Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What kind of woman am I looking for?

I was out to dinner on Monday night with my friends Dave and Lindsay. They were married this summer, but before they were married they had been dating for years and years. Now that they're married, they've become the couple that everyone agrees is really special. Of course, in our hearts, we curse them for being so fantastically happy. But in our heart-of-hearts, we know we're just compensating for the frustration over the fact that finding a really good romance is a little bit of skill and a lot of luck.

The conversation eventually turned to something that (apparently) I haven't given much thought lately. At least, Lindsay's question caught me completely by surprise. We were talking about my brothers and dating and how much that changes people, then we shifted over to people I've dated and what that said about me, etc. Standard conversations, really. Then I got asked a question which I later felt I should have had a prepared answer to, like at a job interview.

Lindsay asked me what type of woman I am looking for. "Besides tall," she helpfully added.

And I drew a blank. It's not a subject I've given a whole lot of thought lately, having been rather busy with my lecture recital preparation. But even that is a bit of a non-answer, because I didn't really ever give it much thought BEFORE I got really busy.

Every once and a while, an innoccuous utterance gets trapped inside my brain, bouncing around from all sides. I can't shake it, like what happens when I get a song stuck in my head. During periods of passive thinking, there it is again! Popping right back into my head. This has been one of those questions.

Usually when people get asked this question, they have a go-to response: "I like redheads." "She needs to be hella rich!" "I seek the companionship of an elf trapped in a human body; just like me."

I like brown hair. I like blond hair. Long hair is beautiful, but short hair is very fetching. A knowledge of music is nice, but tone-deafness is not a disqualification. I just don't think about classifying the people I meet. I couldn't tell you how many of the women I know have brown hair, for example. Or how many wear glasses. Or how many wear expensive shoes. That sort of thing doesn't really make an impression on me.

I can tell you which of the women has a short temper. Which one refuses to tip waiters. Which one likes to watch the moon at any opportunity. Which one has a secret disdain for email. These are the sort of things I notice, and for the most part, I don't think of the women who exhibit these traits as belonging to a category *of* those traits. Jane has a short temper, but that doesn't mean she's at all similar to Eliza, who also has a short temper.

To Lindsay's question, I think I gave a rambling mumble about "nice demeanor, good sense of humor, fantastically wealthy". It's the sort of list that just about everyone makes when asked to check the boxes concerning possible mates. That proves that we should just not mention anything at all, because traits that vague are bound to suit all sorts of people. Most likely, we're all holding out for something more. Possibly something we can't even put our finger on.

I don't know if that's my cop-out answer. By way of an example, I floated a name of someone I was interested in to my friends, as an indication of someone that might be classified into "my type". "That's the sort of person who interests me," I said. "Someone who isn't ashamed of disagreeing with me," I continued, echoing something I've discussed on this blog before.

"She's very nice," said Dave, without any trace of irony or particular earnestness. I have no idea what he meant or what he was thinking. The conversation drifted on from there, so I suppose whatever point we had been trying to arrive at had been reached.

My friends then related a story about an acquaintence of theirs, who's apparently tall, looks like a model, and is very friendly. Apparently too friendly, because she tends to accumulate a flock of guys who think she's more interested than she is.

Speaking as a guy, being the object of any kind of interest from a woman I'm interested in is just about the best thing in the world. It tends to give wild release to all kinds of latent scenarios of affection and couplehood. The problem comes because when we're moving at breakneck speed in our own brains, there tends to be little room for the finer details between "we should be a couple" and "we should be a couple of buddies!"

I've drifted off my topic a bit and this is my segue to get back on.

I'm still at a loss as to what I should have said in answer to the question. I don't fear my friends running with the information and fixing me up on a bevvy of blind dates, now that they're armed with some sort of knowledge of my preference. I just couldn't come up with a satisfactory description of "what I'm looking for". I'd probably be terrible at filling out Internet dating site questionaires for just this reason.

It is (if a reference to a pornography supreme court decision can be used in a topic about love) something I'll know when I see. Or perhaps I'll know it when I know it. Either way, I don't think creating a list, which by definition creates boundaries, will be very helpful or even possible. If I rule out Irish descent and stop looking there, will I miss a golden opportunity?

1 comment:

  1. Why don't you make a list of "must haves" and "deal breakers"? You want her to be funny, but what type of funny? Are farts funny to her, or maybe (gasp) she doesn't like Monty Python.

    And what isn't worth it? Maybe she's never wants kids and you do (or vice verse), or she smokes, or uses heroin.

    I find these specifics much more helpful when talking about findig a suitable partner.