I don’t know what I want in a woman. Or a relationship. No idea.
As a single guy in his early 30’s who’s never been able to hold on to any relationship for more than a month, I’ve got a fairly diverse dating background. True, I haven’t dated nearly as much as maybe I should have throughout my dating career, but between the women I’ve dated, women I wanted to date but never did, women who wanted to date me but never did, and even just friends who happen to be women, I’ve come to the stunning realization: I don’t even know what I’m looking for anymore.
Last time I came to this realization, I tried to codify some attributes of a desirable mate in a list (before thinking too much of this list, keep in mind I wrote it seven years ago). This ended up being a bad idea for several reasons. First, any girl (well, OK, two girls) I dated who then found that list automatically compared herself to it, which kinda screwed things up between us. Second, as times change, people change, and a lot of the things I found important at the time are now no longer important, whereas now new things are important. Third, it becomes a lot easier to dismiss a woman who otherwise would have made a wonderful partner if she doesn’t live up to some pre-approved set of standards (kind of the same as the first point, but from my point of view instead of hers). Maybe a woman has some quality that you didn’t even realize you were looking for until you found it, or she has other great qualities that make up for a lack of something on the list, or a woman that fits all the attributes is either impossible to find and/or wouldn’t be interested in you anyway.
The point is, I don’t do lists anymore. But it does leave me a little blind when it comes to the dating scene. Without anything terribly concrete to guide my brain, I’ve got to trust my heart and perhaps rely on it a little too much, which often is a problem because I don’t trust my heart to make good decisions. My heart likes to flip-flop based on the silliest Seinfeld-ian things, and I end up breaking off a relationship that could’ve had potential, or (more often) falling for women who, in the end, would not be good for me, nor I for them.
The problem is, I don’t know what kind of woman would be good for me.
It’s really hard maintaining even the desire to go out and date when you’ve got nothing really to guide you. I mean, sure, there are some pretty obvious things to look out for and avoid (“no puppy-stranglers,” for example, or “not a lesbian”). Lately it seems most of the women I’ve dated have been between “women I’m attracted to (not just physically, but overall)” and “women with whom I have much of anything in common,” though I’d rather not get into too many details on a public blog like this. I know that a lot of guys go for broke on the attraction angle and just live with the fact that many, if not most, of their hobbies and interests will be separate from their wife. I’m not sure if I can do that, and I’m also not sure whether I should keep searching until I find someone with whom I share a lot of interests and a mutual attraction, or whether I should let one go to focus on the other. That’s not necessarily settling as much as it is rearranging priorities (especially since a lot of my interests are, like, really niche interests, at least as far as most women in LDS culture are concerned).
The other problem with dating women that have similar interests to yours is that the little differences tend to be more problematic than the big differences between you and someone else. Take, for example, the silly example of Star Trek fandom. If someone I was dating didn’t care too much for Star Trek and liked, say, So You Think You Can Dance more, I’d be all, “Yeah, OK, that’s fine, different strokes for different folks.” But if she liked Star Trek: Voyager way more than Star Trek: The Next Generation, then OMG it is ON!!!! Nobody badmouths Picard or praises Janeway in my home, b^#&@!!!
Now, realistically, that isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is a fact that almost every nerdy girl I’ve dated recently has been waaay into either Doctor Who or the recent rash of comic book movies, neither of which really holds my interest (for reasons I can delineate probably a little too specifically), so it’s been hard to bond over similar interests when really, they haven’t been that similar after all. Once again, I could overlook all of these things if an attraction existed independently of them, but when you’re trying to build a relationship with someone using these similar interests as a starting point, it ends up not working at all. (It also doesn’t help that most nerdy girls I’ve dated have also had little to no experience in the dating realm either, and I’m not exactly the best person to teach someone how to be a good girlfriend after they’ve had ten or twenty years of non-experience.) So if building off common interests isn’t the place I should start, what is?
There’s that oft-quoted passage from Alice and Wonderland, where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which road she should take, and he responds that it depends on where she wants to go. When she admits she doesn’t know where she wants to go, the Cat then replies that then it doesn’t matter which road she takes. That’s how dating has felt for me for a while: when I’m not even sure what kind of relationship I’m looking for, how will I know if I’ve found it?
I have no conclusions to draw from all of this. I just wanted to share.