2008-06-09

A Dating Paradigm for the ADD

Revolutionary new dating paradigms are all very well, but I can't help noticing that the Short Guy is taking a darned long time to reach the punchline. And he says I tell shaggy dog stories! In these ADD times, the only worthwhile solutions come in ten second soundbites. And the Elgin Street Irregulars are all over Attention Deficit Disorder, because... Ooh! Look! Shiny object!

Now, where was I? Uh, yeah... instant dating paradigms. We're not talking about high-speed dating - that's something else entirely. As an example of what I mean, Michael Pollan in the New York Times recently managed to reduce the complexities of good nutrition to three stunningly simple sentences: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That would probably even work for me. If cats count as vegetables.

So what we seek here is a way to measure dating suitability in a nanosecond. The less time you waste in deciding if the person before you is suitable, the more quickly you may proceed toward the decided charms of lolling and fubbing. Normally, the Irregulars would be all over formulating something like this, but, hey, it's sweltering out and we're feeling dopey. Conveniently, somebody's already done the work for us. Mira Kirshenbaum, a relationship therapist who seems to have a nice sideline in self-help books has just released a feel-good opus entitled When Good People Have Affairs, which according to this week's Maclean's is a book "for the decent person who made a mistake and got themselves into a complicated, messy, and dangerous situation."

Sort of off our chosen topic, because an affair presupposes a relationship already, which means that you've already figured out the... Ooh! Look! Shiny object!... However, a short paragraph toward the end of the review describes how Kirshenbaum attempts to do for dating, what Pollan did for food. Here's what she says to look for:

  • Not stupid.
  • Not crazy.
  • Not wierd.
  • Not mean.
  • Not ugly.
  • Not smelly.
Roughly twice the word count of Pollan's dictum, yes. But dating's roughly twice as complicated as food.

19 comments:

Milan said...

I would say 'not boring' takes precedence over all of those. 'Crazy' and 'smelly' may not make for the healthiest relationships, but they can produce the most dramatic.

Asteroidea Press said...

of course, those are all pretty subjective. it's easy to convince yourself that someone's not [fill in the blank] when your hormones are screaming at you to get into that person's pants.

but with that in mind, it's not bad.

coyote said...

Milan: You might want to define 'not boring' narrowly. Many people early on (nameless Irregulars included) have in the past actually sought out relationships of of dysfunctional tumult because they feel so big, electric and not-boring. These are not real relationships; they're projects. A certain number of these exhausting experiences, and boring becomes utterly desirable and sexy...

Megan: So true. Pants can do a whole mess of rapid deciding before any higher intellectual functions kick in... could be why relationship therapists are still writing self-help books, huh?

zoom said...

You make it sound so easy, boiling it down to six nots like that. There's gotta be a catch.

Andrea... said...

A very good post... And a very useful list. But sometimes the "crazy" aspects of someone's personality come out after the... Oh! Look! Shiny object!

Aggie said...

One of Astronaut Love Triangle's unfinished works is called "Crazy Still Works for Me"...

coyote said...

Zoom: I'm thinkin' it's all in the interpretation...

Andrea: Hey, baby!

Aggie: Those guys are geniuses.

XUP said...

I think crazy, weird and mean could be combined under “not dangerous”. Ugly and smelly should be left out because they’re just too subjective and anyway they're not a good reasons to eliminate someone, especially since we’ve already discovered that smelly actually makes the whole dating thing go ‘round. That just leaves stupid. But stupid has different dimensions. There’s Joey Tribbiani fun-stupid which is fine, if you’re not into finding someone with whom to have deep conversations; and then there’s dangerous-stupid, which can also be put under the “not dangerous” category. Ergo – the only thing we need to make sure of for a date is “not dangerous”.

Aggie said...

Wow, XUP, I like the way you've streamlined the whole process.
But, back to the stupid for a moment. I've always had trouble with the ridiculously naive, which is a special kind of stupid. And, those who feign naivety. Now those folks are dangerous, I say!

coyote said...

Awfully eager to collapse the categaries, aren't we? Are you saying you'd date anyone that isn't dangerous by some objective measure? I'd prefer a filter that actually discriminates. This one arguably can stand work, but I'm reasonably sure 'not dangerous' is not enough for many people.

FOr one thing, it would leave a world of objectionable partners that you theoretically wouldn't say 'no' to.

I can think of all kinds of, variously, 'crazy', 'wierd', 'mean' and 'stupid' that aren't dangerous, just annoying, tiresome, or incompatible with my special brand of crazy. I'd rather not waste any more time with them than I have already.

'Smelly' and 'ugly' certainly are subjective. But that's the point. Everyone gets to choose what that means to them.

Only certain kinds of pheromone related smells actually bear on attraction. If somebody smelled like cesspit or a dead body, by this argument they would still be acceptable dates.

Same with 'ugly'. Call me shallow, but if I'm gonna go out with somebody I'd like to feel attracted to them. Appearance is part of that. The whole dating exercise generally works better that way.

4th Dwarf said...

Coyote, this isn't a paradigm. It is screening criteria.

And it is the sort screening criteria that lets someone eliminate every possibility as a candidate for dating.

Not stupid: The smartest people are still stupid about some things. But let's give Kirshenbaum the benefit of the doubt and assume that she meant "smart", but didn't want to seem elitist.

Not crazy: Everyone is crazy. What you hope for in a partner is that they are crazy in a way that doesn't make you unhappy.

Not weird: Does Kirshenbaum actually recommend avoiding the weird? Coyote, if this catches on, neither of us will ever get a date again.

Not mean: On this one, Kirshenbaum is actually aiming low. I say we should actively seek out the kind.

Not ugly: Everybody has something ugly about them. Kirshenbaum is again trying not to sound elitist. We all want a partner who is pleasant to look at. Someone who makes our blood race a bit when we see them.

Not smelly: Now I have to ask, why did she stop here? What about:

* Not covered in pustules,
* Not prone to violent rages,
* Not a career criminal,
* Not a junkie,
* Not indecisive, or
* Not one of those people who leaves a tiny bit of milk in the jug so they don't have to refill it.

coyote said...

Not a paradigm? Oh, poop.

zoom said...

Damn. I was starting to think that with a few customizations I might be able to hang my hat on this one.

Nice try coyote.

XUP said...

If she’s going to dictate screening criteria then it might as well be a very short list. If we’re going to decide our own screening criteria then I’m gonna have to go with the Dwarf and create a very long and detailed list.

Milan said...

I have a date-testing system of my own. It consists of three tests which I think provide a good level of insight. Clearly, it is not definitive. That said, it has proven useful to me:

1) Would they be willing, at least in theory, to portage a canoe?

2) Do they appreciate the films of Hayao Miyazaki? (Those who do not are tragically lacking in imagination.)

3) Would my brothers like them?

The last, I realize, is useless for strangers. Suffice it to say, my brothers are both quite different from me and good judges of character. Someone upon whom we all agree has a lot going for him or herself.

Aggie said...

Milan,
1) I have portaged a canoe in my life... I didn't particularly enjoy it because a) I broke a nail, and
b) the damn mosquitoes were eating me alive, but that's not relevant. So, YES, to number #1.

2) I'm sure I would. I love the Japanese and their films and art. So, YES, to number #2.

3) I'm sure your brothers would adore me.

4th Dwarf said...

Oh, Aggie, thank you, that's the best laugh I've had all week. It's a shame that Milan seems to be mixed up with the Eponymous Horn woman.

Woodsy said...

Careful Aggie, going on a date with Milan could be hazardous to your teeth... read his answer to my comment on his post, Dating with Carbon-14

Pandora said...

Dwarfie, you've done it - a radical new dating paradigm: "actively seek out the kind".