A Brief Defense of Pickiness

by Caryn Alper under Date Night,Relationships,Single Life

Last week, I talked a bit about how you should give more matches a chance. Just because you’ve seen and ignored the same tired profiles over and over again in your zip code doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good match for you!  This is true. However, I tend to play devil’s advocate quite a bit (with myself) and was thinking: why date people you aren’t interested in just because they are available?  I might only find a dozen young men in my area who are my age, but what if I don’t want to date any of them? Should everyone in the same zip code just pair off with another person they find the least intolerable? Is that how marriage works?

I’ve come to the conclusion recently that some people are just naturally more picky, or, excuse me, selectively-inclined, than others. And this is fine. If we all dated like Jerry Seinfeld, no one would ever get married, family structure could break down entirely, and we’d all end up alone eating lots of cereal. But if everyone were forced to just “pick someone,” many people, though not necessarily all, would be miserable. If someone has found a happy medium between these extremes, please inform me what it looks like.

How do you know if you’re too picky? I’ve definitely been accused of having an overly healthy degree of selectivity. There are likely several reasons for this, none of which I’ll describe here, because honestly, I’m not sure what they are. But am I being too picky when I reject an offer to be set up with the cousin of someone’s neighbor who is 20 years my senior, lives in another country, and just finalized his divorce?  I say no. Mrs. Goldberg at shul might say otherwise. But I’m holding my ground. I mean, you see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet.

In my opinion, there’s no need to go out with someone out of pity, convenience, spite, revenge, or obligation. If you aren’t interested or don’t see the possibility of potential, it’s okay to pass. If you’re feeling that resistant toward meeting someone, it’s much more likely that you’ll feel resentful or act rudely than feel surprisingly delighted after meeting him or her. Feeling neutral is one thing – if you don’t know someone or feel on the fence, by all means – it’s just a date – go! But feeling repulsed by a photo, getting in an email argument over opposing views of the world, or even a strong negative gut feeling – these all warrant some selectivity.

Those examples might be pretty straightforward, but what if you don’t want to date someone because one of her nostrils is a little bigger than the other, or because he won’t let his food touch on the plate? Or because she didn’t go to an Ivy League school, or his glasses are out of style? This is where pickiness gets interesting. There can be a fine line between appropriate selectivity and self-sabotage, so give people the benefit of the doubt, but trust your gut.  There’s a lot more to say about this topic — stay tuned for a future related post. In the meantime, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Clueless this month, I’m Audi!

The Curse of the Analytical Thinker

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,Single Life

The other day, I braved my bathing suit fears and went to the pool at my new apartment complex. I was looking around. Some guys were handsome, some were clearly married or age inappropriate, and some were too obnoxious to warrant a second glance. Back in Arkansas, almost every guy at my complex fell into the third category, so I was relieved for some eye candy rather than eye rolling.

While lying outside, enjoying the warmth of early summer sunshine, I had an epiphany: almost none of the two dozen first dates I’ve been on in the last few years have resulted in a second date.

I made a list, of course, of my dating history. This doesn’t count men who failed pre-screening. There are over 24 guys on the list… some of them I couldn’t even remember names. I struggled for 10 minutes to come up with names, only to realize I didn’t know them, so I gave them descriptors. They went something like this:

  • Effeminate guy at Mexican restaurant
  • Law school mama’s boy
  • Hipster grad student
  • Boring guy with great hair

Then my head was flooded with questions.

Am I not being picky enough in pre-screening dates? Am I being too picky on the actual date? I tried to focus on the guys who were interested in seeing me again… Sometimes it’s just highly evident and mutual that we’re not a match. But that hasn’t been the case many of the times.

The other day, I read an article claiming that most of the time, dates 1-3 aren’t indicative of your relationship because:

  1. You’re on your best behavior
  2. You’re so concerned about presenting yourself that you forget to analyze the traits and behaviors of your date
  3. You want the other person to like you and forget you have to like them too

I tend to be somewhat the opposite. The engineer in me gets highly analytical, and while I take the time to engage in conversation and enjoy the food or activity of the date, my mind is constantly taking data measurements. No wonder I rarely feel sparks! There’s zero romance in a date when all you’re doing is checking boxes in your head. My new goal is to try to just enjoy the guy’s company. I’m not going to ignore red flags, but I also know that by date 3, if a guy makes it that far, I have enough of a sense of their character to decide to proceed with caution or cut them loose.