A personality quirk. A woman’s jealous nature. An uncontrollable bodily function. You’re 45, and when alone you sing along with Avril Lavigne songs. You live a double life as a raging, yet functional, alcoholic. A man’s desire to wear women’s undergarments.
What do all six of these things have in common?
They are all parts of who you are that you wouldn’t dare share with someone the first time you meet them.
Many moons ago, a friend and I had an in depth conversation about the psychology of getting to know someone. It’s a general rule of thumb that if you want someone to greet you with a smile the next time you see them, there are certain things you just don’t talk about. She coined this withholding of self, “presenting your Representative“.
Your representative is the one who looks out for your behalf, and knows it’s best that the other person isn’t left thinking to themselves, “ok, that was TMI (too much information)”. You may be dying on the inside to tell the other person that you can only get off sexually when you dress up in full body animal costumes (a real fetish, known as being a Furry), but your Representative knows better. Your Representative may hint at the issue in an attempt to feel out the other for similar interests, asking questions such as “Have you ever heard of Furry Fandom? What do you think of those people?”, or “I have a strange fascination with mascots, isn’t that funny?” Your Representative knows this is a much safer way to approach the issue than blurting out, “It would be really hot if we went back to my place, dressed up like the Easter Bunny and made out for a while”.
As for a more personal example, on a first date (or third for that matter) I would never discuss that I choose not to wash my hands very often because I’m a fan of “exposure”, and I think that such hygiene habits directly correlate to the fact that I don’t get sick very often. If the topic came up, I may say instead, “I have some unique idiosyncrasies when it comes to hygiene”, and leave it at that. This is my Representative in her full effect. It may leave some question marks in the other person’s mind, but at least they are still willing to caress my hand at the end of the evening.
Now, there is one exception to this rule. If you feel good vibes are being reciprocated and the two of you are jiving a bit, you can get away with sharing some of your more tame eccentricities by using the old familiar line, “This isn’t something you usually tell someone the first time you meet them but…”. Generally this gives the other person a chance to mentally prepare for what’s coming next, and tells them you know what you are about to share isn’t the most socially flattering, but you feel you can trust them not to freak out upon delivery of this forthcoming information.
So how long exactly does it take for you to let your representative withdrawal into the background a bit and let more of your true self come forward? I wish I had an exact timeline for all you closet Furries out there, but in my personal experience it seems to all depend on the two people. There have been times I’ve felt comfortable upon first meeting admitting I own a small arsenal of panties, which allows me to get away with not doing laundry for over a month, yet I only own one or two pairs of jeans that I regularly wear (you do the math on that one, folks). Then other times, it may take a half dozen or so times before I’m willing to share that I lived on a hippie commune at the tender age of 18 months, and that during that period of time my name was Atma Kaur. I would simply suggest that you let your Representative and inner misfit confer on the decision, and let those oddities out when your gut tells you the time is right. And if by chance the person gets up, splashes their drink in your face and promptly walks out- you know it wasn’t meant to be anyway.
I encourage you all to let your inner freak fly, just consult with your Representative first.
Now please excuse me while I go dance around my living room to Hank Williams Jr, wearing nothing but a smock and a ski mask.