The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch — or several.
Hi Dating Nerd,
I started seeing this girl a few months back. We met through friends and she actually asked me out afterwards via Facebook chat. We went on a few dates and really hit it off, and the sex is pretty good — not spectacular but better than I usually have. Things have been going so smoothly that I’ve caught myself thinking, “What if she’s the one?” a few times, you know? There’s only one problem. She’s…. really not pretty. OK, that’s kind of mean. Just, face-wise, she’s not what I pictured myself ending up with, I guess. Am I being crazy shallow for having that as a deal-breaker, or is it valid?
– Facing the Music
First, let me say this: You’re a terrible person. Fortunately, you’re not alone. Pretty much all people are terrible in the exact same way. We all meet intelligent, kind people, then wish they didn’t have crooked teeth. It’s not a one-way street; most likely, someone has loved you in spite of the fact that they cringed every time they saw your weird-looking testicles. (Yeah, you.)
And now that we’re all on the same page about being selfish, superficial monsters, let’s discuss the properties of being such a person. Let’s talk about your problem, which is actually a pretty deep one. The issue here is that this girl you’re with may not actually be “the one.” You only think she is because you’ve made a common error: You think of “the one” the same way you think of a sandwich.
Hear me out.
Often, we fall into a weird habit of thinking of people as a collection of ingredients. Just how you want bacon, lettuce and tomato on a sandwich, you might want warmth, athleticism, and medium-large breasts in a partner. You’re like, “I’ll take a non-smoking Jewish princess with a side of Bachelor’s in Fine Arts.” (That’s a bit of psychological projection there.) But this isn’t a useful way of thinking about relationships. Not because your preferences aren’t real — but because what makes somebody “the one” isn’t a collection of the ingredients that turn you on, or comfort you when you feel depressed. “The one” is the person you’re ready to love fully — the person you want to sign up for, whatever that entails.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with your current girlfriend. She might do that weird thing you like in bed, but you’re unhappy about the fact that she doesn’t look like a Rembrandt painting when she’s doing it. You have a lot of fun when you go out on the weekend, but when you’re on the dance floor, you get anxious about the fact that you’re not cavorting with the bubble-butt-having perfect 10 who’s wiggling nearby. Basically, you feel like it’s possible that if you play your cards right, you could end up with some bombshell, so you’re always sort of planning your babe attraction strategy in the back of your head while you’re texting your real, actual girlfriend.
Let’s face the cruel facts of this situation. If you’re not happy with a perfectly-functioning relationship with someone who’s cute but not ravishing, then a perfectly functioning relationship isn’t your undisputed priority. And there is nothing wrong with this. Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing bone structure and/or fat deposits. The only really shameful thing is having bullshit relationships. You’re in a bullshit relationship if you’re going steady with your reasonably pretty best friend when you’d rather be screwing around with a drop-dead gorgeous blonde whose personality doesn’t align with yours whatsoever.
I’ve been there. Completely. I was dating this girl with a weird deformity in one eye. She was lovely. Sexually giving, mature, caring, a great communicator — just fantastic. A class act. But something wasn’t there — some kind of fundamental electricity that a good relationship has just didn’t show up. Maybe it was her personality, but I have a lingering suspicion that my perception of her personality was influenced by that weird thing with her eye.
Based on the tone of this little anecdote, you can probably guess what happened. Now, breaking up with her made me feel like a scumbag at first. But I was happier afterward, even though my friends told me I should stick with her on the grounds that she was a good woman, which she was. If that was coming between us, and I couldn’t fully shut it out, then she was going to be in a relationship with a guy who secretly couldn’t get over her eye thing. (And that’s not fair to her, either, because there are tons of guys out there who could love her fully, for whom she’d be “The One,” eye-thing or no.)
But don’t take this lightly. Look inside yourself. Acknowledge the fact that if you have functioning gonads, you will, for the rest of your life, feel occasionally horny for random strangers in yoga pants, no matter how hot a person you’re sleeping with. Realize that, even if you date a perfect 10 now, she won’t be that in 20 years — looks fade, both yours and hers. Understand that receiving an incredible blowjob from the most breathtakingly beautiful woman you’ve ever seen will be revelatory at first, but will seem normal (if still excellent) eventually.
Also, answer the following important questions:
When you think about breaking up with this girl, do you feel a profound sadness come over you?
Is that feeling way deeper than the pangs of lust you feel towards other people?
When she’s taking care of you (e.g., when you have explosive diarrhea), do you feel a warmer feeling than you did that one time you somehow woke up in bed with that centerfold-level stunner whose profile pictures you still creep on the regular?
Again, it’s totally appropriate if your answer to all of these questions is “no” — you’re the only one, ultimately, who knows what you need. Sometimes, the relationship you need is a one-night stand with a transgender dominatrix. Sometimes, all you need is a relationship with your left hand. Sometimes, the perfect-seeming person doesn’t fit perfectly, or even very well. Don’t stay in a relationship that doesn’t satisfy you because you think, “Well, I should be happy with this.” That’s not genuine.