Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Best Dating Advice You’ll Ever Hear?

From an informal survey (N = 2)*, it seems that I may be in the minority when I say that every guy I’ve dated has been a good person.  My first love A, the sweetly dorky K, and Matt—they all treated me with kindness and respect.  I feel lucky to have had such good experiences with men.  I think it may be true that a lot of women have had too many bad experiences, and that makes me sad.  Now, don’t get me wrong: I have had a few dates with duds, mostly men who creeped me out because they slipped past my creep radar.  But once I’ve labeled a guy “creep,” it’s hard for him to win my favor again.  I just…can’t.

Which brings me to my question: how does a woman find and identify men who are worth dating?  I recently gave up on the on-line dating scene, at least for now.  It just seemed like a waste of time, though I did make a new friend right before I quit.  The reason that on-line dating is unlikely to work for me is that I feel too much pressure to decide, right away, how I feel about someone.  My heart doesn’t work like that, and I just have to accept the truth.  I’m slow to warm up to a new person; I need time to get to know them outside of the context of dating.  Men who are willing to be my friend for a while, men who are willing to engage in some emotional intimacy without the promise of sex—these are the men who will win my trust.  I think trust is essential for physical intimacy.

My secret to dating only good men is to be very, very patient and to be satisfied being alone.  I am far too lazy to date someone for the sake of dating.  My new standard for what counts as a good date is to ask myself, Would I rather be here with this man or at home, reading a book?  When I realized that dating Matt is like dating a library, it all made sense.  I love the library.  I will always be attracted to people who can teach me things.

I’d like to share another quote from Breaking Apart by Wendy Swallow.  This one is about dating, and it’s worth remembering.

  “[Jamie and I have] been best friends since eighth grade, but never a couple, never in love with each other.  I tell him about my worst dates, the dance, then about my list.  I ask if he thinks it’s crazy to have such a list, if he thinks it’s my standards that are making it so hard to find someone I like.

‘I’ve dated so many people I’ve gotten it down to a system by now,’ he says.  ‘There are five questions that seem to matter, and I can tell by how they answer them if I want to go out with them again.  First, do they like their parents?  Second, do they like their job?  Third, have they had their heart broken?  Fourth, do they have friends?  And last, do they believe they will have to work at a relationship?  If they can say yes to all of those, then I’m going to be more interested.’”

What do you think?  I may be biased here, because that’s a test I would pass with flying colors.  Though I do think most people’s relationships with their parents are more complicated than a simple “like” conveys…

* Har har!  I love a good data joke.


Raquelita said...

I don't know.... Not getting along with one's parents would not be a deal breaker for me nor would disliking their job. I think the latter is true for me especially because I've worked a few jobs that I really loathed while I was in college. Also I lived in a country where even before the economic downturn many highly educated people couldn't get jobs in their fields and were doing things like working retail to pay the bills.

Rosiecat said...

Hmm, you make some good points, R. My relationship with my parents is complicated, not by active dislike, but by the fact that in order to become the adult I want to be, I had to differentiate myself from them. I love my parents very much and want them to be around for a long time. But sometimes it takes a lot of effort on my part to get along with them. Our relationship is deep but not always easy.

As for jobs, yes! As academics, you and I can relate way too much to your point. I suppose with employment, it matters a lot how a person handles a less-than-ideal situation. I have had some real low moments in grad school and my postdoc, but I'm glad that while Matt and I were dating, we had the emotional fortitude to talk about that stuff without drowning in it. We have also spent many, many hours talking about his career, and I indulged him in those conversations because I loved him, not because I was endlessly fascinated by his problems.

I suppose I'm saying I agree with your points, and I can see how intense dislike for one's parents or job could be problematic for a dating partner. Maybe there's a fine line between being someone's partner and being their therapist :-)