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Dismissiveness in Dating Culture

This status update appeared in my Facebook Newsfeed recently. I say appeared as if the apparition was magic, but of course, there was no bibbity-bobbity-boo involved; just someone I vaguely used to know wanted to share something.

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My jaw dropped a little. Here’s a woman who hasn’t been shy in the public sphere about noting she would like the company of a fine man. Yet here she also is, quite clearly shutting down a person based on their choice of footwear in the moment. I am struggling to hold the two things in my head together, to understand how they both exist.

Had my FB friend said, “He was rude to the barista. The end” I’d get it. Or, “He littered on the way out the door. The end” I’d totally get it. But she picked something seemingly trivial in comparison to the content of his character.

While dating on the road, I found one common thread I found in men through every quadrant of the country: that getting a date was hard work, and they felt lucky if they got a girl to respond to them, let alone say yes to meeting in public. As men of all ages, characters and creeds confessed this to me, I couldn’t help but think about my own friends who were immersed in the world of dating.

He’s cute, but he says he likes Spacehog. 

I mean, he’s into hiking. Isn’t everyone? 

Um, his text says he’s wearing a bolo. Great. 

Women aren’t the only ones under constant scrutiny it seems, at least when it comes to the datingverse. I’m not absolving men of their critiques, but I am pointing out it goes both ways. And neither seems very…productive. Here’s why:

You’re looking for Mr. or Ms. Makes-You-Twitter-Pated. Having an internal list of qualities isn’t a bad thing. Wanting someone who is kind is a good thing. But if you nix every person who’s every attribute doesn’t align with yours, you are either going to find yourself dating your clone (and bored to tears) or more likely, find yourself dating no one because no one is that much like you.

This weekend I met a girl who mentioned her last boyfriend didn’t have enough in common with her, which was one huge reason why the broke up.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He wasn’t into the same things as me. We couldn’t talk about politics or tech or sports. Having those conversations are important and keep me interested.”

“What would you talk about instead?” I pushed.

“Well…nothing. I mean, he was a nice guy. But we didn’t talk about anything really.” Perpetuating the idea that she needed someone just like her would have been easy. But from talking, it didn’t seem like shared interests was actually the issue.

“It sounds like the issue might not have been common interests, and was more about him not being interested in thinking critically and carrying on a conversation –  any conversation,” I said carefully. “It was more about who he was than what he did and did not like.”

She paused. “Wow. I hadn’t thought of that way.”

Dismissing people because of their shoes or interesting taste in workout music just seems counter productive. Sure, dismiss someone because they’re morals don’t mesh with yours. But why are we so afraid of saying “Eh, just not interested?” and moving forward? Because all the excuses – Spacehog, bolos, hiking – they’re just passive ways of saying “For whatever reason even looking at this person I’m not feeling it.” If you do like someone – all that doesn’t matter. They could turn their plate over your head and it wouldn’t matter. 

That same girl asked me what I look for in an online date.

“Honestly, I skim their profile to see if I just feel reasonably positive about them. And then I look at their pictures and think ‘is there any possible way I might one day considering kissing them?'” And if they seem like someone I’d like and appear to be potentially attractive, I go.”

“Seriously?” she asked.

Yes, seriously. I met a guy once online who frankly, well, didn’t look like my type. He looked corporate. He looked out of shape. He had a photo with a cheerleader. But he seemed like a good person and pursued me. So I agreed to go out with him. One of my best relationships to date came out of that (he was actually none of the three things I attempted to infer from the photos).

I guess the moral of the story is this: you just don’t know until you talk to them.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Helena says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more!! But sadly, men are often behaving in exactly the same way too! I wish people just gave each other more of a chance.

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