I don’t waste time dating. I know within five seconds, at the most, whether I’m going to like the guy in a romantic way. If not, I stay long enough to be polite, get a good mental image of his personality, and hopefully learn about life experiences he has had that will never be part of my life or that I could never dream up, so I can perhaps include a fictionalized version of him in a short story someday. Everyone has some unique stories to share, and I take dating as an opportunity to draw those out and add to my creative idea catalog. Sorry guys, that’s the risk of dating a wannabe novelist. And then I end the date with an unequivocal statement about how I had a good time but, unfortunately, there’s nothing more between us. However, a little while back when I told a date that I wasn’t feeling a connection, his response was, “Well, I guess I date differently.”
I brushed this comment off because its sentiment seemed aligned with my impression of him as someone who had given up on life and was satisfied with mediocrity. I’ve never found value in going on a second date with someone I’m not immediately sexually attracted to. The few times I have, I knew as soon as I showed up for the second date that I was wasting both our time. But a few weeks after the date with this depressing fellow, I began to wonder if maybe he was on to something. Do I too quickly reject guys? Might I ultimately find a deep connection to one of them if I gave him more than two hours?
Personality does matter more than looks. Lasting attraction and desire to be together are built on character and intellectual connections, not on appearance. It’s common sense, and I have plenty of empirical evidence from my own life to back this up. I have dated men that I could look at objectively and think “You’re not actually very good-looking.” and yet I was incredibly drawn to them because I knew them and how smart and fun and accomplished and ambitious they were. Also, I have been in workplace situations where only after several months did I start to feel something for my coworkers. There wasn’t any initial attraction based solely on physical attributes, but after I got to know them, I started to feel drawn to them. And this is why I prefer the sites like OKCupid over sites like Bumble. I want to know more about men than merely what they look like or what 300 characters can hold. I want to know that we have common interests and values and desires. I want to see how they communicate in writing and how much effort they are willing to put to getting to know me.
But I also have empirical evidence to the contrary. I had a close male friend for a long time, through all high school and some years beyond. We hung out all the time and we even lived together, as roommates, for a brief period. For all those years, he had a huge crush on me, but I was never able to reciprocate. I respected him, had a lot of fun hanging out with him, and was sad when he found the love of his life and moved on. But I was never, even for one second, interested in him as more than friends. I’ve also gone out with guys on second and third, and one time even ninth, dates because I found them so interesting and very much wanted to feel a physical attraction for them. But ultimately, that has never worked, and after nine dates was incredibly awkward.
I stand by my decision to decline a second date with this particular guy. He had no personality to speak of. He seemed so uninterested in me that I was rather shocked when he asked about a second date. I was sure his total lack of enthusiasm meant he didn’t care to see me again either. With a few other men, however, I did for a brief period stop giving my old standby “I just don’t feel a connection” line after two drinks and forced myself to think really consider the possibility of a second date with the ones I was on the fence about. But ultimately, the net effect of that was just me leading guys on, dreading their messages about planning another date, not responding for a rude amount of time, and then, finally, awkwardly texting some reason that I changed my mind about going on any subsequent dates. That’s not cool.
So, I went back to trusting my five-second instinct. I’ve gone on plenty of dates where there was an instant physical and mental attraction, including with a man I’m seeing now. Why should I settle for anything else? If the internet did not present this smorgasbord of men to choose from, maybe I would think differently and give a less than spectacular guy more of a chance, but in this world, there’s always someone else to swipe.