Your perception creates your reality. This is something I learned quite early in my life. As a child, my parents told me, all my Christmas presents were brought to our living room by Santa Claus. I never saw him, although I tried to hide and wait for him. But every year, he managed to smuggle all the presents into the room without me noticing him. In my perception, they appeared magically and that was my reality: Santa Claus is real.
Later, when I was older and learned, that my parents bought, wrapped and smuggled them into the living room, my perception of it altered – and with it my reality.
This might be a quite simple example of a concept that can be much more complicated when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Something, I realised just recently again. And it involved two completely different women I met nearly at the same time.
The first one was a very active, attractive woman with a Persian origin. She used to call me very often and told me a lot about her day, her life. It was interesting and I was attracted to her, especially her brought smile. And in my perception, it was mutual. When we met for diner in a small restaurant, she sat near to me on a small bench and smiled at me all the time. We talked about everything and nothing, her fingers touching my arm very often.
She told me about her reasons to leave her homeland and how she ended up in Paris – a different country, a different life. Once, she had been arrested by the vice squad because her headscarf had been sitting wrong and a strain of hair was visible. In Paris, no one noticed her not wearing one.
She told me about her friends, her passion for sports.
Her broad smile is the first thing that comes to my mind when I recall the memories of our night together.
The second thing was her perception of myself: She told me after a few days that there is no future for a “us”. Why? Because I am too shy and too silent.
This was quite a surprise to me. I never considered myself shy. Well, I am not a loud person, but silent? She complained that she had to ask everything, and I didn't ask her anything. That was an allegation I had to deny. I pointed out that I had asked her several personal questions about her life. But she just ignored my objection and accused me of not being interested in her. I was so surprised by that and while I was thinking about her allegations, she left the cafe where we were meeting. I thought about a lot of moments in my life where I took the initiative: in my former job, when it comes to romance or dating, personal matters in my family or with friends. How could she perceive me as shy when we had sex after our first date? Just because she talked much more than I did?
The second woman was a professional violinist. She worked as a teacher and as a freelance musician. We met at a classical recitation of Jean-Delphin Alard violin compositions, she sat next to me. We got talking to each other before the concert started and when it was over, we went to have a drink together. She was the first person I knew who really had a passion for musik and a specific instrument and made a living out of it. So, I had a lot of questions for her. I was interested how she came up with the decision to work as a musician, how her parents reacted to that. Usually, parents prefer a regular job with a safe income for their offsprings. As a freelance musician, you don't have a regular income or job security.
We talked a lot about music in general, she was interested in my opinion concerning rock. This has always been and will always be my favourite genre, but she had a rather classical background. I told her, how I came to love rock and which song in particular influenced me and started my love for music made of electric guitars, bass and drums.
When we finished our drinks, we walked around, mostly near the Seine, following the stream. She asked me a lot of questions and I answered them willingly. Around midnight we reached a little, quiet park, where we leaned against the railing and looked down on the Seine. We fell silent, I could see she was thinking about something. But I didn't push her to speak her mind, instead I watched a duck gliding over the slowly flowing water.
After a while, the violinist looked up to me and asked:
“So, what do you think of this date?” I turned to her with and raised my eyebrows.
“It seems to go quite well, doesn't it?” I added a little smile, thinking of our animated talks about music and life choices. She nodded slowly and said:
“Could be worse.” My eyebrows rose again.
“Are you bored?” She shrugged with her shoulders.
“You talk too much. It is complicated to follow and that tires me.”
“So so”, was everything I could say to that. I fell silent and watched her face. She took a step towards me and smiled.
“But I really would like to kiss you.” For the third time in one minute my eyebrows rose.
“Even though I bore you to death?” I chuckled while imaging how she died a slow death because of my stories. She nodded and approached me even more, leaning on the railing with one arm, looking up to me.
“That is a quite ambivalent attitude,” I said and looked down on the river.
“So, you don't want to kiss me?”
“I didn't say that.” Now, it was her turn to rise her eyebrows.
“Then just kiss me,” she demanded. I shrugged mentally, leaned down and kissed her. We did that for a long time. Her kisses grew more passionate. Her lips were soft and tasted lovely. But one thing annoyed me though. She was one of those women, who didn't use her tongue while kissing. We were in Paris – and she didn't used her tongue. So much for French kissing. I considered to address it but decided against it. I bored her to death while talking, let her bore me while kissing.
Her breathing got heavier, and she moaned while I was caressing her body. I invited her to my house, but she shook her head. She had to get up early the next day and preferred to go home. And with that – after more kissing and fumbling – we parted ways.
The next day, she wrote me a text message, asking for another date. She suggested coming around to my house and continue the kissing, so I wouldn't talk so much. I deleted her number.
Those two experiences made me think. About myself, about my self-reflection. I always thought – as most people probably do – that I could assess my impression on other people very well. I do know myself very well, my strengths, my weaknesses. My pattern of behaviour in various situations were clear to me. So how could two people think that I am either shy and silent or talking too much?
I came to the conclusion that they value different things while meeting (or dating) someone. Even though I dated a lot of women since Rosie left me and I didn't have the intention of starting a new relationship, I wanted to know the person in front of me. I wasn't a teenager anymore who was just looking for a nice body. I needed more. Intelligence is the new sexy. An arousing mindset. A witty tongue. Someone who can tell and teach me more about life, things, I didn't know before.
But the Persian girl and the violinist had a specific image of the person they want to meet and fall in love with. They have a subconscious checklist you, as a date, must fulfil. If you have the looks, they might be willing to spend the night with you. But that’s it.
I don’t say, that I have absolutely no requirements for a woman I might fall in love with. But there is a difference between dating rules one developed based on experiences and a specific blueprint.
And obviously, I didn’t match this blueprint. So, they perceived me as shy and talking too much. Since most of the points they are crossing off of their list are checked subconsciously they believe in their own assessment of one’s (or in this case my) personality. It’s their truth.
And as I said before: Your truth depends on your point of view.