Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Random Thoughts Inspired by Online Dating

On Fishing

On Father's Day, someone I'm following on Twitter sent the following advice from his dad that I found exceedingly apropos to my own dips in the dating pool:

"There are other fish in the sea. But sometimes you have to be wise enough to cast your line in another fishing spot."

I decided to get back into online dating at first not so much to find dates, but as part of my own Anthropological Relationship Research Project where I examined my dating history and tried to learn from it. More specifically, if I could get a more comprehensive list of traits and personality types that I found attractive and/or was attracted to then somehow um... well... yeah. Basically I was hoping that maybe some kind of pattern would emerge or I'd have some kind of magical epiphany. I'm not sure if this is making any sense whatsoever, but when I saw that quote fly across my twitter stream, I realized that maybe - just maybe, I was fishing for salmon in a lake stocked with catfish.

Bodies (or, why "no fatties" is patently ridiculous)

As attractiveness is subjective, so is body type. While generally in our culture it's the females who bear the brunt of judgment and criticism regarding their bodies, women aren't the only ones who fall prey to subjective body type descriptions. I've never considered myself "full-figured" or a "BBW", but anywhere from "curvy" to "a little extra". I seriously don't know what those terms *really* mean anyway, but after looking at tons of online dating profiles, it seems that guys really don't either - even though they think they do.

I frequently see men who were clearly built like lumberjacks or wrestlers list their body type as "Average". Another guy who is tall and lanky will list the same. Buh? And let's not get started with the spectrum in between! For my online dating profile, I erred on choosing "full-figured" based on my body structure: I have broad shoulders, a killer rack, and booty for days. Not bragging, it's just a fact. But after checking out a fair number of men (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?), it seems guys are confused too. And while I've dated all across the spectrum and would like to think that I wouldn't completely eliminate a guy based on his body type, if there's anything I *have* learned in my dating escapades it's just how superficial and judgemental we all really, truly are. Even when we claim we aren't. Hell, especially when we claim we aren't.

Dating Rituals

Seriously, I feel like I'm pretty TERRIBLE at dating in general (though not as terrible as I am at MarioKart DS - that's just total FailTown =P). Not because I'm a bad date, but because many dating rituals and customs are not only strange to me, but are often put me in direct conflict with my nature. Plus what's "culturally and socially acceptable" changes so fast, it's very much like playing a game - well, like FLUXX, where the Goal (how you win the game) can change every few minutes. Cards you had that were winners are now losers, and vice versa.

The one thing that hasn't seemed to change is the idea that guys should do the asking. The pursuit. The chase. And while I love to be wooed, pursued, wined, and dined (it feels great to be desired and cherished), I'm a BIG fan of going after what you want. So I ask guys out. I flirt. I express interest. Regardless of the outcome, it can be a serious head trip due to ingrained societal norms. I'm also pretty terrible at discerning romantic interest. Basically I don't assume a guy is interested until he's made it patently obvious (honestly, even then I've been known to be Captain Oblivious - I am not traditionally good with "hints").

So here's to playing it by ear, having the confidence to put yourself out there, and not being too afraid of falling flat on your face.

The Sweetest Taboo

Don't be afraid to say what you're looking for. If it's a sexy night out, a fun date, a walk in the park, or a new friend - say so. Makes it much easier to get it, right? I've told many of my guy friends that you don't need to pretend to want a relationship to get in a woman's pants. Just ask her. Be elegant rather than vulgar, and tune your message to the individual lady - but seriously, sometimes we just wanna get laid too. (Or hang out at the park.)

[This post originally appeared in a less polished form in my journal on an online dating site.]

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