Dear Melvin, Am I Being Too Picky?
I am a 29 year old woman who lives in Morningside Heights. While I had been working in fashion since graduating from college, I recently decided to become a nurse and am currently in school. I have been dating online for about two years. I have been oddly "unsuccessful" both online and in person. I have always had a revolving door of suitors, but find 99% of them to be underwhelming. Is it too much to ask for a guy who has a good job, his own interests, a decent body and nice face?! Apparently, it is.
My friends say I am too picky. My mother says I am wasting time and the good men are getting scooped up! Is it wrong that I'm stuck on things like hair (or, rather, lack of it) and height (ditto)? Where is the fine line between being discriminating versus too picky?
Mumbling in Morningside
When I first read your letter I thought, "Of course a man should have a decent job and his own interests! That’s not being picky--that’s having good sense!" Then, I got to the end of your letter and thought, "Uh oh." It appears your real hang-ups are related to physical features. Please have a seat, Mumbling, and allow me to dissect the disparity between the genders before I answer your question.
You see, Mumbling, there’s a long-standing myth that women are never hung-up on a man’s looks. All women are assumed to have a very special & unique super-power: x-ray vision. This x-ray vision allows them to beyond a short, bald, out-of-shape man and instead to see a kind, funny, intelligent, driven, devoted, warm-hearted individual who will sexually stimulate them with PERSONALITY!
This garbage, I mean myth, is reinforced by every Hollywood movie in which the beautiful popular girl dumps the hunky (but always a*shole-ish) guy for the less physically appealing, good-hearted nerd. (Why the less physically appealing good-hearted nerd can’t date the less physically appealing good-hearted girl (who’s also cool as hell) is a question that is never asked.) But the answer to this unasked question is the reason why, as children, we are told the fairytale of the Princess and the Frog and not the Prince and the Frog. Men rarely have x-ray vision. The Prince would not kiss the Frog; if he did, he wouldn’t tell anyone and he would fry up some Frog legs before the Frog told anyone.
There are some women, however, who do not possess x-ray vision.
These women have a different super power: accurate vision. These women look at a short, bald, out-of-shape man and do not see a knight. They see a short, bald, out-of-shape man. The world doesn’t have much love for a woman with the power of accurate vision. She’s shallow and picky. As a man, I’m “allowed” to be shallow, but as a woman, you are not.
Putting this gender disparity aside, I urge both camps to stick to this one golden rule:
If you are seriously looking to get into a relationship, pick ONE physical hang-up as a deal-breaker and be open to dating the rest. Pick the one physical characteristic that absolutely dries up your nether region – lack of hair, lack of height, girth – and make that your SOLE physical deal-breaker.
There are cute bald men. There are cute short men. There are cute overweight men. These characteristics in and of themselves do not make a man unattractive. If you find yourself saying, “he is cute but…” and the “but” does not relate to your ONE physical deal-breaker, then yes (damn it!), you are being too picky. For me, my personal physical deal-breaker is a back that starts at the shoulders and extends to the hamstrings (a.k.a. a flat booty). Go ahead, call me Sir Mix-a-lot, but I like big butts and I cannot lie.
On a serious note, do a little soul searching to confirm that your hang-up on looks is not about (1) your ego or (2) your fear of intimacy. Some people seek physical perfection in their mate to flatter their own egos. They want the eye-candy who inspires envy among their friends. Not good. Other times, people seek physical perfection as a means of avoiding intimacy. If they keep seeking something they know they will not find then they don’t have to allow themselves to be vulnerable and open with another human being. Also, not good.
Do a little self-reflecting and make sure neither one of these applies to you, Mumbling. And if they don’t, happy hunting.