I Dumbed Myself Down To Get The Guy And Regretted It

I met a guy I really liked and I wanted him to feel the same about me, so when he said he was interested in kayaking, I said I was too even though I REALLY wasn’t. Faking having the same interest was stupid enough on its own, but I didn’t realize at the time how many other deceptions would spring from it. Worst of all, I was selling myself short.

  1. I felt pathetic. I pretended to love kayaking but not to know much about it to boost the guy’s ego. Ugh. I thought if he felt like he could teach me something about our “shared” interest, it would make us bond and make him think I was basically the most amazing woman he’d ever met. What the hell was I thinking?
  2. It was manipulative. Faking it was a way to get him to like me, so it was really unfair on him. It was like I was conning him into thinking I was something I wasn’t. I couldn’t even relish in him liking me since it wasn’t the real me he was into. Big mistake.
  3. I was hiding myself. Not being my authentic self was sad, especially because I wasn’t showing him all my great qualities, like my intelligence and passion. I was trying too hard to be into the outdoors, be less emotional, and focus on fun because he said that’s what he wanted, even though it sickened me. No man is worth such a compromise.
  4. I became a liar. Dumbing myself down wasn’t a one-off—it could never be because the lie I told became many others. Before I knew what was happening, I was lying all the time: what I liked, what I didn’t like, what I wanted, who I was, and more. It was crazy!
  5. I was ashamed. By playing the role of someone I wasn’t and playing dumb, I felt like I was insulting all the strong, feminist women out there who’d worked hard to be seen as equals and worthy. Here I was, undoing all their hard work AND my own.
  6. There were bigger issues at play. Dumbing down wasn’t actually just about trying to keep a guy (which is bad enough), but clearly, I was really insecure. I didn’t believe I was valuable to anyone and lacked confidence. Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time, but it made a lot of sense when I really did some self-reflection.
  7. I cared too much about the wrong things. Basically, I was spending way too much time worrying about what he wanted and what he liked and not enough time on what I wanted and who I was supposed to be. Nowadays, I care more about my own opinions than some guy’s. It’s about time.
  8. He dumped me anyway. I guess it was karma, but the guy ended up changing his mind about me after we dated for a few months. I can’t blame him. Perhaps he could sense that I wasn’t being genuine or that I was holding my real self back.
  9. I’d been afraid of scaring him away. But it happened anyway! I wanted to kick myself for trying so hard to be what I thought he wanted and dumbing myself down as though not to be intimidating to him. Screw that.
  10. I deserve love. Not because of what hobbies I have or how fun I am, but because of who I am, for goodness’ sake. I deserve love, just like anyone else. It’s BS to think I have to somehow make myself worthy of it or try super hard to earn it. I won’t do that again, and certainly not by dumbing myself down. If a guy can’t see my worth, he doesn’t deserve a second of my attention.
  11. I lowered my standardsI didn’t realize it at the time, but the fact that I was dumbing down for this guy should’ve been a sign that he wasn’t right for me. I had to try to build a relationship that clearly wasn’t supposed to work because we were on different pages. In so doing, I totally lowered my dating standards.
  12. I faked a connection. I think the fact that we didn’t have much in common and wanted different things was the reality I didn’t want to see. I’d basically faked a connection to try to make us work, but this just hurt myself: it kept me stuck in this relationship instead of finding a real connection with someone else!
  13. I wasn’t the carefree girl he wanted, and that’s okay. When he told me he wanted a carefree, chilled and reserved partner, I knew I had to change quite a lot to keep him interested. But WTF was I doing? I’m not that girl and never will be, and I was just denying my truth by trying to be her. Even though I got the guy for a while, it was stressful and such an insult to myself. It wasn’t worth it.
  14. I used to dread being the smart girl. Growing up, I was always seen as the nerdy, smart girl. I grew to hate it, probably because it got me teased a lot in school. I think this dread was behind many of the choices I made in this relationship. I wanted to be the girl who was giggly and a bit ditzy because I thought it made me sexier. Ugh. It didn’t. It made me dumb.
  15. Dumbing down meant degrading myself. I used to think dumbing myself down wasn’t a big deal, that it was all in the name of being flirtatious and fun, but it was much more sinister than I’d realized. While I was boosting the guy’s ego and trying to impress him, I was really just a poodle trying to do tricks to make someone like me. I degraded myself. It’s still so embarrassing when I think about it.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.
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