"Who do you want to attract? Someone more like yourself or someone who complements you?"
Don't tell other writers that I let the cat out of the bag, but procrastination is a big part of the writing process. I wish I could tell you that it's always easy to sit down and write. The truth is that sometimes when I need to write, instead I putter around my apartment, clean, stare out the window, check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and then Facebook again, i.e. anything other than write.
This week has felt like a Master class in Procrastination, with the new Cold War Kids album as the soundtrack.
We started my friend Ariana's Matchmaker week several days ago. I'd been meaning to write about it, but then I got sick, and I needed to write about Date #7, then I had other work to do, and I hadn't figured out how to write about it so I was avoiding it.
There was nothing wrong with the start of Ariana's Matchmaker week, but it had neither the drama of writing the Romantic profile during my brother Greg's week (Week 5: Looking for Love...?) nor the raucous shenanigans the Confident profile of my friend Chelsea's week (Week 6: Tequila, Zombies, and Being High Maintenance).
Ariana and I had talked about who we were trying to attract, but we didn't come up with any specific type. I said maybe tattooed guys who ride motorcycles, since that's the opposite of the guys I've been dating, but there aren't a ton of those type of guys on OkCupid. I just realized we used the word "badass" twice, so maybe that helps with that target demographic? We did try to show my outdoorsy side, as well as my creative, healthy, and adventurous sides. It was also good to catch up with Ariana, she's been living in Tennessee for a bit and I miss being able to chat with her over coffee or on a long walk. The experiment has been a fun excuse to catch up with friends.
But I hadn't found that Thing to write about. Usually these Things politely appear during the writing of the profile, or even in the first few days of the Matchmaker week. This one hid for the better part of a week, and then tapped me on the shoulder and punched me in the nose.
I was chatting with a friend, funnily enough on OkCupid because he'd found the dating experiment profile. We started talking about our respective OkCupid experiences, and we've both had trouble attracting people that we could actually be in relationships with. I expressed some frustration that one of my goals of the experiment was to figure out how to attract the type of guys that I wanted to attract, but I'd at least been learning more about the types of guys that I'm compatible with so at least that should help. And then he asked me two rather simple questions, ones which I thought I basically knew the answers to: "Who do you want to attract? Someone more like yourself or someone who complements you?" And as I tried to articulate answers, I was confounded. Stumped. Baffled. I got into a bit of a mood. I washed dishes, dyed my hair, and did anything I could think of to avoid these questions. I feel like I've learned so much, I've been writing about the things I'm learning, and I realized recently that the experiment has been going on for three months! So what have I learned about what kind of guy I'm looking for?
Ok well let's start with some easy ones:
1) Monogamous: I hadn't thought that much about it before the experiment, but recent events have made me realize that monogamy really is something that I am looking for right now. I don't believe that everyone has to be monogamous, but it seems to be the best thing for me at this point.
2) Taller than me: Sorry guys, I tried dating guys my height or shorter but I clearly prefer dating guys who are taller than me. I never say never, but call it a strong preference.
While we're at it:
3) Mutual physical attraction: It may sound obvious, but I've realized it is very important to me.
We've gotten through some more obvious ones, so let's dig in:
4) Not Too "Normal": I'd long felt that I shouldn't date "normal" guys, but in Week 3 my cousin Emily gave me a good functional definition of Too Normal, "they haven’t thought of breaking out of social constructs." You don't have to be breaking all social norms, but you're aware of social norms and make conscious choices of which social constructs you abide by and which you eschew.
5) Communicative: This was definitely something I valued before the experiment but it's become even more important. My own communication skills have been improving, and I've been learning that it's better to have the awkward conversations than avoid them and hope/assume the other person is on the same page. Bachelor #9 and Bachelor #13 have both helped me see this. Also, I include listening skills under the Communicative umbrella, as speaking and listening are both important parts of communication.
6) Easy-Going/Chill: I've noticed this with a few of the Bachelors, but I think I first became very aware of it on Date #3: A Classy Date with Bachelor #4. I'm more at ease around guys who are at ease. I like guys that can go with the flow, and enjoy the journey.
7) Generally Positive Outlook: Bachelor #6 brought this one front and center for me (as a negative example, and several of the bachelors have been positive examples). We all have complaints, concerns, or bad moods, but I need to be with someone who can at least look for silver linings instead of looking for more dark clouds.
8) Grounded/Emotionally Mature: I'm still working on how to explain this one, but it's a quality that B#9 has and it sets him apart from every other guy I've been in a relationship with. It's related to Easy-Going/Chill but on a different level. The best way to explain it is that he's been there while I'm dealing with some tough stuff, and when I'm emotionally or physically bouncing off the walls (my Rubber Ball Heart, and when I'm nervous I'm a human pinball (not literally bouncing off walls)) he's calm, steady, supportive and patient. He doesn't make it about him and go ricocheting in a different direction (which is what most guys I've dated would do). But this also takes adjusting to. I'm used to Guys Who Disappear and expect him to do the same, so it's nice but also sometimes a surprise when he acts differently.
9) Kind: This was definitely not on my priority list when I was younger, but in the past few years I've realized it's important for me. A guy used to really get my attention if he argued with me, and now I know that I don't want to be in a relationship full of arguments. I like guys who have opinions and can articulate them, and I don't want to be with a guy who agrees with me just for the sake of agreeing with me. But having different opinions doesn't mean you have to fight.
I'm still trying to figure out whether I'm best with a guy who is more similar or complementary. It seems that I'm looking for a guy who is similar to me in many ways, but there are some aspects where different/complementary seems to work better.
Also, things I've learned about me:
1) Texting is my preferred mode of communication: a phone call now and then is good (and any important conversations should happen face to face), but overall texting is what I prefer for checking in or conveying information. However, texting does have some problems. Sometimes it can be tough to read someone's tone in a text, especially if I don't know them well. Also, if someone takes 6+ hours to reply to a text it freaks me out. See: Guys Who Disappear.
2) A lot changes for me in a week: B#9 and I have been seeing each other once a week, and it's made me realize how much changes for me in a week. I'm a freelancer, so the types of jobs I have from week to week can vary widely. My hair color currently is changing several times per week (bright red, dark blue, blonde, and lavender, just in the past week or two). Luckily I'm not the type of person whose life plan changes on a weekly basis, but there's always a lot to catch up on. I used to think that I should be with someone whose life changed just as quickly, because they could understand and keep up. But I've started to wonder if it's actually better to be with someone whose life is a bit more stable, because if both people's lives are changing quickly it might be hard to have a stable relationship. Definitely something to think about and hopefully test out.
3) I have a hard time talking about my feelings: I'm an artist, I'm a writer, I'm writing a blog about all of this, you'd think it'd be easy-peasy for me to talk about my feelings in real life. It's not. A few years ago a friend told me that when I talk about feelings it's like I'm going underwater, I take a deep breath and hold my breath during the conversation. A few friends teased me lately about using funny voices when I am talking about/mocking what I'm feeling. But I'm working on it. I often quickly dismiss my own feelings as "crazy" and I'm trying to stop using that word entirely. And the blog has actually been good for me because it forces me to be more honest with the bachelors (and more honest with myself).
4) My brain is rather monogamous: I'm really not used to dating more than one guy at a time, much less continuing to seek out more guys to date. Currently I'm seeing B#9 once a week, I have a second date planned with B#13 and a first date planned with B#12. Luckily it doesn't feel like I'm cheating on anyone, but it's been taking extra prompting to get myself to log onto OkCupid. I'm not used to having much of a dating life to juggle, but it's definitely not a bad problem to have!
5) I'm not the most patient person: If it weren't for the experiment, I would have de-activated my OkCupid account a while ago. Some because of that feeling of "Oh right, I should reply to that message" (Ariana wanted me to reply to messages this week, some weeks the Matchmaker has responded to messages, I think it's interesting to see the different results.) But I think it's good that the experiment forces me to be more patient (and/or persistent).
I really have been learning so much, and at times it's been surprisingly exhausting to be having epiphanies every other day and breakdowns to breakthroughs, and figure out how to write about it in a way that all the bachelors and my whole extended family can read. But I love a good challenge, which is why I continually create them for myself. So thanks for reading :)
Also, I've been meaning to write about this:
Metro, a daily newspaper in NYC, Philadelphia, and Boston, did a story about the experiment and blog, and you can read the article here. It also appeared in print in all 3 cities, which is pretty cool! I had fun talking to Lakshmi Gandhi about the experiment, and after three months of writing about other people, it was interesting to read someone else's writing about me!