by Micki Lavin-Pell, Marriage and Family Therapist and Relationship Coach

In the coming week we will be preparing for the fun Holiday of Purim. Baking Hamantashen, fashioning costumes, planning parties and meals. On the night of Purim we will gather in masks to hear the Megilla -the ultimate Jewish story of pageantry, intrigue and conspiracy. Netlflix couldn’t have come up with better plot line to keep our interest peaked. 

Throughout the ages, its stories such as this that play over and over and can seem quite relevant to today’s world. In shows like the Bachelor, Love is Blind and the like, we are still parading around, dressing up, and even blindfolding ourselves to either appear like someone else, hide our true selves or promote ourselves in a manner in which we want to be seen. All of this concealing and revealing can be learned from the Queen herself, Esther. 

Initially, Esther changed her name and her identity from the Jewish Hadassah to the Persian Esther.   She went into the relationship with King Achashveirush having to carry a lie about who she really is and disguised herself at the ball to conceal her true identity.  Megilat Esther can offer us some great advice on dating and forming relationships through the theme of concealing vs. revealing. 

Indeed this theme of disguise is repeated throughout the Torah. Yaakov who applies lambs wood on his arms to appear to Yitchak as his brother Eisav. Tamar, who disguises herself as a prostitute to trick Yehuda into giving her a child. Yosef, who doesn’t reveal himself to his brothers in Egypt. Why all the deceit? What is the purpose of all this illusion and trickery? Is there a higher purpose to it? Is it ok to don a mask and become someone whom you are not? Perhaps.

In the dating world, commonly one is faking being a certain persona in hopes that this persona will get your date to like you. On a date, we have perceptions of what the other wants. Often, we can be wrong. Sometimes, when we portray a particular persona we are doing so because we are hoping the person we want to be with wants to see us in a particular way. The problem is sometimes there is a mismatch.

As we can see there are many examples in the Torah of people showing up in different ways. Either because they want to be seen in a certain light or in order to get what they want. Needing to hide certain parts of themselves for fear those parts will be rejected. Being exposed, or unintentionally showing parts of ourselves that we don’t want to show.

These are all very important concepts when it comes to dating and finding love.

When it comes to dating, we don’t know exactly what the other person wants from us. We know we have to be interesting and offer some sort of conversation, but it takes a lot of effort to get the ball rolling when you don’t even know what you have in common, or what kind of conversation the other person expects.  We don’t know what kind of temperament our date has. We can go in full guns blazing, but if our date has a delicate temperament we can blow them away, to the point where we’re too much. 

If our date has an overwhelming energy, we may feel there is no space for us to be seen. How do we make our way in?  Conversely, we may choose a partner with big energy so we can hide under the radar and lie in their shadow. 

One way to navigate this is by understanding what it is that you want the person you are dating to like about you. Getting clear on how you want to be seen and what you would need to see in your date can help you better navigate dating.

When it comes to being seen what does this mean?

Being seen means getting noticed in the way you want to be noticed. Being noticed for the qualities you want to project into the world. Far too many feel shy showing their true selves and instead project a sliver of who they really are. 

Many people feel uncomfortable with truly being seen because this is a new experience for them. They weren’t really seen by their parents or other family members or friends. Somehow it felt safe to play under the radar. 

Is this something you relate to?

Here are the elements of being seen:

How you want to be appreciated:

 Your witty charm, your kindness, your intellect, your emotional intelligence. There are many things people enjoy being liked for. 

Some people have been praised for being super organized, or health conscious, a great baker or an athlete…knowing what people appreciate you for and what you are used to being praised for is super important. It is quite likely you will want to be seen for the qualities you have been known to be good at. 

  • Know what you enjoy about people who currently see you.
  • Know what enables you to  tolerate being seen by people. 
  • Know just how much you want to expose and to whom.
  • Know how you want to let people into your life to see you.

If there is anything about  being fully seen that scares you? If so, deal with it!  Not being able to be your true self around those closest to you can cause you lots of pain.

Things that impact our being seen by someone we love includes how we were viewed as children. If you were only seen when you were doing something naughty rather than when you were doing something positive, it may feel uncomfortable to be seen, as you may associate it with negativity. Conversely, if your parents ignored your negative traits and only saw you for being their little Ms./ Mr. Sunshine, this can put pressure on you to always be seen for something you aren’t. 

There is nothing more attractive than standing firmly in your own skin and making the statement, “This is who I am, love me for me” Because when you can do that, the person whom you truly love will reveal themselves in a way that you can see too.  The confidence to be yourself and show the real you, will allow the right partner to show up.

May you allow yourself to be seen in all your glory so that your true partner can give you all the love and affection you need, and in turn you can show them the love they they need so you can live a life full of ’light, gladness, joy and honor’ 

ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה ויקר


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