Monday, April 09, 2007

The Golden Chisel of Opportunity

Lat night I had Easter dinner over at the Schnekenburgers - 'cause my family deserted me for a 5 hour church service, but we won't talk about that.

Also at Easter dinner were Austin and Emma. So we were all sitting around post-feast, in a bit of an overindulgence coma as a result of the amazing meal Joslyn had made. We got to talking about relationships, and more specifically hooking-up (how is it I always end up in weird conversations about relationships or sex or some other odd thing?).
We got to talking about what a good way to meet somebody else would be. And at one point in the conversation because of several things I had said Austin made the comment that I had ruled out any opportunities to meet anybody else. (I don't remember the exact words he said, but it was mostly to that effect).
So my response was as follows:
"No, no, don't misunderstand me , it's NOT like I'm over here in my block of ice and only the select few with the golden chisel of opportunity have a chance, that's not what I'm saying"
to which of course the ever witty and astute Austin replied "Come on Mir, if you're in a block of ice, that chisel is useless - gold is way to soft to work through that - it's gonna need a diamond tip or something - maybe a Hammer of Justice!"
(again, I'm sure I'm messing up the quotes just a little, but the essence shines through!)
We all had a great laugh about it last night, it was a super funny moment.

Now I've been home all day (called in sick this morning - I think the after effects of the overindulgence coma of last night) and I've been kind of really thinking about that conversation we had yesterday. I was having some difficulty articulating what I was thinking and what I felt.

I was talking about how I have a difficult time with any kind of singles thing where the focus is finding a boyfriend or girlfriend. I used Internet dating as an example. I just feel it's too focused for lack of a better word. Again, I am struggling to pin-point what I mean.
I also said that I don't like the idea of a stranger coming up to someone and saying something like "hey, can I give you my number?". In the conversation somewhere was also my belief that the men should be doing the chasing, and that I personally was not comfortable with being forward. I think that's where the whole - how are you suppose to meet him if he's not allowed to talk to you thing came up - which was the precursor to my golden chisel comment above.

Ok - so in my ponderings today, I think I can better express what it is that bothers me. I have a problem with being judged based on my appearance. Ok before getting into the details, let me put up a disclaimer - I am not suggesting that my beliefs are right, or that opposing or different views are wrong. I just want to tell you what I figured out I believe.

My issue has several aspects:

1. I have a deep routed belief that someone who makes a judgement like "I want to go out with you" based on your appearance - is only really interested in having sex with you, deep down.

2. I think that the best anyone has to offer should be more than just how they look.

3. I think that my inside is not accurately reflected by my outside - and I want to be valued for the things that I consider valuable like my smarts and my sense of humour and people friendliness. (then I started thinking if this is what all smart ugly people say or think because they can never be good looking) (don't worry, I don't think I'm ugly)

4. Which makes me secretly (well not so secretly anymore I guess) scared that if all I have to start with is how I look - nobody worthwhile is ever going to take the time to find out the stuff about me that I think is more important.

5. I definitely have a serious discomfort with blatant sexuality. As an adjunct, I fell uncomfortable with being "checked-out" or - well you know what I mean.

Whew!! Ok I know that's probably way more information than anybody wanted know about me - and to be honest maybe a little more than I wanted to know about myself. But I have this nasty habit of analyzing human behaviour - you'd think it was my job or something;)

So I blogged it to have record of it. So that I couldn't just have figured it out today, and then let it fade. The secret to learning something about yourself is figuring out if that knowledge encourages you to do something differently. Because it's the change in behaviour that changes your life. So I didn't want my thoughts from today to fade into nothing.


Anonymous said...

On point 1. Physical attraction is important Mir. It's not the be all and end all, but it is important. I don't see anything wrong with somebody thinking, "Gee she's really pretty. I'd like to get to know her better" I work a little backwards myself. I usually find somebody interesting and then develop a physical attraction later, we work differently.
On point 3&4. I happen to think you are a lovely and loveable person, but if you arn't willing to let people start the getting to know you phase based on looks, then you've got to give them something else to be attracted to. That means letting them get to know you right out of the gates. This may require you to be a little more aggressive than you are used to being.

On point 4&5. I'm confused, you're afraid that men don't like the packaging, and you don't like it when they do?

MiraFabulous said...

Yep - I didn't say it had to make sense, just laying out what my core beliefs are.

That's part of what makes core beleifs so weird - they exist and underly everything but they usually don't make sense.

Way to be a good counsellor though - I use that "I'm confused" line on my clients all the time when things don't match-up. It's a gentle way to challenge someone on what they believe and how it doesn;t make sense.

ghanima said...

May I ask what could have caused you to have such an appearance-heavy thought process regarding the beginning stages of dating? All of the points you raise seem to me to all be ways of saying that you don't want to be judged based on appearances.

Anonymous said...

Don't we all judge based on appearances though (at least initially)? Like, the way somebody dresses (e.g. big, baggy pants hanging so low they show undies vs. dressed professionally in a shirt and dress pants), the way somebody styles their hair (e.g. dreadlocks vs. hair in a ponytail vs. hair cut short), etc.?

I think we're all "checking-out" one another, whether it's consciously done or subconsciously done. And not necessarily for dating purposes...I think we do it when we decide whether or not to sit next to somebody on the subway, when we're deciding whether or not to befriend someone, etc. So I think it's just natural to choose to ask someone out based on the way they look. It's definitely possible to decide to date somebody based on something other than looks, but (as Emma said) you have to be more aggressive and give them something more to work with than just your appearance.

Just out of curiosity, is there an ideal dating scenario you have in mind? Like, how do you envision the series of events leading up to and into your next relationship? Obviously you can't know for sure, but what would you like to happen?

MiraFabulous said...

Yeah, Maybe I'm in the midst of an existential crisis and bucking against the conditions under which we make judgements.

I would agree that all of the core beliefs that I listed focus around appearance. But I think they extrapolate from there a little towards more than just the basic slob/neat dicotomy that Margaret mentioned (which I totally agree with you on Margaret)towards a more sexual intrepretation based on appearance.

So I want to question 2 things -

#1 - are we fair to judge others based on appearances (any kind) like the subway example that Margaret gave. Because I think we all do it.
That type of judgement doesn't make me uncomfortable - and I think that I conform to the norms in this arena.

#2 - when you add the element of a romantic relationship to this, this is where things get squirmy for me. I agree Emma that physical attraction does not have to be a bad thing. I think I can be cute and pretty and I don't mind being recognized or complimented for these things. It's the sexual judgement that ties into this that makes me uncomfortable. But it's when I feel like I'm being judged on a sexual plane (think stereotypical walking past construction workers on their lunch break here)that I have issue. And I guess I expanded my emotional experience of that to flow from the apropriate (being oogled) to the more conservative (being checked-out).

As far as my perfect way to meet somebody/get together senario - that's easy! Meet somebody that you enjoy being around, develop a good friendship, realize you both want to be more than just friends - BOOM - relationship with the foundation of a solid friendship. I for sure believe that's the best way to go.

Anonymous said...

In the absence of time for jotting down my real thoughts on this, read this.


ghanima said...

In response to your first question, no, I don't believe it's "fair" for people to judge one another based upon appearances. I do, however, think it's human. Given that, I think it's unrealistic to be ashamed of our tendencies to judge based upon appearances. Personally, I just accept that I do, and try to keep it in check.

As for your second point, I have to admit that I'm concerned that you're so bothered that someone would find you sexually attractive based solely upon your appearance. It's not like that's something you can control, so what good does it do to get upset about it? Obviously, someone who is interested in you entirely because he thinks you look like the sort of person he'd want to have sex with isn't a person you'd want to have a meaningful relationship with, so it's not as if you'd give him the satisfaction of even talking to him...

I guess what I'm saying is that you're out of the league of anyone who would make a snap decision about you like that, right? So why both being unsettled by it?

Anonymous said...

As Emma mentioned, when someone first lays eyes on you, what else do they have to go on besides what you look like? I suppose if you're giving a speech on something interesting, they could realize how smart you are, but barring that sort of occurance, they pretty much start with looks.

And frankly, if they're not interested in bumping uglies, what's the point of starting a relationship? They could end up being your best friend in the world, but for a romantic relationship I'd hope they would be physically attracted to you.

I don't think there's anything at all wrong with someone approaching you with that physical attraction being the first hook set. That's not to say they will expect sex from you. It's just to say they'd be excited about the prospect of it some day happening.

Wouldn't it suck if you met someone who became your best friend in the world but when it came time for some intimate closeness they just turned you away?

It's all part of a complete breakfast. Or relationship.

In the end, before any sort of meaningful physical contact took place, you'd have had plenty of time to evaluate them as a person. If a lavish sexual appetite is part of that, then so much the better.

Anonymous said...

I think most people have covered a lot of what I wanted to. Things got a little out of hand, mostly because I was teasing you incessantly on this subject.

What bothered me most is that you seemed to be completely closed to just meeting some random guy off the street. You want a guy who's attracted to your non-physical traits (personality, intelligence, humour, etc.). There's nothing wrong with that, but as other people have mentioned, you have to start with something. People need time to discover the complete you, but you've already cut them off. The exception is meeting people through friends, where you can get exposure without any kind of expectation... but that can run out of steam real quick as your friends run out of friends.

I guess my objection is that you're being too difficult to get to know... if a guy gives you his number right off the bat, you assume he's only interested in your body. What about at the end of a evening? What if it's at the beginning, but he says "hey, you seem like a really interesting person, do you mind if I give you my number?" What if he says he wants to get to know you? It seems to me you've setup the rules to be too constraining (hence the golden chisel of opportunity vs. block of ice). You're automatically passing a judgement on the intentions of a guy you barely or don't know, or the guy has to approach you in just the right way.

I agree that people who are too focussed on meeting someone romantically is off-putting. Meat-market social events would be overwhelming, though I don't think I've ever been to one myself (or I've never been a target ;) ). In general, I've had the most success when meeting someone isn't even remotely on my mind.

But I think your approach to becoming friends with someone before the two of you randomly, but simultaneously, fall in love ... while not necessarily unrealistic, isn't a great idea. Because if you value the friendship, the only way to retain it is to marry the person. Or have a very long time apart after the break-up.

Just because someone finds you physically attractive doesn't mean that they just want to sex you up right away (your issue aspect #1). That may be a long-term "goal," provided they find they are compatible with you in other ways (which is what dating is all about)... but why is that a bad thing? You do want sex after you marry the guy, right? (I'll just go ahead and assume yes.) You want to find a guy who's physically attracted to you, but is willing to wait for it. Because you're worth it. And yes, your outside isn't far off from your inside, 'cause you're awesome (aspect #3). And I'm not afraid to say that on the Internet. :p

So yes, for the vast majority of people you will meet, your looks is all they have to start with. But the people who are worthwhile being with will bother to find out about all your other facets (aspect #4). It's your responsibility to make sure that finding that stuff out isn't hard to do, to give him a chance to do so, and also to find that kind of stuff out about him. The guys who aren't worthwhile - well, it's usually pretty evident after a date or two, so why worry about it?

You're obviously looking for a fairly conservative man. They do exist, and I'm sure you'll meet one who's as fabulous as you are. But you need to learn to live a bit more in the centre of things, rather than the extremes. You really have nothing to be afraid of.