My friends tell me I am picky. I call it having standards -- totally unrealistic standards based on the over-inflated opinion I have of myself. I recognize that I have no right to be as picky as I am purported to be, but that doesn't stop me from dreaming big. There's a fine line between confidence and narcissism, and I'm rarely accused of being confident.
Honestly, I'm not even sure what anyone means by "picky." Maybe the friends who accuse me of this sin are referring to the fact that I try and pick out a woman's faults first thing. It's as though I'm looking for reasons why a relationship won't succeed. It's something I'm trying to work on, but I'm certain women do it, too.
It doesn't help either that the online dating world encourages pickiness. One of the crueler features of Match.com, for instance, involves the site sending you "matches" to your e-mail account, and then you sort through women like they are baseball cards. Most of the profiles are exactly the same: the woman explains how "laid back" and "easy to get along with" she is. She goes on to says that she is also "driven" and "not into games." Then there's a long list of attributes she is looking for in a man, which almost always includes: honesty, good sense of humor, career-driven, athletic and pretty much every characteristic that generic romantic comedies have taught us exist in one person.
I want all of those things too, but the list of things I don't want is considerably longer. And if I were to list those things, then I look like a picky jerk. It's a double-standard.
Since all of the profiles are pretty much written the same, I just look for a few things: the most important is physical appearance. I don't think it's too shallow to admit that. I do have some quirks that could be holding me back from meeting someone. I'm not looking for a super-model, but a woman who has just given up on her appearance makes me sad. Also, I have a pathological fear of gingers. I know, I know, this makes me a bad person. But between my ghoulish just-survived-the-holocaust aesthetic, and the freckly paleness of the average ginger, it would look like a vampire and a jar of mayonnaise with the measles were dating.
The second thing I look for is the woman's religion. I'm not a religious guy. Frankly, it's not something I ever think about. There are an alarming number of women who won't date heathens, so I don't bother them.
The other thing is the picture itself. I don't care if the woman is a Nobel laureate bikini model, if she is taking a picture of herself in the mirror with her cellphone and/or making that kissy duck-face, I'm out.
Being overly picky is a serious issue. I've often wondered if I've missed out on getting to know a genuinely good person because I wouldn't consider dating someone who doesn't know how to make herself look good in a picture. I've also wondered how many women have passed on my online profile because they were looking for something too specific.
I wish online dating sites listed what women would settle for maybe just below all of the things they really want. For example, if a profile read: "I wouldnt mind if a guy drinks way too much, as long as hes funny and can hold down a job," then wed be in business. Or: "I could tolerate a guys apartment looking like a bomb exploded in it, as long as hes faithful." Thatd be great. Im loyal, but I hate cleaning.
Im not suggesting that you or I shouldnt have standards, just that its better to have an open mind. Most of my former girlfriends passed my scrutiny, and almost all of those relationships ended because we just werent compatible. So, maybe its time to scratch my checklist of qualities I think I like and just try to actually get to know someone who is interested in getting to know me.
Maybe even Ill try dating a ginger ... or not. Baby steps.