It’s that time of the year when you attend numerous Christmas parties and maybe meet the guy of your dreams. All of a sudden, you feel self-conscious. What would make he like you? You subconsciouly start to tailor yourself to fit whatever he likes. He said he finds it cool when girls burp without restraint, and though you’ve never done that in public, you do it anyway. He likes girls who plays LoL. You desperately learn how to play it the moment you get home. Yes, making a good impression is important, but that doesn’t mean you have to create a façade of the perfect, cool girl like Amy in Gone Girl.

Like the rest of the world, I was swept up in the book, Gone Girl, and then went to see the movie. Thanks to this year’s Academy Awards, pretty much everyone is familiar with the ending. But even if you aren’t, it doesn’t matter, because I’m not here to give away spoilers; my subject is the female protagonist and what she believes men want: “Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? ‘She’s a cool girl.’ Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth… while somehow maintaining a size two.”

When it comes to relationships, whitewashing our flaws is only natural. After all, deep in our insecure hearts, most of us believe that we’re not quite good enough as we are. As a result, we present to one another a version that’s calculated to be more attractive. But eventually, as it did in Gone Girl, our true selves emerge and – taking my own duplicitousness as an example – it becomes clear that I wasn’t always spontaneous. Or upbeat. Or open to films about Nicholas Sparks’ novels.

The very best outcome here is that your authentic self has enough positive traits to overshadow the first impression you were trying to make. If so, you will both be able to laugh the charade off. Eventually.

Further along the disaster spectrum, both parties could end up feeling cheated and betrayed. As if you wilfully made them fall in love with a person who only had two dimensions, and the real you couldn’t possibly sustain the fiction. Doesn’t exactly scream, “solid basis for a long-term relationship”, does it?

Still, it’s not easy to be 100 percent up front about all your off-putting habits when you’re first getting to know someone. But what we can do is limit the fallout. And how exactly do you accomplish that? By reducing the distance between who you are and who you think he wants you to be.

Not only does this minimise any subsequent disappointment, it also gives him more of a chance to fall deeper in love with a woman he’s just beginning to get to know. Because, ultimately, what matters is not that she’s a Cool Girl. Adoring football, poker, dirty jokes and playing video games is great, but if it’s not the truth, then it’s a lie that does both people in the relationship a serious disservice.

Images: TPG/Click Photos
Text: David Smiedt
Additional Reporting: Kit Chua, Hidayah Idris