I'm always telling people who are dating to be honest, and I think that's good advice. However, I must admit that I have not always practiced what I preach.
You see, not long ago, I decided it was too weird for me to only be meeting people who already knew me. By which I mean people who knew of "Mistress Matisse." I've been writing this column and my blog, and generally being a dominatrix-about-town for some time now. These days, when I tell people that name, they know who I am. (I often don't introduce myself as Mistress Matisse. But even so, people at sex-positive events will often cock their heads and say "Hey, don't I know you?" I keep hoping they're mistaking me for Angelina, but no such luck.)
While on one hand it's great that I have cool readers and this tiny sliver of fame, it's also sometimes awkward. I get introduced to a total stranger, but that stranger already knows a whole lot about me. Or at least, they think they do. And starting a dating relationship with anyone who's already read all about your fetishes and orgasms? Impossible. The normal getting-to-know-you phase is completely shot to hell.
I thought, "Okay, the obvious solution is to meet people from outside my usual pervy social circles. Like, normal people, who won't know who Mistress Matisse is, or care."
One problem. I have no idea where the hell to meet normal people.
I asked Max. "You could join The Mountaineers club," he replied with a smirk.
"Oh, very funny. No, that's a wee bit too normal."
So I did what everyone does these days: I put up profiles on social-networking sites. I made it very clear that I was poly, and I did mention, more briefly, that I was also kinky. And I went out on some dates—innocent social dates, no sex or kink or anything—with people who were completely unaware that someone named "Mistress Matisse" even existed, let alone that I was she.
I thought I would feel pleasantly unencumbered by expectations, free to share—or not—whatever parts of myself I choose in that particular moment. But actually, I was wrong. I didn't like it nearly as much as I thought I would. I underestimated how much I'd dislike being evasive when asked, "What do you do for a living?" I had decided I would not utter a lie; I would just... be vague. I had forgotten what a hassle it is to be in the closet. I thought that if I disclosed about being poly and kinky, that would be enough. But I'm proud of my career and what I've made of myself, and I need to be open about it. And when I told a couple of the people I'd met, they all replied with some variant of "Yeah, I thought you seemed like you were hiding something."
So, lying about who you are? It feels wrong and doesn't fool anyone, anyway. Seems obvious when I say it like that, but I guess I had to experience it once again to know.