I attribute many of my dating mistakes to a Lady Gaga phase.
No, I never wore a getup made entirely of Muppets. I didn’t woo a guy by covering myself in balloons, either.
Still, I channeled Gaga in relationships before the singer even entered my pop culture radar.
I’m not sure I’d do it all over again.
The realization hits me as I prepare for Sunday’s 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, which will include a performance by Gaga. It’s safe to predict her time on stage will exceed the limits of “memorable.”
At last year’s VMAs, Gaga wore her famous/infamous “meat dress.” The year before, Gaga’s VMA performance featured the singer “bleeding” to death.
There’s no reason to expect her shock value to decline on Sunday.
Yet amid all the costumes and on-stage shenanigans, my favorite Gaga performance of all time is a version of “Poker Face” featuring only Gaga and a piano. No shocking accessories. No elaborate speeches. Just a singer and a song.
And that’s where I find the parallel to my dating life.
Until recently, I couldn’t understand why some of my past romantic relationships failed. I found the answer after some soul-searching set to “Bad Romance.”
I failed at love because I tried to sustain affection with shock value alone.
For a long time, I thought the key to keeping someone around was to appear as far from ordinary as possible.
So I attempted to dazzle dates with tales of previous romantic exploits, half of them exaggerated or selectively edited.
In the process, I made myself an alien dater, someone whose obsession with tomorrow’s shock made her overlook today’s realities. Rather than trying so hard to prove I was extraordinary, I should have showcased my passion for the ordinary.
I boasted dating’s equivalent of a meat dress, when I really just needed to wear my favorite T-shirt and sing “Poker Face” at a piano.
OK, not literally. That probably wouldn’t be pleasant for anyone involved. But you get my point.
Make no mistake: We all need Gaga moments in our lives.
Shock and spontaneity add an essential newness to long-term relationships and prevent couples from entering dreaded rut territory.
Take shock value too far, however, and you risk creating a persona devoid of the “constants” critical to a relationship’s foundation.
I now navigate the dating world with a sense of self that offers more familiarity than the extremes I used to embrace.
But every now and then, I’ll flaunt my poker face -- a reminder that I haven’t entirely gone gaga for predictability.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8516.