I'm Picky, And I'm Proud Of It
My friend and I were recently lamenting our lacking love lives when the conversation turned into a proverbial pissing match of self-deprecation.
“I won’t meet anyone anytime soon. I’m just not that attractive.”
“Shut up. At least you have people interested in you.”
“At least you get past the second date.”
“Whatever, it’s not like it goes much farther than that.”
“It would if you’d stop being so picky.”
Wait, what? Picky? Moi? I am many things—careful, honest, logical—but picky? Someone who refuses to try new restaurants because she only eats chicken and rice is picky. Someone who refuses to compromise on traits she deems integral to a man’s character isn’t picky—she’s reasonable.
I tried to explain this to my friend, and what started as a simple discussion quickly morphed into a Supreme Court trial. She maintained that dumping a guy for singular reasons isn’t justifiable. I argued that dumping a guy because talking to him makes me want to slit my wrists just to entertain myself is completely justifiable.
As we continued to disagree, it was apparent that the crux of our dispute lay in the old, horrible, terribly over-generalized adage, “beggars can’t be choosers.” The fundamental problem with this saying is that it implies that asking for something—in this case, a date—is begging. But what if the person in question isn’t actually desperate?
If I’m sitting home alone every night, crying about how I need a boyfriend to complete my life, whining that a penis and a pulse are all I need, then I would have to agree with my friend. If I’ve announced that I’m willing to take whatever I can get, I have no right to bitch and moan if a guy is two inches shorter than I’d like, or if he has a horrendous case of thumb-toes (but is otherwise awesome).
We can’t send a dish back if we’re starving and only have half an hour to eat.
But this isn’t me. I’m not “begging” for a boyfriend. So, I can choose. As can anyone else who isn’t propositioning the first person with the right plumbing.
The adage also implies that being a “chooser” is a bad thing—it’s something we’re not supposed to do. It’s looking a gift-horse in the mouth, and if we’re begging for change or a meal or a spouse, we take what the horse gives us, and we shut up about it.
Well, I disagree. I believe I am completely within my right to be somewhat picky when choosing a mate… as long as I’m willing to accept that, by acting this way, it will take time and effort to find someone I really want to be with. In essence, and rather ironically, I am allowed to make myself completely miserable in pursuit of true happiness.
If we’re not absolutely dying to find someone to bump uglies with share a deep emotional connection with, we can send stuff back to the kitchen for not being hot enough. We just can’t bitch about having to wait around to get a hot piece of meat, because we did it to ourselves.
I’ll also be the first to admit that I make snap judgments about people. I try to give people the chance to prove me wrong. But in relationships, there are only so many chances I can give before I decide that my self-worth is too high to put up with this crap. I went through some fairly abusive, traumatic experiences and years of bad boyfriends and low self-esteem to figure that out, so when people question it, I tend to get pretty defensive.
And since I’ve paid my dues, I feel I’ve earned the right to say no to someone who doesn’t send my heart aflutter, or who doesn’t make me feel like a better person when I’m with them. Everyone deserves to be with someone who makes them happy and respects their worth as a human being, and I refuse to apologize for that anymore. I refuse to believe that dumping or rejecting someone because we have nothing in common, or because we disagree on serious political issues, or because conversations feel like talking to a sedated panda constitutes being picky.
So when I’m approached by a new guy, I treat it like ordering a new dish at a great restaurant. I briefly examine it, decide if I like the way it looks, take a few bites, and if I don’t like it enough to finish it, I don’t. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of relatively unsuccessful dating, it’s that life’s too short for bad food…and bad boyfriends.