So here's a post you won't see often, about a married man and his dating tribulations.
First off, my marital status is only relevant to those of you who take issue with it. My dating site of choice is OKCupid, and I have filtered my dating pool for non-monogamy. All prospective partners are either poly or practicing some other form of ENM. I'm not cheating; neither are they. These are the sorts of people who actually want to hear about Eva, and who insist on meeting her if we click, just as I would want to meet their partner(s). So, now that that's out of the way....
Since before I even started dating at the tender age of seventeen, I have heard variants of the sentence I heard tonight:
You're a wonderful person, but I don't see any kind of dating situation happening.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that or something semantically identical...I bet many more people would see some sort of dating situation happening. I mean, seriously. I can mouth it right along with them....the only question is: are they going to say "wonderful PERSON? or wonderful HUMAN BEING"?
Eva says it's the curse of empathy. I had to ask her to explain that to me. She said that people aren't comfortable with my acute perception of their emotions. My wife is usually very perceptive herself, but with respect, I don't think that's it at all.
Cathy (please note the spelling) and I are on a Greyhound, coming from Toronto to Kitchener. Well, I'm coming from Toronto to Kitchener; she's coming all the way from Fort Frances, her family home. We had corresponded throughout the summer, the old fashioned way we still did back then: with pen and paper. We were in that delicious phase where you know you've got a solid friendship and it's trembling on the knife-edge of becoming something even more meaningful.
The final letter I had sent her detailed my flaws as I understood them at that time. As many of them as I could dredge up, starting with what I imagined to be the most serious. (Wish I could remember what I wrote; I'm pretty sure today's version wouldn't resemble it all that closely, and I think that's a good thing.) Anyway, I closed the letter with "if you are still with me after reading that...please be with me, because I want to be with you."
I'd gone to Toronto to meet her and accompany her on the final leg of her 27-hour journey. She sleepwalked onto the bus, grabbed a window seat, and handed me several folded sheets of paper. She was out cold before I had even unfolded the first sheet.
Her version of my letter, detailing her quirks and foibles and issues. It closed with "if you're still with me after reading this, poke me awake."
I didn't. I let her sleep 'til Kitchener and then kissed her awake.
That letter was one of a very few genuinely adult, mature things I did over the length of that relationship. It turned out I was far too juvenile to cope effectively with clinical depression and I probably shouldn't have promised I would. But the sharing of flaws, or perceived flaws......why doesn't everyone do that? Shouldn't people be given a full picture of what it is they're undertaking?
Don't get me wrong. I don't harp on them. Just put them out there. Like so:
Hello out there. I'm Ken. Like me, this profile is always under construction. Let's get the three strikes out of the way first, shall we?
STRIKE ONE: I'm polyamorous. Married 19 years, I live with my wife Eva and her partner of four years, Mark. If this is bizarre to you, we're never going to get off the ground. If you're intrigued at all, I've proven pretty good at introducing people with open minds and open hearts to polyamory. If you said "so what, I have three partners myself", please do read on. Do know that Eva is extremely supportive and very much NOT the jealous type--and also that you will never be treated as a "secondary".
STRIKE TWO: I'm demisexual. That means I am literally incapable of casual sex. I need an emotional connection to be sexually attracted. Unlike many demis, I can build that emotional attraction pretty quickly, but I am never, ever going to treat you like a piece of meat.
STRIKE THREE: I don't drive. I was born very premature, and I spent a goodish chunk of the first six months of my life in an incubator. Ruined my eyes. And my flexibility.
What could possibly make up for these three flaws, not to mention a bunch of smaller ones? Maybe nothing, but here's what I've got.
I'm empathetic, passionate and compassionate. I'm endlessly patient, grounding, and calming. I love to talk and play with words and ideas. I listen. I love with my whole heart. And I've been told I have a few other skills of note.
I was told this, my current profile on OKCupid, would throw people off, that it was far too negative. I took that under advisement but eventually decided to leave it as it stood. It's authentic, which is a core value of mine, and it's a pretty fair filter. "If you're still with me after reading this..."
And it's yielded decent results this time. Three solid contacts, three people I'm interested in myself. Well, two, now. One gave me my favourite rejection line a few hours ago, after a second date. (OKCupid is not my only source of contacts; I have other people I'm pursuing as well. I have no expectations here, only hopes and desires -- and damnit am I sick of saying that, and having to explain the big difference between the two.)
It really is just like job interviewing. Your profile/resume has to hook them first -- no easy task -- but then comes the interview/date, and that's just fraught. Opportunities for rejection occur at the rate of about two per second. You'll never know which one activated the rejector seat unless you ask...and who has the stones to ask? You just got the gentle version, do you really want to hear the harsh one?
I used to take a line like
You're a wonderful person, but I don't see any kind of dating situation happening
as a surefire indicator of revulsion at my physical appearance. After all, what else could it mean? You tell me I'm a wonderful person, it's clear you're referring to my internals. For me, those internals are all that matter...if you're a wonderful person inside, your physical appearance is a moot point. Or...to me...it should be.
This is another one of those things that is almost unique to me. In all my life, I've met exactly two people who truly think the way I do. I married one of 'em. Other people put so much stock in superficial shit and it makes no sense to me, none at all. We're all going to be wrinkled old hags and geezers one day, uglier than homemade sin to the people who don't love us. Why don't people seem to get that? My god, people actually care about clothing, as if you're not going to be wearing completely DIFFERENT clothing tomorrow. What the hell is wrong with people? Let's talk about fundamentals here. Tell me how honest, how real, how compassionate, how resilient, how humorous, how empathetic you are. I don't give a flying fuck what colour you dyed your hair this season or how many pounds you carry.
So it must be that I'm repulsive, right?
Nope. Because I'm not. I'm never going to make the cover of Playgirl, but nor do I live under a bridge or in a swamp. If I was that ugly, I wouldn't have heard this on the second date, right?
It could be anything. Could be anything at all. Most likely, it's that their preferred dating style and mine don't match up, and that in itself could encompass any number of critical points, none of which are my fault. It'd be nice if they said as much, though. I'm the kind of person who wants to know about every obstacle. Maybe I can adapt. Maybe I can't. If I don't know...how do I know?
Dating is hard. Not as hard as it is for women, of course. Paraphrasing a meme I've seen:
"Man: I love dating. Even on the worst date, you learn something about yourself.
"Woman: No, on my worst date I'm raped and murdered."
Kind of puts a gentle rejection into the proper perspective, doesn't it?