There are a million reasons I’m still single. If you ask me, I’ll usually tell you I’m single because I’m too picky, but that’s only part of the equation. In fact, it may be a very small part of the reason.
I’ve always thought of myself as very strange. Not necessarily socially; my emotional and social awareness allows me to deftly interact with people from all sorts of social spheres — skaters to pageant girls; comic book nerds to business men. One of my skills is being able to connect with people from any background.
However, my personal interests are anything but mainstream. While all the cute girls were listening to Justin Bieber, I was listening to Bright Eyes. While they were watching Gilmore Girls, I was watching X-Files. At some point, it got into my mind that because of this disparity, I’d never be able to land a date with an attractive girl. That, or I would need to hide my real self and my true interests when dating someone.
This all changed last year when I began dating a beautiful Guatemalan girl (I was living in Guatemala) named Claudia. On our third date, we had agreed to watch a movie together at my house and landed on Pan’s Labyrinth. It was a film I had seen several times before, and since it was in Spanish, it seemed like a good fit.
“It’s really strange,” I warned her before starting it. “Are you sure you don’t want to watch something less weird?” She said it was fine and she actually liked weird, eerie things.
I didn’t believe her, but we watched it anyway. Even afterward, she said she liked it. After several months of dating her, I found that she actually appreciated my weird, abnormal tastes and came to like many of the films and shows I liked.
Fast forward a few months and I’m living back in the USA, dating a girl named Helen. She also caught on quickly to my strange taste in things eerie, twisted and strange. I had become less shy with them and decided to just go all-in on my transparency.
“That’s so Ethan,” she would say after watching an episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared or seeing BTS photos of creepy indie horror films. Perhaps more foreign to me, these things weren’t dealbreakers for her.
All these things which I had held in my mind as “Reasons _____ Would Never Date Me” had become obliterated over the course of a year.
In a way, it was judgmental of me to project that fear onto these women. I assumed that they were unable to share my interests because they were too pretty/cool/hip/mainstream/etc.
I guess insecurity always seems to do damage, both to yourself and to others. I hurt myself by assuming no one wanted to date me, in part because of my unusual interests in film, art and music. I also hurt others — at least in my own mind and my perception of them — by assuming they couldn’t possibly share my interests. Perhaps it’s a bit of hipster-nerd snobbery, which should be a thing if it’s not already. Maybe that snobbery is really rooted in insecurity though, as we fear rejection so we place our exclusive interests as higher than those of the mainstream merely because they are more obscure.
Regardless, since Claudia, it has been easier to share my full self with women on dates. I no longer fear their ability to connect with my odd fascinations. They don’t have to love those things the same way I do, but they just need to appreciate that I like them — and most people are pretty understanding in that regard. I had underestimated that in the past out of fear. Now, I just relax into meeting new people and unashamedly present my full self and my full catalogue of interests. Fear has no place in dating, and it always damages people on either side.
Not everyone has to share my interests, and if they can’t, then it’s just not meant to be; it’s not the end of the world. I have, however, been pleasantly surprised by how wrong many of my assumptions were in the past.
Try opening up and not trying to look like your idea of ‘normal’ on your next date.
Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised as well.