This may come as a surprise, but most couples standing before me at moments like these do not describe their first date like this:Ian - "When she finally said yes to going out with me (the date)... failed epically..."
Dear - "Our first date, to tell you the truth, was a train wreck..."
Wow! And they say Thai FOOD is spicy!
Now, if you know the rest of the story, you know why this happened. Ian received some very bad advice, reminiscent of the advice the all too real fictional corporate boss, Jack Donaghy, on 30 Rock once gave his employees: "Remember everybody, just DON'T be yourselves!" Ian followed this advice, and if not for Dear's friend imploring her to give him another chance, well, I would be back in
right now... Texas
Isn't it fascinating how sometimes we think putting our best foot forward means trying to be someone we are not? And, in fact, in most professional situations, it is probably better NOT to be yourself. Jack Donaghy is actually, irony of ironies, totally right! Abiding by certain agreed upon social conventions lubricates our professional lives. I don't put my bare feet on my desk, even though I would really like to, and you show up to work wearing pants. We all conform. It's not a bad trade off!
However, in matters of the heart, this just does not work. In fact, it might be true, that some relationships stumble BECAUSE people don't let down their guard, and shed all masks of pretension, and are comfortable with - this is key - the other person's differences. This means, of course, that you need to know who you are, what you believe in, and where you want to go.
This is an area, where, excluding date number one, Dear and Ian excel. I can hardly think of two people more confident in who they are, than these two, without being over confident. (OK, maybe Ian is a LITTLE over confident, but still...) They both know themselves, their personal areas of strength, and the areas they need to work on.
This enables them to know each other, appreciate each other, and love each other on a very deep level, not only despite, but even due to, their differences. Ian is able to say, "Dear is an extremely unique woman filled with contradictions, frustrations, and happiness..." And, though, as most guys, he is not as complex, her complexity makes him love her even more. Dear is able to say, "Having been with Ian for over 3 years, I have found that Ian has a dog-like personality (this is a compliment though)..." (Pause) OK, I admit, I still don't get that one... Listen to this one, though: "Another characteristic of Ian that makes me love him... is his passion. I have never seen anyone in my life (that) has (such) massive passion... (for everything) they are interested in. He has a passion for politics, his job, and (really) anything he does," and here's the kicker, "which is the exact opposite of me." And that enhances, rather than detracts from her love for him.
And so, Dear and Ian teach us a lesson well worth remembering for our romantic relationships. As Ian puts it, "Since we only have one life, why not spend it with a person that always keeps you on your toes..." Why not indeed...