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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Have I told you that you’re an interesting creature? I wonder if all Martians are like this. I had some thoughts on this post but since I am not Dr. Phil I will just let them percolate in my mind a bit. Great writing, as usual.
Be sure to share, once your thoughts are done percolating.
My dating history is pretty tame. On purpose tame, because that’s what I chose to do in spite of what I might’ve liked to do. I’m not saying ‘no regrets’ but…
If there was a way to have done so much more, but not been me…
Oh to be someone else, sometimes!
I think I might be married to a Martian though. Or at least, he was. He’s becoming less Martian-y these days, thank goodness.
I respect a clearheaded choice. I’m sure I’ve made some, but it’s always the other ones that stand out. I do wonder how things would be different with more clearheaded decisions.
Wait, so does that mean his Martian-y-ness isn’t fun for you?
Clearheaded is often very painful.
And no. His alienness and alienation has been profoundly difficult to manage. I wish it weren’t so.
First off: ‘Clearheaded is often very painful’. You had me with that.
I’ve felt that for a few years now and people think of me as The Martian for feeling it.
“Being Clearheaded is a GOOD thing!”
It is, no doubt… But the pain of being someone who knows what they want (Or think they do) and consequently at least has a rough draft of a plan, can be a pain when you admire, are friends with and are probably attracted to the romantic spontaneous ‘Rock Stars’. (You are one Geisha!)
I seem to have had a ‘tame’ dating history as well. This, considering the company I kept, was borderline embarrassing. I’m a once-engaged unmarried and believe I have a lot more dating to do but can’t seem to shake the ‘tameness’. And I regret that I wasn’t adventurous when the opportunities were more varied (At college). Also, and I don’t know about you but this has been true for me; when things get rough the tameness is regretted. I definitely wish I had been a bit… exploratory? Sometimes I wonder that if/when I do get married, will I ever carry the regret I have?
These are interesting facets to ponder, Twist. You, and Lizzi’s “painful clearheadedness,” have gotten me so curious. If so painful, why choose it? Is clearheadedness an irresistible force? (I’m not saying I don’t personally understand clearheadedness, but I’ve more often gone with my instincts.)
You seem pretty self-aware and I wonder, why isn’t your ambivalence towards “tameness” enough to allow you to take a risk now and then? And I mean, a good risk, Twist, I’m not referring to recklessness. Sometimes the “safe” choice isn’t the best choice. Sometimes, a whole world of learning and growth awaits with the more intimidating choice. I’m speaking in the abstract, because only you can ultimately know and decide what sort of paths will bring you where you want to be in life.
I completely agree. But its a tendency. Nature & Nurture are opposing my attempts. But now, more than ever, I feel closer to my independence from my need to have a plan. I’m battling it and believe truce is near.
You might. And I know they (the anonymous referential authority who are always quoted in these instances) say that it’s better to regret the things you DO do, than the things you don’t. And yet I’m still not sure.
Marriage is hard. I’ll tell you that for free. But it’s also (in my case, and I assume for many others) been impacted by other circumstances which make it impossible to assess in a stand-alone manner.
My clearheadedness means I don’t regret. But I am wistful, sometimes, in the way you seem to describe. I wish that there were two of me, and that one had been full of reckless abandon and experimentation and carefree-ness, and that I could’ve had that as well as the person I am now – the one with integrity, loyalty, propriety…all so very good and noble things in their own right, but all of which can feel so….restrictive.
What’s interesting is that although I’ve always done what I want, I’m not inclined towards too much “experimentation.” I think it’s possible to maintain integrity and loyalty and still make adventurous choices. (But not propriety.)
Well put. And I empathise. I’m trying to crack the balance between those two people right now. Giving the reckless wistfulness space to soar. Its this constant process of telling yourself, ‘It’s okay. Let go. Just experience.’ Hopefully I’m successful. Thanks for the reply- its been great discussing this!
Good luck with trying on that freer person 🙂 I hope it goes well for you. And yes. I enjoyed the discussion.
I have to think about this for a little while and then come back. When I was 25, I dated a man who was 50… for just shy of a year. I feel like I should have something to say on this topic but I just ate fastfood and my brain is not working.
I’ve read some of your stuff on that…individual.
GG, be careful what you wish for! My Queen thought the whole Rock & Roll heart, you’ll-never-have-a-boring-life again thing was going to be all good times…it has been mostly. But there’s those for-better-or-worse bits that turn up down the track that aren’t so good-timey, like, staying a man-child no matter how old you’re supposed to be…it’s like living in 2 epochs, the one you’re in now and the one you grew up in (Gen X rules Baby, yeay!) So, anyway, good luck with that. Love yer work. Rd
I hear you, but don’t forget, a woman-child might be best off with a man-child.
Touche! You make an excellent point, of course. I look forward to when you meet him…it’s got “spectacular blog-fodder” written all over it.
I am new on this blog and I am very thankful to a little bird who told me about it. I really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Thank you GG !!
There is a big difference between a man-child and childish man. I believe that GG is referring to a man trapped in his own world of contradiction of mature and youthful thinking and behavior. To be childish is a lack of maturity, but to be a man-child is someone who allow the emotions to come out, magic of wonder and spontaneous free expression in a positive creative way. I remember all the excitement of my rock concerts I went too, is it bad that I want to recreate those feelings over and over again? You don`t need Dr.Phill to tell you what is ‘appropriate’ for your age. Hell NO, no one has that right. And even if they do, who cares. But in dating field, well this is where you stumble on problems. To satisfy your mind you can relate only to a younger person, which most likely leads to an end sooner or later. I completely understand the paradox of ‘appropriate’ for your age dates being ‘too old’. Trust me… I know the feeling 🙂
Comment on your dating thoughts:
I never ask my self who, why, when…etc. should I date. Today dating many times relate on a buying a new car considering it reliability or show off look, or online shopping where you browse dates like a product at amazon ordering few of them just in case and holding tight to the return policy in your mind. God have mercy on our souls…….crap… I forgot I`m not religious, lol. What happened with the thrill of not knowing and discovering…that good feeling of excitement…no matter the result. When you just start to hang out with somebody and you don`t even realize that you’re actually already dating him/her, all the funny part when you can`t even put a time frame on beginning of a relationship. When relationship just happened without even knowing….. I know what happened ….we start to act mature, calculative, dull and boring. Well, all of that is just a freedom of choice and if you are a follower, then you are doomed to do what is appropriate for the society around you. And if you are a man-child, you just can`t live with that and the search for the woman-child goes on…. or in your case man-child. I will steal a line from ‘Monk’: being woman-child or man-child is a ‘gift….and a curse.’ lol
Thanks and welcome to the blog – I’m glad you’re here.
I agree with your differentiation between childish and child-like. I don’t however, find being child-like a curse – although I’m sure others find it a curse on my behalf (because of lack of future security).
I also agree with most of your thoughts about the inorganic aspect of dating as if picking catalog merchandise, stockpiling people in case one works out.
The point I don’t see the same as you, is regarding the people who have different ideas about what’s appropriate. They get to have their personal perspective just like we do. People who make different choices than the “rock ‘n roll” route, do so according to their personal needs and desires. I think the only thing we can – maybe, kind of – generalize about most people, is that we live the life we choose (barring circumstance beyond our control).
You’re a brave girl, Gunmetal Geisha, taking on the dating topic and then asking for input. Some say that “failures” are learning experiences. If this is true I should be pretty knowledgeable about relationships but all I can do is list many ways they don’t work. On that front it feels as if I am no further ahead than I was when I started. The problem now may be that I’m slow, “mature” (love that euphemism for “old”) and have a round chin. I’ve gone over the cliff – it’s too late for me, but there’s time for you to save yourself Gunmetal Geisha! Sigh. I think perhaps this negativity is, in part, due to my definition of success: if the relationship does not endure, it is a failure. After reading your post, I’ve come to realize that I may need to revisit that definition.
I find women to be amazing, in general. To me women of all ages are a sort of magical sphere of light and good wrapped in a unique personality with all the attending individual characteristics. Oddly enough, they don’t seem aware of their magical properties. I agree, Gunmetal Geisha, with your general diagnosis of a relationship – the desire of both to participate, the matching of needs, the “chemistry”, the age and experience factors, etc. On top of (or under) all that is the appreciation of the magic. That being said, most of my relationships (and I tend to have longer ones: 3-12 years) have been with women who met those criteria – very kind, smart, caring women (all ambitious in their own unique way – corporate or TV production or academic or whatever) that I respected, where we thought we could reach the magic – sort of “learn love” so to speak. I’m here to tell you that doesn’t work. The relationship dies a very slow and unheroic death – great at the beginning then receding from reality with a whimper. Wild passion for a woman, I have experienced twice. And both times it was unrequited (and those made me look like and behave a fool, believe me). That may work, but I haven’t met the one who feels the same about me at the same time. The passion thingy seems totally beyond our control – it happens when and where it wants with no regard to any other desires or timing. You can’t really seek it out or encourage it or plan for it or even choose when, where, how, why or with whom. If I can’t put it on my timetable, then all I can do is watch for it so as not to let it pass by should it present itself. Gifts like that, you have to know they will seldom come in the wrapper you are expecting.
Anyway, that being said, I suspect that your young friend is seeing your magical glow, without the slightest idea how to reach, or even approach you (obviously, given the car story). No clue as to who you are or what is important to you. And so you become an otherworldly presence – intelligent, beautiful, very mysterious, and apparently human on the surface but, in his estimation, seemingly not motivated by what drives “regular” humans (i.e. the Porsche, an attraction to his undoubted handsomeness and wit, the drive to accumulate wealth, the desire to possess, etc.). Hence both Magical and Martian.
Dearest Paul, I’ve never considered my three long term relationships as failures, I don’t even see them as not having endured. They simply transformed.
I may come across as seeking a specific wrapper – probably because I say so! – but in the past, of course it’s been the way you say each time. Spontaneous, unexpected. Unknowable.
Hmmm. “They simply transformed.” I like that – it feels right. But I have no idea how to see it that way. Can you elaborate on how that happens and what it feels like?
I’ll see if I can squeeze it in the next post, Part II of “Dating for Martians.” The short of it is, the injured parties have to let go of their resentment.
YES to this: “So dating, for me, is a catch-22; there are interested but inappropriate men everywhere.”
I’m single and I’m thrilled to see that there are men everywhere I look (I never noticed when I was married), but hmmm… many are not the ones I should be hanging out with, for a variety of reasons.
The dilemma goes further because so many are so…wonderful in many ways.
I like your blogs and your response….you made me look deeper 🙂
I never meant to generalize. There are over 7 billion people occupying our planet and each one of us has a prefrontal cortex who orchestrate our ‘free will’ in form of our unique actions and thoughts accordingly with our individual goals. Free will is in quotation on purpose, because our free will is not so often free. And gets manipulated with today’s technology like TV and internet. Now we find people who want to relive certain TV love stories and keep breaking their relationships chasing that unicorn in the shape of Casablanca or some other romantic flick. Internet made a huge impact on dating where some people got the option to keep chasing the ‘next best thing’ looking for that ‘better’ and in some cases ending up with the depression and regrets, never finding that ‘best’. On the other hands the same technology opens up our horizon, possibilities we never knew they existed. Why satisfied with less if you can get more etc. Where is that thin line between unicorn and reality is upon the seeker and can not be generalized.
By now you probably noticed that English is not my first language, but that is not an excuse for me not to express my thoughts properly, merely the slight excuse for my grammar.
You express your thoughts quite clearly. “The next best thing” syndrome sounds pretty awful and would probably not be occurring if people never settled in the first place.
Well written and honest, and I can’t help thinking, I’m glad I didn’t go through my dating years in So. Cal. My old roommate went through the whole modeling/acting scene, and has a very similar experience with attraction/age, but couldn’t find contentment in any person down there. He returns home and doesn’t relate to the unadventurous life us “normals” live, and can’t find happiness here either. I told him last time I saw him, “sometimes the 10 at age 25, becomes a 6 at age 40 (or with their makeup off), while a low maintainance 8 keeps her looks, and you keep your sanity”. There just isn’t strikingly beautiful, intelligent, morally sound, mentally stable, and charismatic/jovial people. And if there are, I’ve never heard of them.
Oh come on, there are plenty of men and women that are all those things — with the exception of “mentally stable.” But then again, “mentally unstable” doesn’t discriminate; you could have one or all or none of those things and still be a little loopy…
[…] “I’m extremely smug when I say, I’ve never caught a glimpse of that child in motion–I’ve seen stills like the one you posted, and read opinions, etc.–but never seen her actually animated, say on TV. I consider it an achievement.” –Gunmetal Geisha […]
You really have lived life, haven’t you? Your views are interesting to read and give quite the perspective. What I like is that you put it out there. The dating thoughts are interesting for sure. And no matter what a car looks like, if it’s yours, it’s yours. It seems like there’s something there intertwining with that old Carolla. Kind of on par with the loves. I’m the same way, at times, with cars. I had my last one for 8.5 years. Talk about love. 🙂
I think I just rambled here. I probably make no sense. But hey, I bet you’d be fun to just go on a ride with, crank some tunes and just talk about life. No matter what the car looked like!
Well, Mike thinks you’re an “interesting creature”, thus confirming your Martian theory.
You’re right; we have a lot of similarities! I keep making the mistake of hooking up with younger men (who then become my fiances and then exes) who keep up for a good five years or so and then they realize they want somebody their own age. GUH. I’m getting too old for this. ;0) Really though, I feel you. I don’t want anybody my age because although they’re “age appropriate”, I suddenly feel like the teenager of the two and I don’t plan on spending my nights grimacing together over cups of “warm regret”, cold noodles, and long silent pauses. Nah, I like my regret served up hot and in real time!
I’m fairly certain that I stay so busy perfecting my schoolwork that I don’t have time for a broken heart, but God help me if I slow down a bit, right? The breakup is fresh and I’m stuck in martyr mode because I’m certain that I’ll be single for the rest of my life. I’ve barely left my house though ha. Like you, it would only take the wind blowing in my general direction (from Adonis, right?) and I would be like, “Martyr schmartyr, your name again?”
SO pathetic. I understand your dilemma well. We’re like Cinderella, eh? We’ve got about 6 good hours and then POOF: Back to the kitchen.
Sorry for the delay, I didn’t want to rush a response — I was consumed with writing the dating follow-up post…
First, that great sentence about warm regret and cold noodles, your preference of regret “served hot and in real time,” and all your Adonises — there’s a whole post there, you have to write it, and if you have, you must direct me to it!
Second, once again, something in common — schoolwork! I’m enrolled too.
Finally, I’m systematically working it out — this dilemma of the wind blowing from the direction of Adonis. I will share with you all the pertinent data I collect…
What are you studying? And will you please share here any links to your writing to do with the above subject?
I’m tending to my Chinese fried rice on the stove but after I’ve eaten, I’ll check out that post- stat. :0) I just graduated from my current University (degree in Behavioral Sciences- which was beyond challenging, especially the Calculus, and I worked on my CPC in Substance Abuse, which I received simultaneously- Sum Laude- yeah!) and will will be transferring to a new university in New England in June to begin working on my BA in Sociology. I’m guessing I want to travel to third world countries and work with street kids and drug addicts, etc. (Or, hang out with indigenous tribes and take weird root drugs with them; whichever way the wind blows, eh? heheh.) Not sure yet; it’ll be in the Social Sciences though, and I’m going to ride this wave until I get my Master’s, minimally. I want to develop programs as well as propose my own Social Theories (yes, I’m serious- and I have a few!). Any and all of the above. What about you? What are you studying? How long have you, and are your studies and passions in life the same? I think it’s very important that they be. (Some people’s aren’t. Scary.)
My Adonis. Sigh- where to begin! I have a gazillion posts pertaining to him (and “us” in general) ranging from our cozy getaway to the Smokey Mountains, and me smashing his computer (again) because he looked at porn. (Again.) We ran the gamut, that’s for sure and I pretty much posted every detail. (I’m bad about that, I s’pose. I posted the good crap too though. :0)
Must get back to the rice but I’m looking forward to that post! x
You’ve seriously got to be kidding me…. Your boy with the porn — are you ME?! The only thing you’ve said so far, in all of our exchanges, that doesn’t mirror something in my life, is your studies. I study film, undergrad. But lately I’ve been thinking about getting into a Creative Writing MFA program.
Hey, I almost signed on for a BA in Creative Writing instead! Ha. I was actually registered for that and then changed my major. I started my 2nd degree (same university I’ve been at for 3+ years) in Social Work, which is what I’m doing now, but will transfer and change majors in June.
I figured an official BA or MA in Creative Writing would actually bring out the crazy, like, Hemingway style, and so I settled on Sociology instead.
You cannot laugh at a ring? Well, maybe you should not – cos rings are dangerous! The smallest part of a slave chain, while TWO rings are the smallest slave chain possible.
Wait, what? I just mean mathematically. How do the two end up smaller than the one?
one is a smallest part of a slave chain.
the two are the smallest slave chain – it consists out of two smallest parts
cannot see where the ONE is not smaller than the TWO …
Ah, that crucial word, part. It’s actually interesting to me that I missed the distinction between “smallest part of chain” and “smallest chain,” as someone who puts such weight on the accuracy of words. Thanks for the lesson
Glad I could make myself clearer.