Monday, May 28, 2012

Dating - A Nerd's Perspective

Hi, I'm Chris Thatcher, and I misuse commas. I try to look at dating like I look at math and it doesn't always work. I think I'm a decent guy, and I'm looking for a spectacular girl. This post is a little bit out there for me-- it's not something that I'd be comfortable writing all the time. For whatever reason I have written it tonight, and I feel pretty good about it. My hope is that this post doesn't discourage anyone. I've written down a lot of my feelings towards dating. Most of them are fears, but I promise that this is not all negative. As always, I really appreciate comments and hope that you'll enjoy the post.

Dating-- oh how I would like to do that. One of the less understood things in my life. I will once again echo the refrain that Levi told me. "I know exactly what I want in every single aspect of my life except dating". A lot of questions. Incredibly far reaching consequences.

I have a few general policies here on the blog. One of those policies is  to never complain (coincidentally, another policy is to never split the infinitive of a verb, but you can see how well I'm doing at that...) I may or may not break this policy all the time.  The other policy is to never mention specifics about relationships. It's just bad practice. The good news is that my life is pretty dang free of relationships right now. Since I have virtually no interaction with the opposite gender outside of a few texts a week, there is nobody out there that can read this post and be like "Oh my gosh, I think he's talking about me!" So, because of that, I think I will outline a few of the challenges I feel like I'm facing with dating.

I do not intend for this to be discouraging for anyone. Nor do I intend for it to be complain-y. I do intend for it to be enlightening- mostly for my own benefit. I think that stuff like this has value not because it carries with it any inherent truth or understanding, but because it is indicative of what I perceive as my challenges right now. How am I feeling? A valuable part of understanding a situation is less about what the true circumstances are and more about how people are responding to those true circumstances.

So, what scares me about dating? Dating scares me because I recognize that I can fall in love with someone that's not perfect for me. I know that at the end of the day this is right-- it is functioning as designed. I know that no one will be perfect for me. But what if I pick someone that's like, not-that-great for me? I can fall in love with that person and we can be happy together. But why couldn't I have picked someone that was, you know, great for me? I know I won't find perfect, but I'm always afraid that any choice I make won't be optimal. The good news behind this is that I'm convinced that love is real and is more important than the optimal solution.

I'm scared of getting into a "plan b" relationship and then missing the boat on "plan a". How often does someone come along that you are legitimately interested in? Not just a fleeting, "Hey, I could maybe see myself dating this person..." , but someone that makes you think "I will move Heaven and Earth if only for the chance to date her!" Thoughts like this, though rare, do happen to me. So what do you do when that doesn't work out? What do you do when there's no one that currently inspires you to move mountains? Do you pursue the "I could maybe see myself dating this person"- person? Do you hold out and trust that next time will go better than the last awkward time you called a girl on the phone? What is the appropriate response? Where do you draw the line between waiting for that perfect person and doing the best with what is currently available?

I have decided that you can't quantify people. You cannot assign a numeric value to someone. The Levi inside of me would love that to work out. I can't do it. I don't think anyone can. Nor can you know how things will work out in the future. This was the case a lot on the mission. How am I going to be in two years? How is this person going to be in two years? Well, person Y gets back in X months, do I just hold off till then? Will person Y's value in X months exceed person Z's value right now? See, stuff like that doesn't work out. I think it's a good thing it doesn't work out. I am still a little bummed that my normal approach is useless here.

One important thing- people appreciate over time. That is, they become worth more to me over time. When I've felt like there is no one that currently inspires me to move mountains I have never intend to throw all the wonderful girls around me under the bus. I'm sure that there are people that, given time, would inspire me to move mountains. I just haven't discovered that yet. I feel like I've been blessed with an ability to care about people. I'm so grateful for this. But that care takes time to develop. It's hard to have a superficial understanding of someone and care deeply about them. So how do you develop that care? Do you just pick someone that looks promising and get to know them so you can care about them deeply? Is that the gamble I want to play? Do you do a general approach, get to know everyone, and then gamble from there based on preliminary results? Do you pick the best looking one and hope that works out? Random number generators? Come on now, anything would help.

I appreciate chick flicks and love songs because they make me feel stuff in my heart that I don't get to feel that often. I have friends that classify themselves as romantics. I guess that's not me. But when I watch a good chick flick or listen to great songs that I could have slow-danced to at a region dance, it really makes me want to date someone-- it really makes me want to care deeply about someone and spend the rest of my life helping them be happy. There's a very natural desire and need there that occasionally gets buried in the text books and nerdiness of day to day life. Feelings vary wildly, but I'm grateful for the feelings that kick me in the butt and get me out the door and on a date.

I had a great talk with a great friend the other day. He expressed his fear of making decisions based on fleeting emotions. He basically said that he knew he would face a situation where he would feel a certain way. He knows exactly how he'll feel in three months, but he won't know why he feels that way. Will he want to move mountains for this girl because that's what he truly wants or because he's been out of town forever? Because he won't be able to ascertain why he feels that way he has decided that he will ignore the feeling altogether.

This scares me to death. Yeah, feelings are fleeting-- but I think we have them for a reason. Without them I'm sure we'd all grow up to be excellent and lonely engineers. So that's a question for the books- where do we draw the line between what we think and what we feel? Can we trust our feelings exclusively? Can we trust our mind exclusively? When do we throw one out the window in favor of the other?

So where do I stand? The truth is that I think things are alright. Fear is the opposite of faith, right? So why do I say that things scare me to death if I'm trying to be faithful? Well, I still have my concerns. Heck, I still have my fears. I'm working on this faith thing, but I'm man enough to say that I haven't perfect it yet.

Here's what I think. I think that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I think that it's absurd to wait forever for the perfect girl. I do not want to be 40 and lonely because I passed by a trillion excellent girls in pursuit of the nonexistent perfect girl. I don't want to pass up excellent people because they did not impress me in the first superficial seven seconds I spent evaluating them. People's true worth will probably never be known, but I know that I certainly can't approximate it in seven seconds. People deserve a chance.

I think that one day I'm going to meet someone that inspires me to move mountains for her. She will impress me on multiple levels and I will be willing to make a fool of myself to get her to notice me. I will make a valiant attempt-- this attempt will likely be entirely ridiculous. Note that so far none of this is new. It has happened multiple times in the past. The new part is that this girl that inspires me to move mountains will also think I'm pretty cool. Someday I will be impressed by someone that is at least partially impressed by me too. I will logically know that this is a good choice, and I'll feel it too. I won't have to throw either heart or mind out the window because both will be on board. When this happens, we will both be available in one way or another. Timing has historically been my enemy, but when things work out, well shoot, they will work out.

When things work out, I won't feel like I'm playing on insane difficulty when it comes to the relationship. When things work out, they will work. All these questions without answers will stop being such a big deal because we'll both feel that this is working out. We'll both be able to see it working out. We'll wonder why we thought it was so terribly difficult in the first place-- we didn't have to spend forever and a day agonizing over every unanswered question, we just had to find each other.

(oh gag me-- I sound so sappy)

So, somewhere, someday, this is going to work out. Of that I am confident. Until then, well, I'll do the best I can I guess. But I'm sure there's a solution out there for me. And my favorite part of all that is knowing that whoever my solution is, I get to be her solution. Because after all, this is a two way street. I'm searching, sure, but she's gotta be searching too, right? I mean, me trying to find a needle in a haystack isn't the world's easiest thing, but if that needle is trying to find me, well boy howdy, it should go at least twice as fast that way, right?

Dating is complicated. It's not math, and because it's not math it's a little bit over my head sometimes. There's a huge part of me that just wishes I could text girls and ask them out. Society indicates that that's not okay, and fine, I'll play by your rules. At the end of the day I often feel like I'm not cut out for all of this. But hey, that's the way the game is right now. I trust that one day I will find a solution, and because of that I am willing to play the game.

Hmm, it has been good to write tonight. Dating can often be discouraging, but I don't feel so discouraged right now. We work and do the best we can, and one day things work out. Sign me up for that.

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