Qualities You Display vs Qualities You Possess: Making Sense of Relationship Reality

February 22, 2014

February’s Theme is Love vs Fearheartwater

Today’s love quote: “You attract people by the qualities you display; you keep them by the qualities you possess.” Personally, it is the most commonly talked-about thing that relates to dating that I have ever come across, especially in the lives of my clients and friends. I can tell you that several years ago I had a man tell me that the “representative” is what you meet up front. In the first several weeks it is a representative that takes you out to dinner or movies. At first I remember thinking: what in the world is he talking about? But it makes sense. When relationships are first starting out, people tend to be on their best behaviors. They don’t put all their cards on the table, so-to-speak. They are cautious, maybe try a lot harder, listen better. So the young man I had a conversation with a few years back wasn’t totally misguided by that statement. In new relationships, we do tend to focus more, so it is almost like sending a “representative” out there, into the field of relationship-possibility.

People display certain qualities depending on how comfortable they are with themselves. If you think you have nothing to hide, then you are going to go into a relationship as transparent as possible. Some people are so confident with themselves that is is natural for them, something they don’t have to think about. They don’t feel like they have to be someone they’re not, just to impress another person. Ideally it would be great if all people were like this but that’s not reality. So many times people don’t even know who they are. People get bogged down with fear, rejection, egos get in the way, pasts creep up on them. It is really hard to separate the lessons we’ve learned from our pasts and use them in a positive way in our current and future relationships. This is even harder when you don’t know who you are. It makes it difficult to be true to yourself and the people in your life.

    When you look at the dating world today, it’s hard to put yourself out there and many times what happens is that you take a look at the other person and try and guess what he or she wants or likes. What qualities you think he or she thinks attractive. There are a lot of stories about people who go out to eat for their first dates, and they actually wait to see what the other person orders. They may even order something because they think it would impress the other person. Rather than looking at the menu and asking yourself what you want to eat. The difficult thing about this is when you display those types of falsities, those things that may not truly be who you are, the person on the other side of that actually believes that is who you are and they are thinking, ‘I like that she enjoys traveling, or pepperoni pizza,” etc. They see these qualities in you and they believe it to be a truth. If you are confident in yourself, then displaying true qualities about yourself when in relationships is easy for you, and it is not something you need to think about. The problem is when you are on the other side of this. That is when you are left questioning yourself and this person in front of you. Is this a quality they really possess? Or is he putting on a show because he thinks that is what I like?

Imagine relationships as a time line. When you first meet someone, that becomes point A. Point A is not going to be the truest form of a person. Everything is new and untarnished, fluffed-up even. The true test is a little phrase that I like to recite every day: Actions speak louder than words. Be cautious. Does he or she possess actions that you admire? If you see these qualities up front, don’t get encouraged by them automatically. You have to wait and see if that person is genuine in their actions or if this is just a show. I am not saying that people have ill intentions during this time. It is just a matter of who they are or what they perceive themselves to be and whether or not they are living in truth. At first glance, we cannot discern how much of a person is to be believed. You’ve got that first half of the time line, from A to B and I would say during that period of time, just be cautious. You do not know if the qualities being displayed are legitimate or not. However, during your time from point A to point B, if you notice that the person you are with possesses those qualities through and through; it is a measurement that this is a consistent reality of that person and how he or she treats others. The qualities being displayed are constant in their actions, words, and daily lives.

We have all heard cautionary advice: “Don’t fall too soon, because you might not fall for the truth.” I think that is good advice. I think in today’s dating world that people often display certain characteristics upfront that aren’t normally in their realm of character. Hence the “representative” that I wrote about earlier. How much fluff is added to it? Fluff will dissipate over time. It will die off because it is not completely true of that person’s character. In the relationship time line, if the person is constantly showing those qualities in thought, word, and deed, it’s a pretty good indication that it is genuine. If you truly fall in love with that person from point A to Point B and it is a consistent display than you would be happy with this person’s actions for a long term commitment because that is who he or she truly is. You attract people by the qualities you display which is a combination of who you are and who you are trying to impress. But it is the qualities that you truly posses that is going to keep someone around. And if you don’t find those qualities to your liking, let that person go. Be cautious, be conscientious as you embark on any new relationship, not just dating but friendship or business. Know that the qualities that are being displayed are likely a combination of who the person is and what he/she is thinking you want to hear. The combination is unique to each individual. Over time, you will see the qualities each person truly possesses. That is what you should base your decision off of, whether to have this person in your life or not.

    Take a look at all the different relationships that you have in your life at the moment. You could probably reflect into your past as well and see when there were times where you have fallen into the relationship situation where you were really attracted to the qualities that were being displayed; only to find they were not true. And then when they dissipated, you were let down and deceived, lied to or hurt. This is what most people do in the beginning of relationships. It is important to take time to get to know the person’s true character. This is human nature and only time will tell the truth. Actions speak louder than words. Each of us wants to fall in love or be with someone who has qualities that are attractive to us, not the ones that are displayed upfront.

    Keep your eyes open and ask yourself questions about your relationships this week. What qualities does this person possess? Do I like those qualities? The ones that you do really like should make you feel grateful for that person being in your life. There are people who will appeal to you differently. Some may even make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Remember, what people display and what people possess aren’t always the same thing. It takes time, so be patient, be cautious, be smart. If you would like any more information about finding out what kind of person you are and how to live a deeper, more meaningful life, please contact me at DawnGrant.com. InJoy your day!

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