Monday, January 31, 2011

Equal Opportunity Isn't Always a Good Thing

I have a date this week. Actually, I'm supposed to have a date this week, but I'm teetering on the edge of canceling. I can't tell if it's fear of rejection, or my gut telling me something's off, or what, but I keep thinking it won't go anywhere. This is the exact opposite of what I've been doing since I've become single, which is what I'd like to call "equal opportunity dating." In other words, I'd go out with just about anyone.

This attitude led to a series of dates that ended in ambivalence, not to mention a few relationships that never should have started in the first place and then went on far longer than they should have. When I think back on my dating experiences over the last 9 months or so, it's immediately clear that I often ignore important warning signs, so I'm trying to develop a list of "red flags" - things that should clue me in that maybe my date and I aren't a match made in heaven. Here's what I've got so far:

1. No college diploma and/or no love of lifelong learning. I'm not going to automatically rule out someone who didn't go to or finish college, but that can be a dealbreaker for me, especially when combined with no interest in literature, current events, or - at the very least - the writings of David Sedaris.

2. A history of not finishing things. Like school. Or bouncing from job to job.

3. Describing himself as "laid back" or "chill" or "go with the flow." I've discovered that this is often code for what I perceive to be "a lack of ambition or energy" or "a tendency to procrastinate" or "laziness." I realize that my perception might not be entirely accurate or fair, but this approach to life will drive me crazy nonetheless.

4. Referring to all one's exes as "crazy." You picked 'em, buddy, which at the very least makes you a poor judge of character. It also says nothing for his ability to reflect on and accept responsibility for his role in the demise of a relationship.

5. No desire for children. I kinda think I want a couple spawn one day, so I need someone who's at least open to that possibility. If he's willing to bear them, even better.

6. He makes one of our early dates a BYO occasion - at his house. I don't mind paying my own way on a date, but when I invite someone over to my place I generally try to stock his drink of choice, or at the very least have options on hand. To me, that's part of being a good hostess. I wouldn't dream of saying, "Bring your own beverage," especially not when I want to make a good impression.

7. He's on parole or probation, has a suspended driver's license, or has had recent run-ins with the law that are anything more serious than a speeding ticket. I believe people have the right to make mistakes and be forgiven for them, but a history of these kind of stupid mistakes isn't okay with me.

Before you ask: yes, every single one of these red flags has popped up in my last year of dating. In one case, a guy racked up several of them early on (#1, 4, 5, 6, & 7) and I still continued to see him for 3 months, because apparently I really know how to pick 'em.

The guy I'm supposed to meet this week has already set off my warning bells a couple times - he's got part of #1, a lot of 2, and maybe a little of 3 - and so I'm trying to stay aware of how these signs have panned out historically. But I'm conflicted: on the one hand, I don't want to write off a good guy unfairly, but on the other hand, I don't want to waste his time or mine when I already know what my dealbreakers are.

I'm also questioning how much of these are real dealbreakers, and how much I use them as ways to avoid rejection and getting hurt. Obviously, there's no question about some items on the list, but I don't want to over-emphasize them as a defense mechanism. Doesn't there need to be some wiggle room for an amazing connection with someone? Or is that an excuse to ignore the warning signs? Sometimes I feel so out-of-practice when it comes to dating, and so unsure of my own judgment, that I don't know what the answers are anymore.


Erin said...

A friend sent me the following response to this blog post. I'm sharing it with you because it's one of the funniest and most insightful things I've read in a while, and it's just too good to keep to myself. It should be required reading for all men and women venturing into the dating pool. Enjoy!

Love, E

While I agree with your list of men non-negotiables, I find them TOO specific. Meaning, sure, those things are all terrible, but they're all symptomatic of other things. The EASIEST list of them all, and I've been honing it since 2001, is the following:

1) Does not live with parents and does not have roommates.
2) Has health insurance.
3) Enjoys eating pussy.

This generally gets rid of the slackers and the retards (they live with roommates and parents)(they are in between jobs and therefore not insured) and the Republicans (Republicans only want their dicks sucked). While these dudes may not like David Sedaris (to be fair, I loathe Sedaris), they have potential to like other things; clearly they've liked something enough in the world to be able to afford housing, be given health insurance, and they're open-minded enough to eat pussy.

If they do have a suspended license or felony, it's usually for some white collar offense (drunk driving / eating pussy while driving / tax evasion) and those things I can deal with because a) he has his own place b) we presume he can afford dinner and c) he eats pussy.

The only thing that doesn't fit with this dynamic is the kids thing and I've thought about that plenty; however, the fact is, I don't WANT kids with a dude that doesn't a) have his own place b) have health insurance and c) eat pussy. So guys that fill these categories always get a pass for a few dates because if I find out later that he doesn't want kids, I at least got dinner paid for (because he can afford it) and b) my pussy was eaten.

See? It's SO SIMPLE. If your dude fills these categories, it's a yes. If not, give it one date, keep it simple, practice your kissing, never text again. So much shit is hard these days (that's what she said) - dating need not be one of them.

Rena said...

Best. Response. Ever. husband "failed" the criteria I had loosely established when I was single, and I couldn't be happier. Sometimes they just slip through. :) :) :)

Katherine C. James said...

I find your red flag list extremely wise. Don't let it keep you from someone who intrigues, but know that the choices people make are keys to who they are. Watch what people do more than what they say.

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