Sex & Relationships

“Why Do Women Pretend to Be Something They’re Not?”

Our wicked-smart sex and relationships columnist, Kate Carraway, to the rescue!

Even though Andie (Kate Hudson) is lying, it's textbook fronting in How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days (Photo: Everett)

Even though Andie (Kate Hudson) is lying, it’s textbook fronting in How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days (Photo: Everett)

I am a man, and as a man, I have to ask: why bitches be fronting? I kid, but the tendency women have to play like they’re something they’re not, in new relationships especially, astounds me. Why pretend you like sports when you don’t? Why act like you’re happy when you’re not? –Dan

You can roll along in the fun-if-uncomfortable red wagon of life as a girl-woman and have a million-and-a-half great dudes around you at any moment and feel peacefully and joyously at one with humanity and like we finally solved it, like we are the generation to finally end (or at least have the real potential to end) the very stupid “gender war” (barf, obviously). You feel like we’ll be the ones to get those pieces of guy-world and girl-world fitting just-so, and will be rewarded with medals and honours and acknowledgments from our parents that they did it wrong, and we did it right, that it doesn’t have to be so ugly and disconnected, that straight guys can truly be best friends and equal partners and on-the-level allies with us. And then! Once in a while, suddenly and horribly, you’re unceremoniously elbowed outside of that sweet-blue daydream, having conflated the existence of cool, smart, gets-it guys in your life with guys–mostly imaginary guys – who get it as much as we do, when one of them asks you why girls sometimes fake it.

Of the many tiny traumas that have befallen me in the last few days—my car died in a black and icy parking lot; my computer is possessed by a very boring demon who slows everything down to a shuffle at super-inconvenient times; I ate most of a box of crackers for dinner last night after making toast and dropping it and crying; those new Beyoncé songs aren’t actually that great—being confronted, once again, with an easy and dumb example of how men don’t usually understand how and why the circumstances of life are Different For Girls, sucks the most.

Because, come on. How little do you understand about what women go through from age, what, nine? Until forever? To wonder why they’d fake an interest in the Raptors (beyond, say, going to games to be dazzled by the floss and pop and Sturm und Drang of professional sports, and to eat cheesy nachos and drink huge beers, also, cute hats!)? How few women have you known to wonder why they (we) pretend we feel OK and good and fine and nice when we feel like shit/are PMS-ing/crying/screaming/whatever? When guys ask these questions, it is an eye-rolling kind of betrayal.

The answer is that we’re told to, taught to, blown by a very strong, pressure-y wind to construct ourselves and our interests and our behaviours in particular ways. A man, very luckily for himself, gets to do his thing, and be into what he’s into, and expect pleasure from life. I think this is maybe why guys sometimes say things like “I shouldn’t have to feel this way” or “You’re making me feel bad” with the same WTF-ness as if they’d been gently struck by an SUV. Women, though, are instructed to make things easier for other people, to keep it together, to go along. When a woman is in a new relationship, and isn’t totally comfortable with revealing what she really wants, needs, likes, hates, whatever (and, btw, a zillion women love sports, so let’s be real about that before you assume fakery), she very well might play pretend. Guys play pretend as well, right? In an opposite way? Not saying what you’re thinking, to avoid drama or unpredictable emotions (which I guess is kind of drama, too) is playing pretend. New relationships are a weird time for everyone when it comes to truth, and telling it.

Anyway: all of this is changing, on both ends, in fits and starts, and those changes are very interesting and a good opportunity for beauty, for connection, between men and women and dating and the wild, still-open future of relationship-culture. To make those kinds of changes real, though, everyone has a responsibility to not only ask questions—“Why do guys do this?” and “Why do women do this?” and most of all “Why does anyone do this?”—but to use their brains and heart and experience to find out the answer. “Fronting,” as you’ve described it, is just one of the ways in which women negotiate between the way we’re told to be and the way we feel inside—which could be any which way at all—so, instead, think about it as a starting point, to get somewhere else.

More advice from Kate Carraway:

I’m Dating a Woman. What Do I Tell People?
Should I Be Worried About My Guy’s ‘Good Friend’?
Is My Sensitive Boyfriend Just Not All That Deep?
How Can I Make My Boyfriend Initiate Sex More?
We Had the Perfect Date and Then I Never Saw Him Again…
Help! My Boyfriend and I Are From Different Worlds
Help! My Friend Has Become a Selfie-Obsessed Monster
Help! My Girlfriend Is Always on a Diet
Help! My Boyfriend Is Better Looking Than Me
I’m So Tired of Hearing About My Friends’ Boring Babies.
I Have Proof My Friend’s BF Is Cheating. Do I Tell Her?
My Best Friend’s Life Is Perfect. Can I Tell Her to Stop Complaining Already? 
How Young Is Too Young?
Is Long Distance a Dealbreaker?
When Do I Need to Disclose My Dismal $$$ Sitch?
How Can I Curb My Tinder-Rejection Sads?
When Should My Guy & I Talk “Numbers”?
Can We Be FWB When He Wants More?
Is It Ever OK to Date a Friend’s Ex?
How Do I Get Over a Guy?
Why Aren’t I More Obsessed With My BF?
Should I Propose to My Guy?