Dating sites abound with individuals laying out their requirements. Men and women of all ages, backgrounds and proclivities, list out (often literally) their likes and dislikes in a potential partner, or even potential casual shag. This might sound perfectly reasonable, yet the ever-growing research suggests that we are terribly, terribly bad at what is known as affective forecasting, that is, predicting how we will feel, given a particular set of circumstances.
Click here to read more.
The above article from Psychology Today, is a brief introduction to some of the studies being conducted around this space. My favourite quote from the article?
“We are often very bad judges of our own personality and the traits we want others to possess. ”
This statement gives me pause about my own profile, and my own collection of boxes all ripe for ticking . Am I, perhaps, barking up the wrong tree? Would I be happier with X rather than the Y I am convinced I want? My instinct tells me that, should we put the work into ourselves, we possibly get better at this forecasting as we get older. I can certainly trace a trajectory in my own romantic life, and see how experience and some timely unpacking have given me a more accurate ability to predict my future feelings.
I can say with a fair amount of confidence, that a less intelligent man than me is going to be resentful within about three days. If I don’t get bored first, which is quite likely. I can also say with similar confidence that a fairly quiet, introverted man is possibly not the partner for me (but I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised…). Beyond that, I am not really able to paint a picture of my ideal man. However, I think I can paint a portrait of my ideal relationship. And I can totally paint one of the relationship I DON’T want. Mainly because I have already had it. Time and time again.
I do not want to be a man’s personality. I do not wish to supply the energy and joy to a grey, relentlessly quiet life. I will no longer get up and dance while he sits on a bar stool (unless he’s broken his leg skiing slalom…I’ll make an exception…I’m not unreasonable…). I am sick of being the chatty, witty, dinner guest, who has to occasionally turn to her plus one and say “are you alright dear?”, and have him look at me with the expression that says “can we go home soon, I’m bored”. I am certainly not going to hitch my wagon to a man who is going to retire in a few years with the aim of staying home and watching midday TV. I no longer choose to do the vivacity heavy-lifting.
Unfortunately, it’s pointless my writing this on my dating profile because a) men hardly ever read profiles anyway, b) the ones that read it probably won’t understand it and c) if they understand it, they won’t think it applies to them. This is where the quote above hits home: we are bad judges of our own personality. Few people would describes themselves as dull. Or as wet blankets. Or party poopers. And yet there is an endless stream of people whose profiles are full of cliches like “Live life to the fullest (sic)”or “life’s too short (usually spelled “to”)” or “I’m here for a good time, not a long time”. I’ve met a lot of these guys. If that’s living life to the fullest, you can roll me in coconut and call me an iced vo-vo (a delightful Australian biscuit/cookie).
So should I care? Other people’s profiles are generally none of my beeswax. But these are the very men who constantly contact me. And they are peachy-keen about the things I can bring to the table. Yet what do they bring? A penis apparently. Oh joy unconfined.
I don’t think I kid myself that I’m a prize catch. In fact, I think I’m a difficult woman to fall in love with. However, experience would suggest that I’m a fairly easy woman to like, to date, to get along with and to indulge in hanky-panky with. But I am tired of giving my dowry of joi de vivre to a (no matter how “nice”) dull, quiet, relatively inert man whose life consists of going to a job he hates and then coming home to watch TV and drink a Corona. There are plenty of very nice women out there who would be more than happy to share a beer with them whilst they both whinge about their respective dead-end jobs. Not me.
Meanwhile, I’m happy to bring the oysters to the banquet: but only if my companion is bringing champagne.