; B) an opportunist and/or C) more concerned about what others expect from them than what they need to receive in their relationships.
Being the kind of individual who meets the needs of others isn't a bad thing. It really isn't. Yet if you are so focused on making others happy that you suffer and/or you have no idea what your needs are and/or those needs are constantly shifting based on what you think people believe you should ask of them—while this may seem like a selfless thing on the surface, it's actually another form of fakeness.
I know a guy who's a huge relational chameleon. For instance, the way he acts around white people is completely different than how he acts around us (Black folks). He also lets a lot of BS slide with white people while being much harder on his Black friends. Know what else? He overextends for white folks because those are the ones he does the most business with. Meanwhile, he thinks that they "like" him when it's really more like they enjoy how much they are able to use him.
No relationship is healthy if only one person is doing most of the work. And something is up with the over-giving individual who doesn't confront this issue at some point. Bottomline, it's fake to constantly change yourself in order to please others. Decide what you need and be consistent with your expectations of them being met. Period.
5. You’ve Got Unhealthy Habits Because None of Your Relationships Fulfill You
One of the things that I didn't see being a benefit of the abstinence journey that I've been on is realizing that, although I consider myself to have a pretty healthy sex drive (so did my partners, if I do say so myself), I also realize that some men got what they absolutely did not deserve. It was because I used sex (and my sexual performance) as a way of escape. "Escape" in the sense that if I wasn't getting what I wanted or needed from them outside of the bedroom, I would lie to myself and say that was happening in the bed was more than enough. Lying to yourself is a really unhealthy habit. It can also cause you to be in some of the fakest relationships around.
Are you constantly doing most of the work in your relationships, hoping that they will like you more? Do you not speak up when you feel taken for granted because you don't want to "stir the pot"? Do you find yourself acting like certain things are "fine" when they absolutely aren't because you fear being alone if you speak up? Listen, when you are in a relationship, of any kind, that is making the core of who you are worse rather than better, sometimes to the point where you don't even really know who you are anymore, this is a sign of faking it that is problematic—and counterproductive—AF. It's a bad habit that you need to break ASAP.
The relationships that you can truly exhale in are the ones where you know you aren't overextending yourself or compromising to the point of sacrificing, just to keep them around. Your tribe wouldn't want you to be unhealthy just to keep them happy. Remember that as you interact with others.
6. If You Died Today, No One Could Say They Knew the REAL You
There's a guy I know who is awesome. Like, a really great guy. I don't know one person who would say otherwise and I've known him for well over two decades at this point. Here's the thing, though (and I've actually said it to him directly)—if he were to suddenly pass away today, even he said that probably only his brother could do his eulogy any justice when it comes to the details of his life—and he's been married for years. Why is that? Because no one really knows much beyond the surface.
It's not like he's shady or anything. It's more that he is so used to everyone thinking that he's the greatest person ever that he keeps up polite walls so that folks won't be disappointed. Lord, what a lonely existence at the end of the day because, is it worth it for everyone to so-call love you when they've only skimmed the surface?
A wise person once said, "If everyone likes you, everyone doesn't know you." One way to look at this is, none of us are everyone's "fit" and that's OK. Yet if you're so busy trying to seem like you are every person's ideal, you can find yourself never putting your guard down and letting others in. As a result, while your relationships may be pleasant, they still aren't very real.
I once read a post that said, "Being fake is the new trend and everyone is in style." While unfortunately, there may be a certain amount of truth to this, is it really worth it to not be your true self? That's not a rhetorical question. The answer is, it's not.
You've only got one life. You can be fake. You can be real. Choose wisely. You and your relationships are depending on it.
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