Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Prison Break.

At what point does "being too picky" become worse than lowering your standards? My friend was recently asked out by a coworker. Mildly attractive, 40's (over 10 years her senior), he is a janitor, possibly not divorced yet, with an autistic child, who lives with roommates. He also got jumped by a couple of guys and so has a bit of facial bruising and abrasions to add to the sadness of his older-man-charming appearance. The extent of their conversations have been maybe once a week, consisting of maybe one sentence exchanges. This week, he walked into her office, asked if she was dating anyone, and promptly requested her phone number and invited her to dinner. A bit stunned, she agreed. And immediately felt sick afterward.

She thought it was good to accept the invitation, since she had, after all, resolved to stop pre-qualifying dates and disqualifying potential suitors simply because his demographics might not initially appeal to her. This, however, was a bit of a curve ball. She felt particularly bad about knowing that he might not actually be divorced. After another coworker discouraged her date, and several hours of nausea at what she had agreed to, she worked up the courage to call him, leaving a message that said:
Thank you for the invitation. I have decided it's best not to get involved with someone I work with, but I appreciate your thought. Have a great summer.
Hours later, he called back:
Wow. You really shot me down, didn't you? That was harsh. Look, all I was looking for was a friend. I could really use a friend right now. I just wanted to go to dinner, okay? Call me so we can talk about this.
ummm....Confusion. At first her heart went out to the man in this story. He might be going through a rough patch. He could use a friend. Was she jumping the gun in assuming he was interested in more than dinner? But then she remembered. Didn't she just tell him she wasn't interested and politely and clearly convey the message that didn't want to go out with him? What more is there to discuss with someone whose message is longer than any conversation she's ever had with him? Her mind races- is he manipulating her? Isn't the very questioning of her decision inconsiderate on his part? Isn't this very call of his proving he does not respect her feelings or her decision? But, wait...it's just dinner, and maybe he does need a friend now- isn't he going through a divorce? Is she being thoughtless? Selfish? Elitist? Rude? TOO PICKY???
Another friend of mine decided to vacation in Seattle for a month. She found a great little apartment to sublet, a rental car, and her very first weekend there, met a cute, friendly man at church. He had a lot of free time and constantly invited her out on tours of the city, which was exactly what she'd been wanting to do with her vacation. At times, he did things that seemed a little juvenile, and she felt a little too mature around him. She didn't want to blow him off, since he had become such an attentive date. But a few weeks later, he revealed that he had just been released from 10 years in prison, where he had been since he was 18. Okay. So he grew up in prison. He was certainly a nice guy now. If she stopped seeing him at this point, was that judgemental of her? Upon leaving Seattle, she considered if it would be worth the effort a long-distance relationship.

So, at what point do we consider eliminating who we date as being wise and realistic, verses judgemental or picky? If we lower our expectations, are we automatically lowering our standards? Why are we so concerned with what other people may think of our decisions? How is it that ordering pizza is fine with us, until someone asks if we're really going to eat the whole thing on our own? Or that saying someone who is less educated or less mature than you can still make you feel guilty for not dating him/her just because they happen to find YOU attractive? How is it we allow guilt to play such a big part in what we find acceptable behavior, when the choices we make for ourselves should be our own?


Here's what I think. I think it's a fine line between "being open-minded" and "ignoring your own instincts." I think the better you know yourself and what you need and what you can honestly accept, the less guilty you'll feel about allowing people- any sort of people- into your life. Because the last thing you want for anyone is to invite someone who doesn't respect your boundaries to become the one in charge of them.

20 comments:

K said...

Farrah-
You are brilliant. And articulate. And wise. Thanks for clarifying the real problem here. And relieving guilt-ridden women everywhere who struggle with NOT wanting to make babies with janitors, parolees, and/or prisoners.

f*bomb. said...

I wouldn't mind making babies with this Lincoln fellow. Have you SEEN "Prison Break?"
LANDY.

Rosy said...

If women didn't lower their standards I'd never get a date! hahaha

No really, I'm not Brad Pitt but I tend to be successful in dating the girls I find attractive. I can't help but think that initially I do not measure up physically with the average GQ model. However, often find that if a girl takes a chance my personality oftentimes puts me over the top.

The same applies to me. I have much broader criteria than I had when I was twenty two.

Kory said...

Was the ex-inmate a strutural engineer who was in Prison to help his brother escape because he was framed by the president and wrongly convitecd of murder, and then he turned into a Gap model?

If so, she MAY be too picky (I heart Michael Scholfeild). If not, things like Prison aren't red flags, their disqualifiers.

f*bomb. said...

See? And I had another friend who was being set up with a guy who was brilliant, entertaining, and witty. He was also a convict, and she discovered he was STILL IN PRISON when he called and wrote her. She was appalled.
I said, "But what if he thought his crime wasn't THAT big of a deal?"
And she said, "What kind of guy steals, gets imprisoned, and then lies about his life?"
It's amazing what we'll justify when it comes to allowing romance in our lives.

f*bomb. said...

And, Rose, they're not "lowering their standards" by going out with someone who has a great personality and a good heart. They're hitting a gold mine.

cropstar5 said...

mmm... wentworth... so hot...
drooling...

veeda said...

the older co-worker is being manipulative.

Vanilla Vice said...

Older men are always manipulative. That's what I tell my dad anyways.

I just don't know what to say anymore. I think I've said enough on my blog. you should hear my newest rant on baseball players. It's coming...Cheaters.

f*bomb. said...

I was in prison once, Kory. Does that disqualify me?

...That even SOUNDS menacing when you see it in print. Anyone like Danger?

f*bomb. said...

PS-
She'll be glad to hear you think he's being manipulative...She feels bad enough as it is. I asked someone else about this situation, and she brought up a good point:
Why is he responding in a defensive way that intends to make her feel bad? Wouldn't it have been more mature (and less threatening) to simply say, "Well, I'm disappointed, but I understand. If you ever want to go out again..." and just leave it at that?

Defensiveness usually indicates hostility somewhere beneath the surface. If he's this manipulative NOW, how would he be when you're actually INVOLVED? Steer clear, lady. Steer CLEAR.

Ali B. said...

I HEART Wentworth Miller!

f*bomb. said...

Meridith tried convincing us he was gay. Dream-Crusher.

f*bomb. said...

Not that that's ever been a deterrant for me, right Bradley?

Lindsey said...

Thank you for the wonderful pics! Don't be surprised if I check back every 15 minutes to see my bf Wentworth Miller! I love him!

Cherry said...

Being the friend that went out on dates with the guy who spent 11 years in prison- I can say that when I was 19 years old I had different expectations / goals of dating than I did when I was 32 years old. No matter how old you are if your gut tells you "red flag" - listen! Shakespeare wrote "to thine own self be true!"

f*bomb. said...

Well, I know MEL GIBSON, and- he didn't say that. That Polonius guy did.

Aaron said...

it IS amazing the things we say to ourselves, and others, when attempting to justify a lot of things. not just romance.

and if i were in vegas, i'd bet the janitor was looking for a consolation date and likely more than just dinner.

f*bomb. said...

Looking for more?
Like what, Aaron?
Wiping the board together? Pounding erasers? Whatever do you mean???

Aaron said...

he was thinking van halen - hot for teacher video