This article first appeared in Attitude issue 320, April 2020.
As I was thrashing through potential dates on Hinge, Steph exclaimed: “Gosh, you’re so picky!”
I’d become an expert skim-reader and could easily finger my way through a dozen boys in a couple minutes. But it’s easy for her to think that when you’ve been riding the same dick since you were 19.
Times had changed, especially in the dating game. What she saw as picky was actually just an advanced screening process since the three previous dates I’d been on had turned out exactly the same — with me wishing I’d stayed indoors.
There was nothing particularly wrong with any of these men, they just weren’t right. More specifically, they were, for lack of a better word, wet. And not because I looked so good they were dripping with pre-cum.
When you’re a “picky dater”, people like Stephanie see you as high maintenance, judgmental or shallow and while that may be true from her viewpoint, the irony is that we picky daters see people like Stephanie as basic bitches.
It’s not uncommon for long-term relationships, rooted in your teens, to stunt your emotional growth, but in six year’s time, when Grant fucks up in one way or another — possibly by putting his dick somewhere he shouldn’t — she’ll realise that dating so many men ain’t shit, and that’s why being picky is now necessary.
After a while, you realise that pickiness is an evolutionary skill we’ve adapted to survive predators, something you fine-tune based on previous mistakes. For example, I wouldn’t swipe left on someone who was a few inches shorter than my ideal, but they can fuck right off if they listen to Radio 4 or work at LBC.
That may sound superfi cial but a guy’s interests are a pretty clear indication of his personality. It would obviously be less of a riddle if dating apps just asked more appropriate questions, such as: have you ever seen a therapist? How high is your self-esteem? Is Gran Canaria your idea of fun? Are you into choking?
Instead, we’re left to decipher eligibility through fashion choices and short, vague answers to irrelevant question, which is easier when you know the non-negotiable qualities you need from a man.
It also prevents you from being so open-minded you settle: we’d all rather be in a happy mismatched relationship than one based mostly on looks that falls apart at the first hurdle like a three-legged pony.
I won’t even entertain a relationship if I don’t think there’s longevity. This is 2020 and I don’t need a man to waste my time, we have TikTok for that.
Ultimately, there has to be something about him that excites you, that separates him from other men. Mr Average who “seems nice” but doesn’t have much banter probably isn’t going to surprise you and sweep you off your feet.
Maybe I am a little picky, Steph. And I’m OK with that.