Attraction is an uncomplicated formula.
“So what’s dating like for someone like you?” A guy asked me a couple of days ago.
He’s much younger than I am, and someone I see around at parties. We tend to banter. He once said if he had a nicer car, he’d take me out, which clued me in to how little he understood about me.
Although I live in a town where people are willing to sleep in a secret hovel as long as they make the exorbitant payments on their Mercedes and Porsches, I don’t personally care about “nice” cars. This is evidenced by the rattling ’86 Corolla I drove for five years in image-conscious Los Angeles, and would’ve driven longer if the California government hadn’t pried it from my hands by deeming it “unsmoggable.”
The young guy waved around a lot of coulda-woulda bravado by implying “taking” me out would be automatic with no possible lack of interest from me. But I didn’t press the point. A comment designed for a reaction usually doesn’t deserve one. Besides, I find it unmanly for a guy to play coy, and respond better to directness.
Now he was asking a coy question in a direct way. Tricky, tricky.
“Come on, spill the beans, what’s it like for someone like you?” He asked again.
“Someone like me?” Was this an insult/a compliment/am I a Martian?!
“I’ve seen how men fixate on you.” I just looked at him, mainly because I had no response.
Then he added, “It’s weird.” This must have been that idiotic backhanded compliment ploy guys mistake for a pick-up strategy.
“Guys fixate on me?” I said with a huge grin. “And you’ve seen this? That is weird! Have any of these men caught you stalking them like that?”
He smiled comfortably, his index finger wagging touché. Neither of us was going to be disarmed by the other.
I didn’t need yet another guy in my life who was ten to fifteen years younger than me, so good thing he wasn’t very cute (to me) or I would’ve been in trouble. Finding myself in trouble doesn’t take much: a square chin, a couple of clever words. (If you take away the square chin, then a couple thousand clever words.) There’s no difference between me having physical preferences and the men who are into me finding themselves into me. Just replace “square chin” with some feminine equivalent.
For me, attraction is an uncomplicated formula, at least based on how often I find myself attracted: a look or presence that’s pleasing, a brain or personality that’s stimulating, and their inherent goodness. Done.
Naturally, one must factor in the confounding sorcery that is “chemistry,” but in very simple terms, chemistry takes place when someone finds you as great as you find them. At times two people feel chemistry but the interest to move forward remains one-sided, either because one party doesn’t find the other great in as many areas, or the resistant party has a built-in suitability requirement.
The notion of suitability is subjective and ranges from perceiving someone as a good potential parent, to someone’s career, wealth, domesticity/handiness, politics, philosophical beliefs, and so forth. Some count specific physical attributes as suitability requirements. Women might have a height preference as often as men have a breast-size preference, and there’s no point in pretending such superficiality isn’t prevalent. On the upside, with seven billion people on the planet, personal tastes run the full range of human characteristics, even when it comes to size and shape.
“Suitability” never consciously figured into it for me. As long as I discerned intelligence and something exciting about them, it didn’t matter if they were construction workers, career humanitarians or physicists. That is, if I found them attractive in the first place. Even if I had subconscious suitability requirements, they weren’t the typical financial/station-in-life factors.
Supposed girlie notions eluded me as a kid. Even though I wasn’t especially tomboyish, I didn’t care for dolls, or the color pink, or drawing hearts. I was more interested in looking for strange insects in the yard than helping my mother bake cakes. I didn’t dream about my prom or my wedding, but very strangely, I fantasized about being an Olympic hero even though I had no athletic skill, or enthusiasm for that matter. It was about the “hero” part.
So no, I didn’t grow up wishing to meet the ideal man to be my husband. In fact, the whole wedding scenario seemed like too much fuss and chaos. I gently laughed off each of the four times I was faced with a marriage proposal. Granted, as a girlfriend of mine likes to point out, unless they’re on one knee holding out a ring, it’s not a true “proposal.” And thank goodness, because I couldn’t very well laugh at a ring without being an asshole, could I?
At the same time, I’ve been in one relationship or another most of my adult life. I’ve had three great loves. After the relationships ended, all three continued to be like family. My first love made me see the world as a better place. My second love made me feel like I was extraordinary. And my third love nurtured my self-growth. Of course, I stumbled into my share of dating duds and missteps in between, but because of these three, I consider myself exceptionally lucky in love.
Only in the last two years have I experienced being “single” as an adult. In a way, the guy’s question about dating for “someone like me” is legitimate because of my not-quite-conventional circumstances. I’m stuck in a time-warp where I have the carefree lifestyle of someone twenty years younger than myself. Carefree is full of fun, it’s true, but it lacks stability. It’s impractical and doesn’t insure a comfortable future. I’ve always known that by forgoing both a practical career and marriage, I’m risking a secure future. It’s as if my soul signed a “starving-artist for life” contract.
So dating for “someone like” me is a catch-22. There are interested but inappropriate men everywhere. They’re too young or too old for me, because in either case, I don’t want what they want out of life. Really, when I say “young” or “old,” I refer to their stage of life rather than their age. I want more adventure than a “mature” guy wants, and the young guy situation is a conundrum unto itself as described below.
Meeting a smart, decent-looking girl (I’m supposed to say “woman”) who doesn’t seek traditional commitment has jackpot appeal to a young guy. But neither the commitment-phobic girl nor the young guy who can’t believe his luck take into account that those of us who are attracted to substance in spite of ourselves, are those drawn together in the way we were. So the interactions always take a serious turn, and the young guy finds himself in a dilemma because I’m the girl — the older girl — who doesn’t want a family. I’m a Gen Xer in a Gen Y world, so it’s not like there’s time for me to change my mind about kids. And who wants to be with someone who’s going to get older faster than them, anyway? I don’t. So, why should the young guy?
This brings me to my new suitability requirement. Age. But with a twist. I’d date a guy who’s in my age range, but who appears and behaves like he was born in the 80’s. A rock ‘n roller. I don’t mean the musician part; I mean the part where a rock ‘n roll dude isn’t an “old man” at any age. I mean the part where Iggy Pop is a 66-year-old but has the energy of a cat on catnip and the build of a teenager who can’t snarl without burning calories.
I want somebody from my own personal time-warp, and it’s not a lot to ask. But he is as elusive as a Martian.
~ Continued at Dating for Martians: Does Online Dating mean Defeat? ~
- The notion of “suitability” of a potential partner can either serve or limit you. For a better shot at love, adjust accordingly — be somewhat flexible (not to be confused with “settling”).
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