Maybe that phrase has fallen out of use over the years, but the meaning behind it still holds true. It is safe, maybe too safe, when you choose someone who is a carbon copy of yourself — or worse, someone you have cobbled together into what you think you want.
There is a tendency in our lives to constantly want to move faster. We have a society obsessed with speed and efficiency. We can’t waste time. If a date is at all not up to par, we want to move on immediately. We’re getting older. We have all these wants (marriage, family, money) and can’t get bogged down with getting to know someone, spending time together, that old-time stuff like courting and sparking.
But those rituals of slow acclimatization to one another had valid reasoning behind them. People invested time and immersed themselves in the process. When they chose to part, it was because they had meaningful reasons to not continue on together. Reasons not at all like the design of their website or that they did not dress fashionably enough.
Homogeny is not as exciting as difference. It doesn’t challenge us. There is no opportunity to learn anything new, to grow as a person. You essentially choose a “yes” man by selecting a mate who shares all of your likes and dislikes, all of your values. And doing so may not reflect well on your ability to demonstrate tolerance, to accept new ideas or to defend your own beliefs.
Getting to Know You…Getting to Know All About You…
What dating science can tell us for sure is that the less you know about one another, the better. This holds true in the positive and the negative. It gives you more terrain to explore together, more to learn about one another and fodder for interesting conversations. It also prevents you from taking that one step too far.
Research has found a cascade effect takes place where, once a single objectionable trait has been noticed, it is more likely that subsequent ones will catch our attention. It is as if a bubble bursts, and other traits, which may be less damaging, are viewed just as harshly, seen as compounding evidence that a relationship is doomed.
So, the more a person finds out about you in the beginning, the greater chance that they’ll discover something about you to dislike. With precious little glue in the relationship to bind you together during the early stages, these small faults may cause the potential relationship to crumble. Even if they are minor (sometimes ridiculously so), without enough emotional force to counter them, they are easily blown out of proportion.
Forgo the Fantasy
Part of the secret to overcoming this tendency to find fault is to relinquish the fantasy of finding a perfect soul mate. Let’s face facts. None of us is perfect. None. Zero. If you are projecting this expectation onto a date, you are dooming yourself to failure. People cannot live up to an ideal where no one ever says a hurtful thing or believes something you find objectionable.
We are more than the sum of our parts. Lists of aspects of our selves — such as how many partners we’ve had, what kinds of jobs we’ve held — no matter how long and detailed, are not all-inclusive. They manage to somehow lose the person behind them, described within them.
We tend to think our own judgment is best, infallible, however, it is really easy for us to imagine things about a potential partner that either aren’t true or aren’t really there. These projections of what we want or secretly desire cause us to construct in our minds a person who is not necessarily anything like the real person whose profile we have in front of us.
This is one more argument in support of honesty and specificity in your profile. You provide potential dates one less bump in the road to overcome later, one less expectation which may go unfulfilled or be used to build an unreal vision of who you are.
We all grow and change as people. What you want now is likely radically different than what you wanted for yourself or in a partner five, ten or twenty years ago. Imagine yourself trapped in a life with the partner you considered ideal in high school, in college, in your twenties or thirties. It makes no more sense to attempt to create a “perfect” person (from matching traits) for who you are in your current dating life. Very likely over time you will both change — and not necessarily along the same lines.
What Do I Do?
It is best to temper expectations when approaching a new relationship. Silence that judgmental part of yourself. Explore on your own/within yourself why you may obsess over a particular facet of your partner’s personality or find it sufficiently negative to question moving forward. Many times, if you are willing to look deep enough, you’ll find that the problem does not lie with the other person, it is the result of your own insecurities.
Stick it out, and try to understand more about your date. Try being forgiving and open and see what develops. You may have to pretend to it at first, it may sting your pride a little, but tell yourself you will ignore any strong feeling of dislike you experience regarding any part of the other person’s lifestyle or choices (as long as it doesn’t threaten your health or safety).
For example, say to yourself: Those are his music choices, I have my own. Those are the ways she spends her money, I have mine. You don’t have to agree. And there is no need to identify yourself with them, take control of them or take responsibility for them. Like the mountains, they simply are.
Online Dating: Why it Fails
12 February 2007
Why Perfect Dates Make Lousy Partners
12 February 2008
Photo by Angi Unruh @ http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=3018249