DATING FOR DUMMIES
In honor of the New Year, Paul Nakayama and guest columnist Anastasia Kim swear off mental diarrhea, resolve to get over themselves, and break other bad dating habits.
ISSUE: Winter 2010
DEPT: The Awful Truth
STORY: Paul Nakayama and Anastasia Kim
Dating for Dummies
Last year, I vowed to lose 10 pounds. The following week, I went to an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, making the restaurant regret their business model and upgrading my resolution to 15 pounds. The year before that I lasted about two days before I caved and bought a stack of Blu-rays (and only because the stores were closed on New Year’s).
My previous New Year’s resolutions haven’t gone so well, but that hasn’t stopped me. For 2011, I realized there’s no changing my gluttony or my geeky addictions. Instead, I’ll focus on something new: my weakest, most deficient skill set — ironically, that’d be dating.
I’m 36 and unmarried. Normally, I would emphatically de- fend myself by declaring that it’s by choice. It’s easier to say that I enjoy having the time to write or play video games or re-enact scenes from Lost in my underwear. But I’m more likely single because I sabotaged myself at every turn. It’s not realistic to make huge sweeping changes all at once, so I’ll start with a few simples ones to adopt.
I discovered my joy of writing more than 10 years ago by blogging on AsianAvenue.com and later Livejournal. I didn’t think anyone was reading my stuff so my life sort of became an open book. When social media became mainstream, it was an easy transition to embrace. I was already doing it. Everything I do is transparent: the places I go, what I eat, or what I’m doing. It’s an unfortunate habit. I need to stop publishing every drunken thought, every goofy photo and every lame attempt at humor. So, for Resolution #1, I will filter myself better and curb the mental diarrhea. Yes, it’ll mean fewer comments and “likes” on my Facebook wall, but girls don’t really need or want to know when I’m battling the toilet bowl Hydra.
This sounds dumb, but talking has never been my forte, unless it’s about video games. But we’re talking about dating here, not chilling with my nephews. I overcompensate and say stupid things to alleviate the pressure of awkward silences. I found that I had better luck “talking” to a girl over an instant messenger. I had time to come up with something marginally witty, and I didn’t pollute the conversation with filler talk about “Street Fighter.” This eventually evolved into sending text messages rather than calling. I mean, there is no awkward silence with text messages, and I love that. But what happens when the girl actually agrees to go out? “Hey, take off your bra, sexy,” I’d sext her. And she’d turn to me and say, “I’m right here, freak.” Resolution #2 is to communicate the old-fashioned way.
Despite all my fumbling, I do manage to go out on dates. Ah, but that’s when I do the real damage, where I’m either a Michael Bay movie of ridiculous disasters or an indie flick where nothing ever happens. Why do I drink too much on dates or inevitably end up in the “friend zone?” Because … I never say what I want. I’m too chicken sh-t to say, “I like you. I think it would be awesome to watch movies together and see each other naked on a regular basis.” Resolution #3 is to say what I want and mean. The worst outcome is getting turned down, to which I’ll just say, “Alrighty then.” Best outcome is regular nudity in real 3-D. That’s what you’d call a good bet.
I realize that my resolutions may not help you. After all, they’re designed around my issues. If you’re lazy, use mine any- way. If you think of your own, great! If you fail, well, I’ll meet you at the Korean BBQ.
I’ve dated all kinds of men: the insecure doormat, the unattainable rebel, the chauvinistic meathead, and even the possessive psycho. For years, I wondered why I couldn’t just snag a normal, great guy. But after the tail end of a series of unfortunate dates whipped me across the face, I realized I had been going about it all wrong. I decided then that I’d make a few dating resolutions for myself to get out of this dating slump, instead of waiting for Mr. Right to somehow magically find me.
As a college student, I plunged into the dating pool, head- first, believing feigned confidence and bravura would surely land me a good man. Once, on a date with Mr. R., I talked about myself so much, I forgot for a second he was even there. Midway through the “so this psycho fell in love with me” story, I realized how self-absorbed and entitled I sounded. At some point, I had to tell myself, “Get over yourself. Seriously.” Talking about how many men wanted me didn’t make me seem any more appealing, and complaining about crazy exes made me look like a psycho-magnet. Stories told for the sake of receiving validation should stay between girlfriends; sharing too much with our date only shows how little we have to lose if things don’t pan out. Let’s date each individual as if that person is our last chance at romance because in the end, isn’t that what most of us are searching for?
When I first started dating Mr. H., I thought he was a sweet, funny guy. After the honeymoon blinders came off, though, I realized he was a jobless, unmotivated slob. Less than a year into our relationship, we were fighting over his “Counter- strike” addiction and his penchant for sitting around in his dirty underwear all the livelong day. Ladies, ever meet a guy who’s great in so many ways, but you can’t help but think, “if only he …”? If only he were more ambitious, fit or understanding? How many of us decide to date these men anyway, hoping that with time, and a little “guidance,” they’ll become the men of our dreams? Sadly, people don’t change very often, and I ended up feeling hopeless. Soon after we broke up, I told myself I should date a person’s now, not their potential. Let’s spare our partners (and ourselves) the disappointment, and avoid getting into a re- lationship with someone who isn’t their potential now.
I’ve always been a rigid list-keeper; as such, I often missed out on meeting potentially wonderful men because in one way or another, they didn’t fit my ideal “type.” But after dating men who seemed like my type, and seeing those relationships fail, I learned to break the “type” in stereotype. Take it from me. A doctor from Harvard won’t always know how to mend a broken heart, and old money won’t always solve new problems. A guy with a Porsche may not always rev up our engine, and an Abercrombie model who does his body good may not necessarily do ours any good. Dating isn’t so much about matching outer desires, but more about fulfilling our inner needs. Let’s meet that need first, and then think about all of the extras. Like chiseled abs.
The best way to achieve dating success is to meet love halfway and modify our expectations. Here’s hoping that in the New Year, we won’t need to make any more dating resolutions!
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