The Pushkin Problem

postwar
Your blogger in PR last week, with the book she’s been reading for five effing months because she spends too much time on the internet and reads too many things for law school, leaving Tony Judt 2/3rds incomplete. This makes her sad, and potential partners will probably reject her for it.

I have so been here.

Yes, I judge people by their literary choices. Do you list The Da Vinci Code as one of your favorite books on Facebook? Talk about how great Ayn Rand is? Read John Grisham novels somewhere other than on an airplane or the beach? Think that God is super smart for having written the Bible? Even worse, say that you don’t like to read? I’m running in the other direction (especially when it comes to dating you).

Yes, it’s judgmental. Yes, perhaps it is a little mean. I don’t care. Dating is a compatibility game, and I don’t imagine things would ever work out with someone who thinks Dan Brown is the height of great literature or that Ayn Rand had some awesome ideas (or was even a decent writer). Literary taste can be a pretty good weeding-out mechanism, and for me it’s right up there along with foodie- and wino-ness (can’t date a guy who only eats to live and doesn’t really care what he puts in his mouth); progressive values (no Republicans, Libertarians or apathetic people, please); and an interest in politics, feminism and media (that’s pretty much what I do all day, so I’d like to be able to talk about it). And you definitely have to like dogs. Preferably big ones.

Before someone jumps on me for being snobby or judgmental, this is a values issue and, as I said before, a compatibility game. There are a lot of things that are worth compromising on, but the things that take up a good deal of my time and that I thoroughly enjoy — food, wine, politics, reading, and adorable slobbery hairy beasts — I want to be able to share with my partner. Other people might privilege other things, and that’s fine too — I’m sure there are plenty of people who seek out partners who share their religion or their vegetarianism or their love of music or their passion for sports or whatever else.

So before this gets too serious, what are your unconventional deal-breakers in relationships? And has anyone read any good books lately?

118 comments for “The Pushkin Problem

  1. SarahMC
    March 31, 2008 at 10:17 am

    It’s not bad to be judgemental about certain things. Judging a person based on her weight is in a different category than judging a person based on personality traits/interests/hobbies. And I don’t mean judging whether that person is a person of value, but judging whether you’d get along with that person or whether that person is intelligent, trustworthy, ethical, etc.
    The word “judge” has sort of been warped to the point that “judging” is viewed as universally wrong. It’s not. We all have to make judgements each and every day. If you witness a babysitter hitting or neglecting a baby, it’s not *wrong* to make the judgement that s/he is not a skilled caregiver. Just an example. And if you know someone worships Ayn Rand, it’s perfectly rational to judge that that person is a libertarian and therefore not worth getting to know. ;-) j/k

  2. Placebogirl
    March 31, 2008 at 10:18 am

    No one that doesn’t love music — and by music I mean the popular styles, not classical or jazz or anything “intellectual” (whether popular styles are not intellectual is debatable, but it’s not a debate I am going to have here). No one who hates physical activity, because I am active, and between work and the gym and hiking and rock climbing I would never see them. For health reasons, no one who requires their partner be a vegetarian — I have a health issue that means I have high protein needs and cannot digest many vegetable sources of it. And my partner doesn’t need to be a reader, but they do need to be a thinker and the two tend to go hand in hand.

    Good books: Just read an anthology of autobiographical snippets of famous authors (including Alice Sebold, Esther Freud, Nick Hornby) called ‘Truth or Dare’, edited by Justine Picardie. Found ‘Slut’ by Leora Tanenboum quite interesting. Loved ‘The Fresco’ by Sheri S. Tepper — fairly lightweight, but immensely funny (and feminist funny, which is always nice). Also enjoyed ‘Other People’s Children’ by Joanna Trollope — again, not heavy going, but a pretty real portrayal of what it is like to be in a blended family.

  3. March 31, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I broke up with a man who doesn’t read much fiction for a man who reads lots, and who majored in philosophy and literary studies. I won’t even be friends with someone who adores Ayn Rand.

    There are no longer any “deal-breakers” for me because the deal is made, hopefully permanently. But past big turn-offs included a limited palate (only eating at chain restaurants!), political apathy, and political stupidity (holding political views substantiated by idiotic arguments).

    My friends have rejected people for lack of professional ambition, height, musical talent, or sartorial style. Not one of those things has ever mattered to me in the least.

    Oh, and I consider myself pretty well-read, but I don’t know who Pushkin is.

  4. March 31, 2008 at 10:28 am

    So before this gets too serious, what are your unconventional deal-breakers in relationships?

    “The Da Vinci Code” was a somewhat entertaining way to kill an afternoon and avoid studying for finals, as I recall, but, like you, I would run away screaming if Boyfriend suddenly announced that it was his favourite book (well, that, and make sure he hasn’t fallen victim to the Body Snatchers).

    And has anyone read any good books lately?

    I’m actually catching up on my reading right now, so am not reading much news stuff, but “Atonement” was pretty terrific. Also, “The Girls of Riyadh” is fascinating purely for the newness of the subject matter (much of the writing itself left me a bit cold).

    The bestest modern writer in the universe is, nevertheless, Kate Atkinson. Favourite by her is her second – “Human Croquet.” If “Mrs. Dalloway” had “split the atom” (according to Michael Cunningham), “Human Croquet” wrestled with the space-time continuum and won (according to me).

  5. gabbi
    March 31, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Being REALLY into sports (like so into it that you refuse to miss a game) because I can’t stand sports and don’t really see the point of it unless I’m drunk, belonging to a frat (the whole “group think” thing has to go), and using drugs more than occasionally. Also if you wear wide leg jeans or cargo pants or button down striped shirts or spike the front of your hair: NO.

  6. sminbrooklyn
    March 31, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I couldn’t date someone who throws away cans and bottles. That behavior makes me want to rip my hair out.

    The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing is pretty great.

  7. Jamie Jeans
    March 31, 2008 at 10:39 am

    The last good book I read and finished was The Stronger Women Get, The More Men Love Football: Sexism in Sports, although I’ve forgotten the author’s name. It was both frustrating and heartening to read, and it was published back in 93, I believe, but overall, I was glad I read it.

    As for deal breakers in looking for someone, well, it’s mainly politics and how you view the world. If you’re really right wing and view the world in generalizations, then forget it, I’m not interested. Also wanting to live and do interesting things is another, as I’ve had male friends I don’t see anymore because they’re interested only in existing, rather than living.

    I’m also looking forward to Jennifer Estep’s newest superhero novel, Hot Mama. She’s a great writer and I loved her previous book, Karma Girl.

  8. March 31, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Just finished Dancing to “Almendra” by Mayra Montero a couple of weeks ago — that was quite good, although the translation was clunky in places. It might be worth reading in Spanish if yours is good enough.

    I’ve also been re-reading Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I love that book. I can’t speak to translations from first-hand experience, but I suspect the Pevear/Volokhonsky one is good.

  9. Linnaeus
    March 31, 2008 at 10:50 am

    It’s not bad to be judgemental about certain things. Judging a person based on her weight is in a different category than judging a person based on personality traits/interests/hobbies. And I don’t mean judging whether that person is a person of value, but judging whether you’d get along with that person or whether that person is intelligent, trustworthy, ethical, etc.

    I agree that we all have preferences in a partner – both in terms of physical attributes and personality/interests – and it’s not wrong to make choices, i.e., judge, along those lines. I would, however, add two caveats. First, I think it’s a good idea every now and then to examine your own preferences and re-evaluate them. Sometimes what you want in a partner (and what you’ll compromise on) changes over time due to age (or maturity), exposure to different kinds of people, and your own changing interests and values. Second, be willing to accept that as you judge, so shall you be judged. It’s funny sometimes how people often do no apply to themselves the same standards that they require of someone else, i.e., “my criteria are entirely sound, but yours are silly and arbitrary and how dare you judge me based on them!”

    I don’t know if I have any “unconventional” deal breakers, since I came to the dating, sex, and relationship game later than most people have. Someone whose politics are very different than mine is probably someone I wouldn’t get on with. You don’t have to like sports, but if you despise it so much that you can’t understand at all why I’d like to watch a football game or the Stanley Cup playoffs, then there’d be problem between us. I’m pretty compromising on literary and musical tastes; my last girlfriend had very different tastes in books than I did, but it wasn’t a problem for me and I discovered that I actually liked some of the stuff she read. I don’t know yet how far I’d go in making compromises in those areas. Excessive class snobbery would get to me eventually; again, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your preferences, but if you can’t understand and refuse to even try to understand my own background, that’s a dealbreaker.

    Early dealbreakers: asking me either before or on the first date, “why are you still in school?” or “why are you (still) single?” No, I won’t be calling you after that.

  10. Linnaeus
    March 31, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Forgot the books. Outside of my usual academic reading, I just finished the Dune chronicles. Better than I though they’d be, though the series is uneven in quality. Admittedly, it’s hard to maintain what you achieved in the first book throughout the next five books.

  11. March 31, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I think politics is a big deal-breaker for me. I don’t need to agree with someone, in fact I prefer someone who will challenge and argue with me (though not from a conservative position). Basically I need someone who will be on the same page as me, which also leaves out religious people of all sorts, right-wingers, anti-feminists, homophobes, deep deep deep etcetera.

    I suppose a more unusual deal-breaker is that the person has to be someone interested in opening up their horizons. I was once in a long-term relationship in which the other person tried hard but ultimately had no interest in my culture or what happened in my home country. My current partner very much wants to hear these things, and it’s become a dealbreaker for me. South America too far away or unimportant to you? Well, I’m sorry, we’re not hiring right now.

    re: good books, I’m reading the much recommended Whipping Girl, and finding it incredibly enlightening, though it’s not my first encounter with trans politics. It’s just something I am glad to be getting to grips with, for a number of reasons. Before that, I was reading Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, and before you ask, no, I’m not doing a course on Gender Studies (I may in the near future). Before that, I read “Flow my tears, the policeman said” by Philip K Dick, which I enjoyed immensely.

  12. DAS
    March 31, 2008 at 10:55 am

    If I were still single, I’d be asking Jill what she thought of having for the “favorite books” category on my facebook page, “humourous sci-fi”.

    Anyway … Jill: I am married to someone who appreciates a good meal but is hardly the gourmet that I style myself to be (“I mind my belly very studiously and carefully” to quote my all time favorite Tory) — and it works out just fine and may it work out until the youngest of us is 120.

    But what you say about values is important … people often miss that and think “oh, religion, etc., won’t matter when we’re in love”, but the basic values one gets, e.g. from religion, do enter into marital arrangments (especially once kids get involved and you have to decide whether to teach the kid about the FSM or the Sky Fairy). I have a very dear friend with very different values to my own … but I could not marry him (well besides the fact that we’re both straight men and they don’t allow gay marriage anyway) — if only because his religion teaches “chastity in marriage” and my religion’s “version” of Acts 10:9-15 is “Meat which comes form the abattoir may be eaten salted, roasted, cooked, or seethed, so with fish from the fishmonger… A woman once came before Rabbi [Judah the Prince] and said, ‘Rabbi, I set a table before my husband [for a romantic dinner, so to speak] and he overturned it [a Rabbinic metaphor for having sex other than missionary position with the lights out].’ Rabbi replied, ‘My daughter, the Torah has permitted [this].” (Nedarim 20b) … imagine when it came to teh sex and he’d only feel comfortable having sex if we wanted to have a kid while in my religion sex is always kosher as long as it’s consentual?

  13. March 31, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Android or android-sympathizer.

  14. lisa
    March 31, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I’m with gabbi, big into sports is a NO. But otherwise, I’m surprised to find myself with someone who is really. not. like. me.

    Me: education activist, feminist, food lover (largely vegetarian), artist, south side Chicago inhabitant.

    Him: architect (currently at a firm doing luxury condos), socially liberal but otherwise moderately conservative, deep space/robot enthusiast, Hot Pocket eater, Wrigleyville inhabitant.

    Actually, it gives us a lot to talk about. He sometimes asks me whether it’s hard for me to be dating a non-hippie/non-activist, since that’s who I usually date. I made the point that as long as he encourages me to live my life as I want to, including my activist, lefty pursuits (and is happy to hear about it all the time!), and given that as he treats me as an equal partner in the relationship even though he wouldn’t call himself a feminist, then we’re doing alright. If I were to ever feel stifled or judged for my choices, he’d be gone in a heartbeat.

    We trade books and movies all the time (my Basquiat for his Terminator, that kind of thing), and it’s a lot of fun. I make good food for us, he buys most of the groceries and cleans all the dishes. I have no idea if this little experiment will work out in the long run (whatever that means), but it’s been really eye-opening for me and I would encourage people to lighten up a bit on what they think are their dating preferences and spend time with someone with whom they have a strong emotional connection.

  15. March 31, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Do you list The Da Vinci Code as one of your favorite books on Facebook?

    Did you see http://booksthatmakeyoudumb.virgil.gr/ ?

  16. March 31, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Everything that Jill said plus they need to have the same adventurous travel spirit that I have. I’ve been with too many people who think that Las Vegas is the height of fun or that think that the only foreign countries worth visiting are the ones where English is the main language (Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. If they are really shooting for exotic, they throw in South Africa).

  17. heather
    March 31, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Poor grammar. Oh, how it burns when I see “its” and “it’s” used interchangeably. A small part of me dies, and I pretty much lose respect for the author.

    As for books, the last one I read was “Ghost Map”, about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London, and before that was “Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth”. I’m slightly nerdy.

  18. puggins
    March 31, 2008 at 11:10 am

    And you definitely have to like dogs. Preferably big ones.

    Wow, and here I was thinking that cat ownership was a virtual prerequisite for liberal bloggership.

    I still marvel at just how incompatible my wife and I are in terms of media consumption. She likes Anna Quindlen and Anne Lamott, and I like trashy fantasy novels and war histories that are so dry that they suck the water out of the eyeballs of any sane reader. She likes “Straight or Gay” (or whatever that show’s called on LOGO) and “What Not to Wear,” I like Battlestar Galactica, the Soup and Super Hero cartoons. She loved Juno, and I’ve seen Cloverfield twice. Love is a strange, strange animal.

    I’d recommend a good book, but- you know- the eyeball thing.

  19. FashionablyEvil
    March 31, 2008 at 11:18 am

    (OT) The only good part of the NYT article was the first paragraph, which then devolves into this whole “women are picky about this, men aren’t, unsubstantiated anecdotes, blah, blah, blah.”

    On topic, I happen to love Robertson Davies at the moment, especially What’s Bred in the Bone.

  20. pinkpicnic
    March 31, 2008 at 11:18 am

    My husband is a physicist, and reads lots on the internet, but not so much book-books. It took me a little while to get over my snobbishness and realize that reading is reading. It also helped that he was a vegetarian feminist, even before I was.

  21. March 31, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Actually, I should mention another thing that is huge huge huge, and it’s being open-minded in general. This is something quite rare, but let’s have a very superficial example:

    Before meeting me, my current partner never paid much attention to comics. She doesn’t read them now, but she now understands them much more, and wouldn’t dismiss them offhand. Similarly, through her I’ve started looking a lot at fashion magazines. Not only because I do enjoy fashion, but because some of my favourite comic artists are or were involved in fashion, and there’s an interesting overlap there. My partner found my Five Star Stories artbooks fascinating (the author, Mamoru Nagano, is a former fashion designer, and FSS is a fantasy comic).

    So yeah, sharing, truly being interested in sharing. One oughtn’t change oneself completely for the other, but there has to be an important overlap and a willingness to learn from each other.

  22. Bitter Scribe
    March 31, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Dealbreakers: She has to be able to at least tolerate classical music once in a while. I won’t drag someone to a classical concert every week if that’s not her thing, but if you run away screaming with your hands over your ears every time you hear Beethoven, it’s not gonna work.

    Books: I highly, highly recommend Girls of Tender Age by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. It’s a memoir about her struggle to come to grips with the brutal murder of a young classmate. Even though nothing like that happened in my life, I could really relate to the author on so many other levels: age, ethnicity, social class, suburban environment, having an autistic brother, etc. The insight, wit and elegance of the writing are just astounding.

  23. MC
    March 31, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Being a huge literary nerd, I completely, 100% agree.

  24. MC
    March 31, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Natalia: I tried reading Atonement but just couldn’t get through it. I found it boring.

    Of course, I loath Jane Austen, and I found Atonement similar in some ways to Austen, and I guess that’s why I just couldn’t stomach it. I guess it also says something that my favorite American author is John Steinbeck.

  25. MC
    March 31, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Oh, and dealbreakres: Homophobia. Bigotry. Republicans.

    And I can’t date someone who doesn’t read. I don’t particularly care what they read, but it bothers me when someone says, “I’ve not picked up a book since I was forced to in high school!” Ick.

    A recent good book that I read was Alma Rose by Edith Forbes. It was a sweet, simple lesbian love story, and very well written.

    Third post in a row, sorry! It’s Monday and I’m not quite awake yet.

  26. March 31, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Natalia: I tried reading Atonement but just couldn’t get through it. I found it boring.

    It’s funny you should mention that. The first time I tried to read it, I went “ohmygodthissucksmustrunawaynow.”

    A few years later, I picked it up, and it was holding a completely different book in my hands.

    Am still not sure what to make of that, to be honest.

    While we’re on the subject of recommending good literature – Zadie Smith rocked my face off with her latest, “On Beauty.”

  27. L-K
    March 31, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Wow, do I have a shitload of dealbreakers:

    1) No one who doesn’t get it: sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, xenophobia, etc. (I work in an organization that pretty much focuses on a combination of all these factors, so it surrounds my everyday life pretty much 24/7.). No republicans, no libertarians, no apathetic people.

    2) No one preppy-looking or yuppie-looking…or pretty much “normal” looking (I’m a goth chick/metalhead). The same applies for music.

    3) No hipsters or “fashionable gentrifiers.” I don’t care if I’m summing up, but the ones around my way tend to be so damn arrogant and a bunch of “know-it-alls” (when, quite frankly, they don’t know know much about nothing; my morning train rides are excruciatingly painful for my ears). Yet, for the vast part, they completely possesses the “doesn’t get it” factor in terms of gentrification.

    4) No “OMGZ, teh environmentz” people. Again, it somewhat connects to the third dealbreaker. Yes, of course I care. But, if I have to hear one more conversation about the “dangers” of corn, the push for all organic food (without considering the economic implications for low-income individuals), and the need for a Whole Foods in every section of every borough, because in some way it will help “teh worldz,” yet they don’t care about the immediate, social environment around them, then we got a problem. Damn, so many times I have been tempted to just whip out and slurp on a bottle of high fructose corn syrup every time the damn corn subject comes up (and yes, it comes up a lot as of lately).

    5) Overtly skinny men. If I can bench press you with relative ease and for multiple repetitions (I’m a weightlifter), then we have a problem. If your legs are skinner than my arms, we got a problem. If you wear skinny jeans to emphasize the fact that you got skinny legs because you actually think it’s cute, then we got a bigger problem.

  28. Betty Boondoggle
    March 31, 2008 at 11:58 am

    ooh fun. Dealbreakers – being anti-choice, bigots, those unwilling to listen to opposing viewpoints, obessed sports fans, anyone who buys or subscribes to “lad mags”, people who like Tom Cruise movies (blergh), anyone overly inhibited or clueless in bed who isn’t willing to learn.

    I don’t read much fiction (though I love Neal Stephenson), and am right now reading Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. Which, I guess could be fiction, for an atheist.

  29. March 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I used to confuse my openmindedness toward everyone’s choices in general with an ability to tolerate those things in a partner. I ended up with a Muslim who wanted to tell me how to dress and never read. (Though he roped me in early on by asking to borrow a book I had about the genocide in Rwanda. Which after two years he never actually read.)

    So, while I will support your religious choices no matter what, I will not date someone who is seriously religious, because I’m just not. and I will no longer tolerate nonreaders. I am a writer, if someone doesn’t like to read they will have no interest in what I do, and that just sucks.

    I don’t think I could deal with someone who is completely politically apathetic. I might actually be more willing to deal with a republican than with someone who just doesn’t pay attention.

    and I haven’t had too much time for good books lately, but I did polish off The Boys On The Bus and The Selling Of The President earlier in the semester when I had a bit more spare time.

  30. Linnaeus
    March 31, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    I don’t read much fiction (though I love Neal Stephenson), and am right now reading Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. Which, I guess could be fiction, for an atheist.

    You could think of it as philosophy, I suppose.

  31. holly e.r.
    March 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    CAREFUL, CAREFUL. Some commenter (okay, I know their tag) on Pandadgon Friday and yesterday, got all up on me for pointing out that if someone is into jam bands, I’m probably not likely to want to get to know them. In his eyes, that’s “bigoted” of me.

    I guess that’s why all of my close friends (not necessarily coworkers and MSW classmates) share smilar tastes in music, movies, visual art, books, arts in general… oh, and possess all of their own unique smarts.

    see, according to random 10, boy: I’m a “BIGOT”, for being choosy with whom I spend my free time with, or assuming if they’re hardcore Dave Mathews Band fans, that I just might not have that much in common with him. I really didn’t feel the need to explain that people with widely divergent interests were fine for me, to deal with on a professional basis; that I really don’t care if they prefer reading “Good Housekeeping” to “Make/Shift”, if they’re not close friends of mine. But, you know: I take this into consideration when deciding who I’m ringing on a Saturday night to shake off the week.

    So, let’s all try to be a little less bigoted, here. /snark

    Books, magazines, even television programs friends enjoy- they all matter to me. That’s just one of the many reasons I’m getting married to a math Ph.D. candidate who can quote the Buffy show, and has “Good, Good, Things” as his ringtone for me. Oh, and boytoy: he’s totally a feminist. I’m sooo shallow.

  32. Betty Boondoggle
    March 31, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    You could think of it as philosophy, I suppose.

    Of course. But it’s religious philiosphy (at least, that’s what it seems like now, I’m still only in Book 1).

  33. March 31, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    L-K: Do you think being that skinny is reprehensible, or is it just a turn-off for you?

  34. holly e.r.
    March 31, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    oh, I’ve started quite a few good books lately- boytoy just keeps moving them around, and professors keep reminding me that I graduate in a few weeks, and need to work on this huge project, that huge project… so, not a lot of time to free read, right now. don’t even have time for friends’ birthdays (including smart boy’s) and my own marriage send-off, or justice of the peace, dealio.

    so, yeah: the above things I mentioned: back to dating partners- all of that criteria fit for potential significant others, as well as friend choice.

    JAM BANDS: THE HOLLY DEAL BREAKER.

    (I am going to maybe try to sneak a little reading of the latest Bitch in, today, at my practicum- we’ll see)

  35. Linnaeus
    March 31, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Yeah, there’s religious/spiritual elements to it (though I am by no means any kind of expert), but it struck me as a little different compared to other religious texts I know, so I tended to view it as more philosophical. Just my thing, though.

  36. L-K
    March 31, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Not reprehensible, just a turn-off. It’s due to my lifestyle: I lift weights religiously, I’m pretty buff, I have a good amount of muscle mass under this fat that I have to dissolve, I eat six times a day, etc. (I’m also quite aware that this in itself is a turn-off for most men, so ehh, whatever).

    The thing that’s reprehensible are those damn skinny jeans.

  37. Betty Boondoggle
    March 31, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    but it struck me as a little different compared to other religious texts I know, so I tended to view it as more philosophical. Just my thing,

    I totally agree. It’s lighter on the religion and heavier on the morality. I can get behind that, even if I don’t believe in a supreme being.

  38. March 31, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I will absolutely never ever date another person who needs me to be monogamous.

    I’d say “everything else is up for grabs” but that’s not really true when it comes to picking partners. Lovers and the less-involved relationships have a lot of leeway, but the people I have in my life, my heart, my home 24/7 need to be able to keep up with me intellectually, share or at least appreciate my passions (which include the structures of privilege/power/oppression around gender and race/ethnicity), and not mind the bit of whirling chaos that tends to comprise my person.

    Not liking animals is definitely a huge turn-off. Not liking children is getting up there – but I suspect this is mostly because I’m pregnant and, well, having a kid pretty much eliminates all the kid-haters from my innermost social circle.

  39. March 31, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Overtly skinny men. If I can bench press you with relative ease and for multiple repetitions (I’m a weightlifter), then we have a problem. If your legs are skinner than my arms, we got a problem. If you wear skinny jeans to emphasize the fact that you got skinny legs because you actually think it’s cute, then we got a bigger problem.

    Ha. I looooove skinny dudes in skinny jeans. I date men who are far skinnier than me with astounding regularity. They also tend to be at least a full foot taller than I am.

    So feel free to send your skinny-jeans-wearing dudes my way ;-)

  40. ElleBeMe
    March 31, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Before I was married I refused to date anyone who:

    Still lived with his parents
    Was a churchgoer/was religious (ANY denomination)
    Was anti-choice
    Anyone who had an over-inflated ego
    Anyone who lacked manners
    Anyone who treated his family badly
    And liked country music.

    I got exactly what I wanted when I married my husband – all except the country music thingy. He likes it, but listens to it when i’m not around. He could say the same for me when I was into Techno…

    I could have cared less what books he was into and vice versa. Husband isn’t much of a reader, I am. Although fiction isn’t my cup of tea. Last book I read was Ghost Wars by Steve Coll. The next book I plan on reading is The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler.

  41. March 31, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    It’s sad that the concept that “judging” is just bad has gotten to this point. People need to clarify concepts. Judging a person unfit to vote because they wear patchouli is wrong, but judging them as annoying in your personal space is fair.

  42. Jay
    March 31, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    I agree with the poster who said that using judgment is OK when you’re deciding who you want to be with. The problem with judgment is making the leap from “not right for me” to “bad for everybody”.

    25 years ago I would have told you that I’d only marry a Jewish guy, preferably a singer or musician, certainly not a hard-core scientist.

    The guy I married 23 years ago does have a good ear and is now learning to play drums, but he is a hard-core scientist and he wasn’t Jewish when I married him. I had a lot of assumptions about what values people would hold if they didn’t meet my criteria, and it turned out that he shared my values where it counted. Which is what really matters. And the open-mindedness someone mentioned above is also key.

  43. March 31, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    It’s not bad to be judgemental about certain things. Judging a person based on her weight is in a different category than judging a person based on personality traits/interests/hobbies.

    Hell, it’s more complex than that. You’re missing out if you exclude fat people from friendship on that basis, but you can’t force sexual attraction, and why should you?

  44. March 31, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I can’t date anyone who isn’t funny or doesn’t laugh at my jokes. I am a total man about this. I define “having a sense of humor” as “thinking I’m funny”, but I’m better than Chris Hitchens, because I permit people I’m sleeping with to also be funny. In fact, I require it.

  45. March 31, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    39: If you show up in a mesh hat and drinking a PBR, you and your date could cause an instantaneous hipster bingo win.

  46. rowmyboat
    March 31, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Oh, Jill! You and I seem to have drastically similar tastes — good food, books, feminism, and big dogs — all my loves!

    After a horrible relationship at the beginning of college, I actually sat myself down and wrote up a list of important qualities I should seek in future partners. it was a very useful mental workout, and I consulted the list for a couple years whenever I met a new potential partner. I kept it updated whenever I changed my mind, or learned new things about myself and the rest of humanity. I have a much better idea now of what I seek than I did then, and am also more ready to feject possible partners if they are not up to snuff (thanks, feminism!).

    I am absolutely uninterested in conservatives, the anti-choice, or those who are not feminists/pro-feminists. I’m willing to sometimes consider someone who isn’t into open relationships (cause I am), but they’d better be really stellar otherwise. I want people who don’t have stagnant minds — life-long learners, avid readers, etc. And honestly, they need to be smart. I need some intellectual challenge. I never dated a man as smart as me until after college, and I’ll tell you, it’s great and I’m never going back. I want physically active partners, because they are going hiking, biking, climbing, swimming, boating, etc. and they’d better be able to keep up. No whining! I insist that my partners be financially responsible. This doesn’t mean well off, cause Dog knows I am not at this point, but capable of managing whatever finances it is they do have responsibly. Drug use, smoking, and heavy drinking is out. A more than mild interest in religion (any of them) will be a big no for me. Folks with bad pet allergies won’t do for long term relationships, cause, while I don’t have any pets now, there will be many in the future. Also, cleanliness; even if we don’t live together, but especially if we do, I need the people to pick up after themselves and keep tidy. And I refuse to live with messy people.

    On the other hand — things I want or am willing to accept: short men, polyglots, scientists, writers, musical ability, bi- or pansexuality, the polyamorous, farmers, vegetarians, teetotalers, chefs or bakers, Socialists, Democrats, illegal immigrants, librarians. by no means a complete list. I really should find he actual list…

    As for what I’ve been reading lately — I’m part of the way through Dworkin’s Intercourse. Did you know that it’s a lot of literary criticism??

  47. rowmyboat
    March 31, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    “I used to confuse my openmindedness toward everyone’s choices in general with an ability to tolerate those things in a partner.”

    Oh yeah, that was my mistake early on, too.

  48. L-K
    March 31, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    So feel free to send your skinny-jeans-wearing dudes my way ;-)

    LOL, you might as well go to my gym. I know you’re pretty close to it (it’s in the Lower East Side). “The skinny-jeans-wearing” skinny dudes issue is the primary reason why I love my gym: no waiting for the weight equipment. They always go for the cardio machines instead. However, this same scene has me mentally yelling “get off the damn machine, do squats, and freakin’ EAT!” I swear, one of these days I’m going to start a “Feed the NYC Hipsters” sponsorship program.

  49. March 31, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    39: If you show up in a mesh hat and drinking a PBR, you and your date could cause an instantaneous hipster bingo win.

    Ha. Ok, the mesh hat is a deal-breaker, as is PBR — I need a guy who drinks some sort of snobby German import. (Which I suppose is probably its own square in Hipster Bingo).

  50. kate
    March 31, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Yes. Compatibility quirks such as literary taste is important.
    This guyfriend of mine that I’ve been shamelessy flirting with for a while recently described, in detail, his overt love for Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and that he’ll give me his copy to read this week. My nature-loving/idealist/queer/hippie heart just about melted. I think shameless flirtation has officially morphed into fullblown crush.

    Foodies, or how one feels about food, is another dealbreaker I can definitely relate to.

  51. Bitter Scribe
    March 31, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    …you can’t force sexual attraction, and why should you?

    Sadly, you’re absolutely right. Without going into details, I’ll just say that if you could “force sexual attraction,” my love life would be a lot easier. I daresay that’s true of many other people.

  52. DAS
    March 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I swear, one of these days I’m going to start a “Feed the NYC Hipsters” sponsorship program. – L-K

    I can imagine the ads ;)

  53. DAS
    March 31, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    If I can bench press you with relative ease and for multiple repetitions (I’m a weightlifter), then we have a problem. – L-K

    Actually, I think it would be teh hawt if my wife could bench press me with relative ease and for multiple repetitions (and I could similarly bench-press her): imagine the implications for sex.

  54. L-K
    March 31, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Actually, I think it would be teh hawt if my wife could bench press me with relative ease and for multiple repetitions (and I could similarly bench-press her): imagine the implications for sex.

    Dammit, the kinky ones are always taken!!!

    Plain ol’ vanilla sex: that’s another dealbreaker right there.

  55. Betty Boondoggle
    March 31, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Plain ol’ vanilla sex: that’s another dealbreaker right there.

    Ramen to that!

  56. Linnaeus
    March 31, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I’ll third that.

  57. March 31, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I swear, one of these days I’m going to start a “Feed the NYC Hipsters” sponsorship program.

    I would be more than happy to take them all out to dinner.

  58. Beth
    March 31, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve been chatting with this guy (I’ve been doing the online dating thing which is annoying but better than being hit on at a bar imo) anyway, he’s really interesting to talk to, but he told me hates reading, that a teacher ruined books for him. Like wow, he’s 26 years old and he’s allowing some old prof to control his interests? And 2nd, he hates water, like swimming in a pool, lake, ocean, or sitting in a boat of any kind. And yeah, those are basically two major deal breakers for me. The more we talk the more I can see through his intellectual facade, because the boy does not read. He has no clue when I discuss allusions in a tv show to a book, because he does NOT read. And I can’t invite him to come and hang out with me, because I spend almost my entire weekend outside by my apt’s pool reading. Or I’m finding a way to the beach. Or I’m relaxing in the hot tub at night. I basically live in the water. No matter if we do love the same movies, eventually our incompatibility will get in the way.

    I actually have a stack of books to read including The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beavior. I was excited to find that in the boxes of books my dad didn’t want anymore.

  59. Roxie
    March 31, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Being closed off, ex “I don’t like it cause I don’t know what it is and I’m going to get to know what it is b/c I don’t like it.”

    Also, people who say, “I’m not really into music/books”. I mean, that’s what they say, but what I hear is “I’m not really into breathing/being alive”

    People who are absolutely determined to make sure they are not happy.
    Someone who takes no joy in eating.

    Also, stealing L-K’s #1

    And I have to have some one who can at least tolerate or have a mild interest in Harry Potter and BtVS. Because I will talk your ear off.

    Being ashamed of what you enjoy or brings joy to you.

  60. Kate
    March 31, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I love this post! Books are really important to me — someone I’m interested in doesn’t necessarily have to have read all of my favorites, but s/he does need to be willing to read them, and definitely read things together (which my partner and I have been doing, and tastes in common are crucial). I don’t think I could date someone who liked Catcher in the Rye, and that ties into being really unattracted to apathy for me. Also important: feminist values (went on a few dates with a guy and every time we argued about gender. It was not a long-lived experience.), being a musician (he’s an opera singer, I’m a classical flutist), environmentally conscious (recycling, preference for local organic food, vegetarian-friendly), physically active, fun and adventurous in bed, able to keep up with me intellectually but not threatened by my intellect/success.
    I have definitely ruled dating partners out because of books, but again more so because of politics (like the guy who tried to convince me that maybe women just weren’t good at science, and shouldn’t we play to our strengths?).

    —-

    Just recently read East of Eden and The Book Thief and loved both madly.

  61. MC
    March 31, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Kate: East of Eden!! Bestill my heart. John Steinbeck makes me swoon. Cannery Row is my faaaavorite.

    I’m about to re-read 1984 and Animal Farm as soon as they come in the mail. Can’t wait. Love them both to bits, even if they are rather depressing.

    I must say that I really quite liked Stephen King’s new book Duma Key — it was old school Stephen King and totally creepy and wonderful. I read Misery, my first King book, when I was 9, and I still have a soft spot for him.

  62. rowmyboat
    March 31, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    “…you can’t force sexual attraction, and why should you?”

    Maybe not force, but I strongly believe that a good dose of reasoned thinking can, and should certainly influence it. Otherwise we have to write off huge parts of the human race as unable to change, and utterly not worth the time engaging with when it comes to things like feminism. Cause some of us sure think that the kinds of men who would only date someone who is a size 4 or less should rearrange their thinking a little bit. And that my friends, would be wishing them to change their sexual attractions.
    We get an awful lot of our ideas and feelings about attraction from socialization, media, etc., and that’s bad news. So we all need to do a little rethinking about what we are attracted to and why.

  63. Nico
    March 31, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Here’s one that going to make me look like a total bitch: Guys who turn everything into a joke/make a joke at everything.
    Pop culture seems to be always telling dudes how much women love a man who is funny – well apparently a lot of them have really taken that advice to heart. So much so that when I bring up a serious topic, be it political, artistic or personal, I get a clever joke in response. Look, we all use jokes to lighten the mood when things are getting too serious, but if you don’t even HAVE a serious side? It’s not gonna work out.
    Books-wise I really enjoyed The Terror Dream.

  64. Danakitty
    March 31, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Well… I won’t date someone who is pro-life, carries a Bible around, votes Republican, and doesn’t enjoy a good debate. I won’t date a drug addict or alcoholic. I won’t date someone who can’t kiss well. I won’t date someone I’m not physically attracted to. I won’t date someone who doesn’t love good conversation.

    However, I admit that I have compromised with my current BF … he doesn’t read a lot. As a kid of the electronic generation, he’s more into TV/video games/computer games than reading. I grew up in a household devoid of games and a lot of books. So he does read a little, but not nearly as much as I do, and I’m usually the one that keeps him up to date on current events. (I smile when I come home and he’s actually watching the news because I know that’s my influence.)

    I also kind of like that he doesn’t read a lot, because if I write something and he reads it, I can tell if he likes it or if it keeps him interested. He can’t comment on how it was written, but he knows what is interesting, which I think is the first step toward good writing.

    Umm… anyway, I just picked up Diablo Cody’s book Candy Girl (she’s the one who wrote Juno) and I was a little bit disappointed. I love her wit and the book is really funny and quick to read…. but like Juno, I think it lacked a little bit of depth and insight. She had a few moments of throwing in some really nice insight, but it didn’t seem like she had really taken the time to consider her thoughts of the entire issue.

  65. Rose
    March 31, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Deal Breakers –

    Non-Adventurous Food People: I went out with a 23 year-old American man who had never had Chinese food! As in, not even the fried sweet-and-sour chain restaurant stuff, much less anything close to authentic! He considered Italian food to be exotic. I am a vegetarian, and I absolutely love Indian food, so someone who won’t at least occasionally go out with me for non-burger food is a no go.

    People Who Are Really Into Overconsumption: I like shopping, but I really don’t like status symbols. Hummer automobiles piss me off, and I’m not too keen on other luxury cars. I can appreciate the nice things in life, but I guess my bigger problem is making a show of it for the benefit of others. And in general, I like to bike and use my car less, so if someone’s against public transit, I find that really annoying.

    Hunters: I don’t think I could get into people who thinks it’s fun to spend a weekend shooting animals.

  66. DAS
    March 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Non-Adventurous Food People: I went out with a 23 year-old American man who had never had Chinese food! As in, not even the fried sweet-and-sour chain restaurant stuff, much less anything close to authentic! He considered Italian food to be exotic. I am a vegetarian, and I absolutely love Indian food, so someone who won’t at least occasionally go out with me for non-burger food is a no go. – Rose

    This reminds me of my late maternal grandparents. My grandfather was a real meat and potatoes guy but my grandmother had (for her generation) quite exotic tastes. As a kid, whenever my grandparents had us for the day, we’d always go to some Greek or Spanish or North African restaurant (my grandmother loved mediteranean food). I figured that my grandparents were being nice to my brother and I because my mom’s food allergies precluded us from having such food with my parents. What I learned later is this was my grandmother’s way of getting her husband to go along with her own food tastes. If she made that sort of thing at home or went out with him for that sort of thing, he would have complained to no end … but with us grandkids in tow, he didn’t wanna make a fuss and look like a spoil-sport to us, so we grandkids didn’t even get to know how picky he actually was.

  67. Lizz
    March 31, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I had a lot of assumptions about what values people would hold if they didn’t meet my criteria, and it turned out that he shared my values where it counted. Which is what really matters. And the open-mindedness someone mentioned above is also ke

    Exactly.
    I can’t name books that would be dealbreakers for me. Obviously, if someone has similar tastes, that is definitely a turn on because it gives us a lot to talk about, and it’s always fascinating to get a different perspective that isn’t necessarily negative, but rather, a different spin. However, I’m not going to stop talking to someone I am interested in because they do/do not do X, Y, or Z. It seems silly and shallow to me when the traits I’m really looking for have little to do with their taste in books or music.

  68. holly e.r.
    March 31, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    also, not a fan of most sports. so, you know: don’t hang with many sports fans. the only way I can explain that one of my greatest friends from school was a basketball player in college (she’s now a policewoman), and my current partner and a former boyfriend have left me able to ignore their interest in basketball? we all graduated from KU. otherwise, that’d be another mark. I’ve just resigned myself to accepting that this was an okay interest- considering my life-long location in the country.

    I also don’t like watching KU games, as I get sucked into them, while flipping through research or a copy of Bitch. math boy pokes fun at this. I can’t help it: I get sucked in when the game is tight, and they’re playing a few blocks from home.

    anyway, other than non-american football and rugby fans- can’t really understand the fascination. then there are a couple of my friends from MU, that became interested in MU sports, post-graduation. they tricked me into going to a “hipster” bar, when KU lost that one football game to MU, by (I think) one point. I was totally oblivious to the fact that a game was going on; all I heard was “meet us for drinks”. point: none (except my basketball-playing friend Alissa) of my friends are true sports fans. nothing like a herd of sports fans milling about in KC or Lawrence, KS, to set my blood a-boiling. definite turn-off.

  69. bekabot
    March 31, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    If the guy reads the novels in the Left Behind series for any reason other than to make fun of them, I’m done.

  70. March 31, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    The deal-breakers that come to mind:

    1. Racism, sexism, homophobia, fatphobia, etc. – I know it’s inescapable in our culture and there are things I’d call someone on but not disown someone over, but if you assume that because I’m a straight white American male that I’m down with your hate then GTFO.

    2. Being pro-life. Doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, but it does mean that there’s no way we’re ever having sex. Even the kinds that don’t have a risk of pregnancy.

    3. Being very into illegal drugs, even the “harmless” ones. Not my thing, not worth it.

    4. Expecting me to adopt a stereotypical gender role.

    5. Dismissing gaming or reading young adult fiction (or any other hobby, but those are the main ones) as “immature.”

    6. Unadventurous with respect to food. If you’re a vegetarian, or keep kosher, or have dietary allergies, that’s fine, provided you respect my right to eat what you won’t when I’m not with you. If you refuse all Indian food, Thai food, Japanese food, etc., then that’s gonna be a problem.

    My “danger signs”:

    1. No guilty pleasure reading. If all you read is serious nonfiction and Great Literature, and don’t have any genre (i.e., romance, mystery, SF, horror) or YA fiction lying around, I’m going to suspect you don’t actually read for fun, but to be able to say you’re “well-read.” That or you’re just a snob. It doesn’t even have to be something I’d read; heck, my favorite bookblog is about a genre I don’t read much.

    2. Politics. There are very few women who don’t identify as progressive that I can still have a reasonable conversation about politics with, but there are some, so this isn’t quite a deal-breaker.

    3. Female submissives. Too often this seems like a cover for deal-breaker #4 in the bedroom, and I’m typically not into it enough to go through the effort of finding out what’s up.

  71. March 31, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I’m not sure I have particular deal-breakers; more like a series of things that–if they reached a critical mass–would be a problem. Like, we have to have *enough* in common that we can share a space and enjoy one another’s company. Some things I think about:

    1. Openness to feminism and questioning gender roles (and other “common sense” mainstream notions) a definite must. I’m not asking that he or she be a political activist, but I totally need someone who’s willing to engage with me about the ideas that (like Jill said) I never get tired of thinking about. Plus, I do not want to live with anyone who’s going to judge me on conventional, sexist terms, since I don’t–and don’t want to–pass muster.

    2. Orientation toward family life. I’m undecided about having kids (when/if/how), but I’m close to my parents and siblings, and I know I thrive in intergenerational spaces. I start feeling weird if I’m not around people of different ages–older, younger, in between–for long periods of time. I want the people I live with to be open to the sort of chaotic messiness that comes with having kids running around the house, parents and grandparents who need support, friends at different life stages dropping by, that sort of thing.

    3. A commitment to a balanced, holistic life. This sort of goes with #2. I’m in grad school right now, with the aim of finding a job that helps me pursue my interests and get paid for them . . . but I don’t like the feverish, over-scheduled lives most Americans these days tend to live, regardless of what profession they’re in. I want to work toward a life that balances employment with relationships and family; I want a partner who knows when to call it quits at the end of the day, the end of the week, and just take time out.

    There are probably others, but those are three big ones that come to mind.

    Right now, outside of academic research, I’m reading Amanda’s new book It’s a Jungle Out There, which I picked up at WAM! this weekend (hilarious!), Fox Woman by Kij Johnson (a re-told Japanese folktale), and Sexual Fluidity by Lisa Diamond (which deserves more sustain attention than I can give it right now).

  72. March 31, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Unadventurous with respect to food. If you’re a vegetarian, or keep kosher, or have dietary allergies, that’s fine, provided you respect my right to eat what you won’t when I’m not with you. If you refuse all Indian food, Thai food, Japanese food, etc., then that’s gonna be a problem.

    This is sooo key. I’ve never dated a picky eater because I just don’t think I could handle it, but I have dated guys who don’t care about food, and take very little pleasure in it. It was weird. I also can’t handle people who are really possessive about their food. I’m a food-sharer to the max, and when I go out to dinner with someone, I assume that we’re going to pick a few dishes together and share everything. People who have to have their own solo plate and get offended by someone touching it are not people I’m ever going to be compatible with.

  73. meggygurl
    March 31, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Hey! I liked the DiVinci Code! That’s right… I said it. But I would not put it in my top 25 books or anything. I liked the idea behind it. It was a good page turner. But to me a deal breaker is to not be overly snobby. If you can’t enjoy some crappy pop music and thriller books for what they are… then you take yourself way to seriously in my book. Me and my gf have one bookshelf for non-fiction books mostly about war, gender studies, and LGBT issues. Then we have one for our fiction books, and there is everything from The DiVinci Code to Atonement to To Kill a Mockingbird (my personal favorite book of all time.)

    I also have a collection of manga. So I have no shame.

    My deal breaker is someone who can be relaxed about life. I tend to be very high strung. I need someone to make me take things easier.

    I also refuse to ever date a virgin again. Ever. You need to have had at LEAST one sexual partner before me. I would prefer more. Me and my gf are tied. we’ve both slept with 7 people.

    No gay republicans for me. If you hate yourself that much, I don’t wanna deal with you.

    I want someone who is OUT. No closeted lesbians for me. This is my biggest one.

  74. March 31, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    People who have to have their own solo plate and get offended by someone touching it are not people I’m ever going to be compatible with.

    Exactly. Which is one of the reasons that if I go out to eat with someone who has dietary restrictions, I’ll get something they can share.

    Incidentally, this reminds me of a “danger sign” I forgot in the other post: dieters. At least, the ones who make sure you know that they’re on a diet and they hate it.

  75. meggygurl
    March 31, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    While my other comment is awaiting moderation (I’m not sure why…) I remembered one.

    Calorie counters. The ones that have to tell you how many calories everything they, you, and everyone around you eats is. If I wanted to know, I would look it up, thanks. Girls like that make me want to punch something. What’s the point of eating if you can’t enjoy your food a little bit? I can cannot enjoy food when someone is pointing out everything I eat. (Mind you, I do Weight Watchers, so I tend to be aware myself. But I don’t feel the need to dwell on it or tell anyone else their’s.)

  76. rowmyboat
    March 31, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Oh, I am also unwilling to date someone much older/younger than I am.

    For one thing, I am not, not, NOT interested in men who are much older than I am. Let’s deal with one power dynamic at a time, thank you very much.

    I don’ really want partners too far in either direction, because that puts us at drastically different points in life, and I’m looking for partners who are doing the same kind of life things that I am.

    Since I’m at the tail end of 23 now, this means that my age range for potential partners is about 20-27 (current partner being 22). Any younger than that and there’s just too much growing for the person to do, and much younger would be illegal. Older than that, and I feel like the person is not my peer, so, as I said, the age difference power dynamics must be dealt with as well as the gender ones. Also, I’m a broke ass grad student, and many folks who are more than just a few years older than I have moved on from that point.

  77. exholt
    March 31, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Currently reading “The Origins of the Boxer Uprising” by Joseph Esherick and “To Steal A Book Is An Elegant Offense” by William P. Alford. Though the first is tangentially related to my studies…the latter is more to see one American legal scholar’s interpretation on possible factors on why China and other Confucian based societies may not view intellectual property the same ways as those in Western Europe or the US.

    My current dealbreakers are those who are financially irresponsible (i.e. Wasting money replacing furniture, high end electronics, etc every 3-6 months because they “gotta have the latest and greatest”.), have no interest/look down upon academics/intellectuals…especially historians, and those who snob and look down upon others because of their socio-economic status or because others may not conform to the upper-middle class American consumerist lifestyle.

    The first and third are due to growing up in a family where my parents and grandparents lived in times of war, social chaos, and economic deprivation and seeing upper/upper-middle-class/wannabe classmates and co-workers suffering under the consequences of their lavish spending habits. I especially detest those who snob/brag about wealth that was obtained through family and not earned through their own efforts/accomplishments.

    The second dealbreaker is such because I am an aspiring historian studying in academia and I regard the American popular culture’s tendency to rag on academics/intellectuals as a manifestation of the strong anti-intellectualism that I abhor….and one possible reason why we are constantly in an educational crisis from K-12 and even into the university.

    Though I have a strong interest in reading and in music, I tend to dislike the rank socio-economic snobbery some of its fans…especially fans of “elite” or “intellectual” forms bring to those hobbies. Witnessed plenty of both from relatives and in college…especially with a well-renowned conservatory on campus.

    It did not help matters that most of the literature grad students I’ve encountered tend to be trust-fund kids who feel entitled to pass abrupt judgment on anyone who did not have the educational access and family economic resources needed to initiate and maintain a strong interest in literature from childhood into grad school.

    From personal experience…unless one has the financial resources, is lucky enough to win a substantial scholarship, and is willing to withstand the overpretentiousness and the sarcastic put-downs of many supposedly more “erudite” classmates….most students I’ve known tend to eventually decline to delve into the finer points of the “The Story of the Stone/Dream of the Red Chamber/Hong Lou Meng”*, “The Tale of Genji”, “Pride and Prejudice”, or “Crime and Punishment”.

    I don’t think I could date someone who liked Catcher in the Rye, and that ties into being really unattracted to apathy for me.

    Funnily enough, reading Catcher in the Rye in 8th grade and again in high school served as a catalyst in encouraging me to question authority figures such as teachers sometimes even to the expense of being punished with visits to the high school dean or poor grades. Though I continued to do the same in college, nearly all the Professors had the exact opposite reaction…they lauded students like who openly challenged them.

    * Interestingly enough, while “The Story of The Stone/Dream of the Red Chamber/Hong Lou Meng” is considered a Chinese literary classic in the present with its own field of “Redology”, that was not the case back when it came out in the 18th century. The fact it was written in vernacular rather than literary Chinese caused it to be scorned as “low-brow” literature by the scholar-gentry ruling elite. Although it was read by many within that elite….most would not be caught dead with it on the pain of having their intellectual acumen and professionalism called into question.

  78. March 31, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    @Nico: Yes, yes, YES! on the jokes. I don’t want things I feel strongly about to be turned into a joke. (At least not “more often than not.”) Also, when we talk, I don’t want the feeling you’re really just waiting for an opening to slink in something “funny.” I don’t want to feel like I’m your audience. I want you to be in love with me more than with your own cleverness.

  79. March 31, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    I used to love books (fiction and non-fiction both) as a kid/teen. Now? I read a lot (screen, not paper, mostly) as part of my current job, and then I read a lot online out of interest. Which means that by the time I turn off the screen, mine eyes are too tired for me to consider reading more, and besides after reading a lot of concise stuff online, many books feel like “inflating a 3-page idea to 300 pages because nobody will buy a 30-page book.” IOW, “tl;dr” — I have about ten books I’m in the middle of right now, but I haven’t finished a lot of books of late, so I really won’t fault the other party if they haven’t.

    More to the point though. Pretty much like “things you could say during love-making”, the number of potential turn-offs seems much larger than that of potential turn-ons. One guy tried to get me interested in Sci-Fi and gave me a book about the Kzinti (a race where apparently the females are “genetically engineered for dumbness so they’re not a problem.”) — charming. Another two guys thought the way to win my heart when I was goth was to give to me Anne Rice’s awful rape prose. Another, on realising that I wasn’t 100 % vanilla, tried to pass off Gor novels as something other than a crime against humanity. Seriously, if you own a book, don’t tell anyone, it’s just going to work against you in my experience. (Not that I didn’t appreciate those early warnings, mind you.) The only time books worked in the other party’s favour was with a woman (we shared a love of Wilde).

    More to the point still: I need to respect them as an equal (not more, not less), they need to respect me as an equal. Anything else, I’d ultimately feel alone even with them around.

  80. March 31, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    @rowmyboat, # 76: I’m the same age as you (I’ll be 24 in July), and my SO is 29. I thought the age gap would be a big problem when we got together, but he argued that because I was almost done with college and he was in the middle of grad school, that we were actually peers. I have come to believe that where you are in life is a more important indicator than age (within limits — I don’t think it would be ethical for me to have a relationship with a teenager, however “mature” they are). But a fellow student five or six years older than me is probably a closer match than someone my own age who’s chosen a radically different life path.

    Dealbreakers: insistence on rigid gender roles, apathy, an “I’ve got mine, so screw you” mentality, dominance or submission (this is not to condemn all BDSMers; I just know it’s not for me), lack of curiosity, lack of nerdy or geeky interests. I also probably wouldn’t be a good partner for someone who needs a really active social life, because I am autistic and can’t handle a lot of contact with other people.

    Of course, my current relationship is also my first. We’ll see how many of these dealbreakers change over time.

    Books I’m reading now: Catharine MacKinnon’s Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, Robert Minor’s Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to Be Human, the anthology Women from Another Planet? Our Lives in the Universe of Autism and Ursula LeGuin’s Three Hainish Novels.

  81. March 31, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Oh, one addendum to the Dealbreakers list. A really weird one.

    I have the most powerful, irrational loathing for people who use “baby” as a pet name. If you call me your baby, I’m pretty much guaranteed not to think of you as anything but a creep after that. And forget about me dating you.

    Does anyone else share this one? I’m actually a bit stumped as to why I have it; there was no Horrible Ex of Doom who called me baby or anything, I just think it’s a stupid, creepy nickname.

  82. Luna
    March 31, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Well, I’m married and monogamous, and have been for 13 years now, so it’s hard to think about, but I do have a few odd dealbreakers:

    1) I need a TV in the bedroom. I fall asleep to it. Nothing else works on my insomnia.
    2) Neat freaks. I can’t deal with them.
    3) Spendy people. Again. Can’t deal. I’m cheap frugal. I can’t deal with consumerism for the sake of it. Buy what you need, use what you buy.

  83. March 31, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Does anyone else share this one?

    Could it be because of the girl in Dirty Dancing :o) ? My sister finally got me to watch that movie a couple of years ago (I somehow missed it when I was a teenager) and, wow, was I creeped out by the fact that the main actress is called “Baby” throughout the entire movie. Tied in with the fact she’s supposed to be really young and naive, it was little a little too Lolita for me.

  84. Anne Onne
    March 31, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    All the usuals: Vehemently pro-life conservatives, anybody who laughs at rape jokes, or worse, makes them and bigots of any form. Anybody who is really religious (I count myself as very liberally Christian (doesn’t that make bieng christian somewhat meaningless, I wonder…) , so somebody who likewise is a humanist first and _____ second would do. Naturally, atheists are good to go.

    Anybody who wants a relationship to be some sort of power struggle in which I’m supposed to ultimately give in to. and anybody who infantilises me, (I hate ‘baby’, too, Lindsay…I just hate the word generally. Too much sloppy usage kind of sullies it. Neither grown women (or even girls for that matter), nor foetuses are babies, and anybody who suggests they are, in any way, is not worth it.

    I love reading, and whilst it’s a bonus in my books, I can understand when people don’t have time to read, so for me it’s more about the potential- that that person is open to new things, and might. They need to be curious, because I am, and because dealing with somebody like me is only going to be easy if the same kind of life that I love to lead is what they want.

    And natrually, somebody who can’t have long conversations about completely random things, or can’t stand ‘serious talk’. I admit I love to talk (or rant) about anything, from the everyday, to the political, to the random, and somebody who doesn’t also enjoy it wouldn’t have fun with me. Somebody who has a sense of humour (a proper, quirky, geeky one, not limited to laughing at fart jokes or disembodied boob accessories), who can joke a good joke, but who can find me funny, and not feel threatened that I have a sense of humour.

    Anybody who can’t respect my interests enough to at least say ‘whatever floats your boat’, or at least try to see what it’s about. I’d do the same for them, and it really irritates me when people decide to belittle you for your interests and hobbies, even when you are uncomfortable, then are *shocked* when you show them the door. Meggygurl, ditto on the manga. If even my completely-uninterested-in-graphic-novels friends can be civil and occasionally interested in my manga, then it’s not too much to ask that a partner doesn’t think ‘comics are for kids’ or whatnot.

    I’m probably too young at the moment to seriously consider dating somebody much older than me (and much younger, but that would be illegal anyway) because I don’t think we’d have that much in common if we were at completely different stages of life. I dont’ mind several years’ leeway theoretically, if the person is at a similar maturity level (the number of men who have been 10 years older than me, but mental adolescents is frightening!) then several years wouldn’t be a big problem in itself. I don’t like power differentials, though, and a lot of older men seem to come with the specific intention of hoping for a youger, so that they are more malleable, so, ick.

    In the end, for me it’s just about someone who will respect the things that I like, even if they don’t share all of them. I’d do the same for them, and the more things in common, the more we’d have to share.

    Also, it’s important for them to be different enough to make me think, and add something to my life. Not to mention have their own life, and not share ALL interests or do everything together. But that’s not been an issue so far, and if I were to meet a clone of myself, I’d be too shocked to date them, probably.

    I’m not that shocked by the deal breakers here (probably because I share many of them…)So I would agree that being discerning about choice of life partner isn’t wrong. So for me, being picky is really doing them a service, too, because if they are that different, they won’t enjoy spending time with you. You’re trying to find somebody (or people) who not only would you be happy with, but would also be happy living with you and your personality and interests.

  85. Anne Onne
    March 31, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Hoe could I have forgotten financial responsibility? I like to try and take care of my money, or at least not fritter it all away, so somebody who is intent on spending it all on anything really lavish is not a good idea. For a start, we’d argue like hell.

    Also, somebody who likes to go out roughly the same as I do. Which is to say, not a complete social recluse (because even I get out occasionally), but more importantly, not someone who really lives for going out every night. Love my party animal friends to pieces, but if I had to either stay home alone whilst partner went out most times, or go out every night when I really don’t feel like it, and socialise like hell, I won’t be happy, and neither will they.

    Smokers. I might be theoretically willing to let this slip, but it’s vile. My mother smokes, and I never want to live in another smoky house if I can avoid it.

  86. exholt
    March 31, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    If you refuse all Indian food, Thai food, Japanese food, etc., then that’s gonna be a problem.

    I have a hard time understanding this as I love to try diverse cuisines from different parts of the world…or regions within the states.

    Though I enjoy partaking in good food, optimal enjoyment for me could only occur in a social setting such as dates, hangouts with friends, family, etc. If I happen to be alone during a mealtime, I would opt for something simple and plain as I personally think it is a waste to enjoy good food without the company of others.

    Spendy people. Again. Can’t deal. I’m cheap frugal. I can’t deal with consumerism for the sake of it. Buy what you need, use what you buy.

    Luna,

    Agree 100%. One of the things that has astounded me when I interact with most people, especially people in my age group in university and workplace settings, is how being a frugal person who only buys what I need and could use is not only considered a negative trait…but makes me out to be some sort of miserly freak. What’s funny is that miserly is one adjective no one who knows me well would use…including former dates.

  87. March 31, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    I have to admit that I’m a terrible contrarian about this stuff. If someone I’ve just recently met asks me what kind of music I like or books I read, I usually look at them with a straight face and say “Oh… I don’t really listen to music at all. I’m always doing something else and I find it distracting” or “Hmm, I don’t know. I haven’t really read a book in eight or nine years. I mostly just read The Brothers Karamazov over, and over, and over.” I can usually tell a lot about someone by how horrified they are, whether they call bullshit, etc.

    Although honestly, I rarely ever finish reading books, it’s a problem I have.

  88. ks
    March 31, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I’ve been married for almost 10 years now, so I don’t really have any current dealbreakers. We’ve managed to compromise/learn to live with each other’s annoying habits.

    However, we’re similar enough in politics, temperament, life goals, etc., that things like his crappy taste in music (he loves really loud techno/club stuff) and my taste in books (I have a weakness for romance novels, preferably the bodice rippers) can be mostly overlooked.

    As for books, not including the trashy novels, I’m currently in the middle of How to Pick a Peach and I just finished a history of the first amendment from 1870-ish to the present (I don’t remember the exact title). And I read Whipping Girl a few weeks ago. I also like biographies of scientists and history of science type books. Not really into the “classics” though.

  89. Lisa
    March 31, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    I like good books and music, but I also have some really pedestrian, strip-mall tastes as well. If you can’t occasionally enjoy the guilty pleasures of Harry Potter books and the filthy, vile celebreality shows on VH1, then you probably will be totally embarrassed to have me as a friend or lover – and I will probably be bored. Oh well. I always manage to find the people who recognize and love the good stuff but have a passion for the crap (and not in an ironic way either) When I observed someone (who is now a very good friend of mine ) purchasing “The Science of Sleep” and “The Hot Chick” I knew that this was a potential BFF – I was totally right.

  90. prairielily
    March 31, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    (Members of theatlasphere.com, a dating and fan site for devotees of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” might disagree.)

    All I could think when I read that line was, “OH MY GOD THEY’RE BREEDING!!!! THE HORROR! THE HORROR!” So I’m pretty comfortable saying that Ayn Rand is a deal breaker for me.

    Other things:

    1) Spicy or “exotic” food. I dated a guy once who couldn’t handle it at all. I thought it was a silly thing to eliminate someone for, but it turned out to be a huge problem. My family is Pakistani, and we just couldn’t ever have dinner with them. He couldn’t eat anything, and he didn’t even really want to try.

    2) Pro-choice, pro-equality, and in light of an argument I just had with a friend, cognizant of race, gender, and class issues, and the need for things like hate crime legislation. I don’t want to deal with someone like that in my leisure time.

    3) Straight teeth. I feel pretty guilty about this one, because I know I’m eliminating almost everyone who didn’t have parents rich enough to afford braces, but I just can’t force attraction.

    4) I can’t be with someone who smokes or wears strong scents. It would just make me miserable all the time, what with the coughing and the trouble breathing and the eyes watering.

    5) No more than three years age difference in each direction. It’s a little less for people younger than me, because I can’t bring myself to check out someone as young as or younger than my little brother without feeling like a pedophile. He’s a little less than three years younger.

    6) This one is tongue in cheek, but I like to be the pretty one. I don’t want to be with a guy who spends a lot more time on his appearance than I do. A little more is ok, because I spend so little time on my appearance most of the time.

  91. Manju
    March 31, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Ayn Rand advocated judgementalism and advised her followers to only date those who shared their values. Clearly, Dominique Francon was patterned after Jill.

  92. L-K
    March 31, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    6) This one is tongue in cheek, but I like to be the pretty one. I don’t want to be with a guy who spends a lot more time on his appearance than I do. A little more is ok, because I spend so little time on my appearance most of the time.

    Interestingly enough, I’m the opposite. The guy has to be prettier than me (see, another dealbreaker. Hey, what can I say, I like to look at pretty things). He also has to be in possession of black eyeliner and black nail polish, at the minimum. *Sighs* How I wish I could find someone who’s as fond of M.A.C. as I am…and, oh, not be gay. Queer/bi/pansexual/etc. men are completely fine, however.

  93. tee
    March 31, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    It goes without saying that being a feminist is a must. deal-breakers would be as jfpbookworm says – “Racism, sexism, homophobia, fatphobia” etc. I’m an atheist, so I guess that’d have to be a non-issue with them. I’d definitely prefer to be with a fellow atheist, or at least leaning-towards-atheism-agnostic. Obsessive types (sport, world of warcraft, politics) are a turn off for me. Although i guess i’m pretty obsessive about certain things (reading!), so i guess it’s be a balancing act.

    My partner meets all this criteria and I’m thankful I didn’t judge him on his taste in (or rather, lack-of) books, because I’ve only seen him read twice in four years, ‘Papillon’ and a poorly written, discounted ‘True Crime Stories’ book. I thought that the most important thing to me would have been a love of literature, as I read constantly but he tolerates my reading lust, and I tolerate his art-lust (he’s an obsessive tattoo-artist). I pine sometimes for him to curl up in bed with me, sharing my favourite books but since everything else seems to be good, I’m not complaining.

    I’ve got a thing for intellectuals too but he’s more the arty-type. He’s pretty good to bounce ideas off and he’s happy to listen to my incessant ramblings, so it’s good enough for me. I find shared reading love and intellectual-equality amongst my close friends anyway.

    @rowmyboat

    i actually prefer my partner to be older than me. sure, there may be men/women out there that play the power card with the age thing but my current partner is 8 years older than me and he’s never held it over me. in fact, we seem the age gap doesn’t seem to have much bearing at all on our relationship. we have a lot to teach each other, he thrives from my eagerness to figure the world out, and i find his world-experience fascinating. and the list goes on.

    i just think it’s not a matter of what age you are, but rather, as Lindsay said, it’s more to do with where you both are in your life. we seem to come out about even when everything is weighed up, and i think that’s why it works.

  94. March 31, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I completely agree with the Ayn Rand thing.

    I could also never see myself with someone who thinks the victims of Hurricane Katrina should have just gotten out when they were warned. Makes my blood boil just thinking about it.

  95. March 31, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Dealbreakers – political or social conservatism, anyone very relgious or even very spiritually inclined (I’m a hardcore atheist), antiquated ideas about gender. So those are the boring obvious ones, but I hardly know any men like that anyway. The real dealbreakers…

    Anyone who isn’t interested in books and music, and I mean REALLY interested. Doesn’t have to mean that their taste exactly matches mine, but somene who’s simply indifferent to those things…I’d be checking to see if he actually had a pulse. Anyone who isn’t a foodie or who doesn’t have a wide and adventurous palate. Anyone who pays no attention to what’s going on in the world, and I don’t just mean in America, I really do mean the world. Anyone who likes to stick close to home and doesn’t enjoy travelling.

    And now the ones that are going to be controversial…I won’t date anyone who grew up in a homogenous, mono-cultural environment. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work. I also won’t date anyone who isn’t pretty well educated – again, tried and it was horrible. I’m wary of people who hate their parents unless there’s an actual reason, especially if they’re men and the parent they hate is their mother. I also won’t date men who hate all their exes – it’s possible that a guy could have run across a few basket cases, but if the describes every woman he’s ever dated as “that crazy bitch”? Buh-bye. Lack of emotional stability is a dealbreaker – everyone has issues, but I will only date you if yours can fit neatly in the overhead compartment.

    And about this comment, honestly, I could not disagree more.

    ““…you can’t force sexual attraction, and why should you?”

    Maybe not force, but I strongly believe that a good dose of reasoned thinking can, and should certainly influence it.”

    Sorry, but no. Attraction is not purely a matter of social conditioning. Look at me – I’ve liked tall, skinny men with teeny but toned little muscles and long hair and pretty faces my entire life. No ammount of cultural pressure has ever been able to convince me that big beefy dudes like Russell Crowe or post-bulking up Brad Pitt or pretty much any pro athlete are sexy. Despite constant media messages telling me that those men are what women should want, they do nothing for me. It’s like looking at a Harley – I can appreciate the design as iconic but I still find it kind of ugly and I’d never want to own one.

    I find the idea that people can rewire their sexual preferences to fit their political beliefs or ethical standards or whatever deeply creepy, actually.

  96. prairielily
    April 1, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Interestingly enough, I’m the opposite. The guy has to be prettier than me (see, another dealbreaker. Hey, what can I say, I like to look at pretty things).

    L-K, we should be each others wingwomen.

  97. Paul Gowder
    April 1, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Deal-breaker: Vinyl. Not as in kinky clothing. As in record collections. I hate people who are obsessed with record collections. Putting their little liquid on the needle, and racing around to take the record off after it stops before something gets damaged, and *insisting* that it sounds better… vomit.

    Book: oh gosh. I’m rereading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy after about a decade’s hiatus… there’s so much insight in there…

  98. Eldritch Anchovy
    April 1, 2008 at 4:19 am

    I’ll add a dealbreaker that I haven’t seen mentioned already: anyone I date must be happy (happy, not merely “okay”) with me bursting into song with or without any apparent provocation. Actually joining in is a big plus.

  99. April 1, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Attraction is not purely a matter of social conditioning.

    I’m not sure that was ever said. On the other hand, I think it’s very, very rare for attraction to be free of social conditioning.

    Look at me – I’ve liked tall, skinny men with teeny but toned little muscles and long hair and pretty faces my entire life.

    Right, because there’s absolutely no social conditioning to like skinny pretty boys. (It’s not like that preference isn’t expressed by, say, pretty much every straight woman I’ve ever discussed this with.)

    Look, obviously you like who you like, and nobody has the right to demand otherwise, but where does this idea come from that liking conventionally attractive type #2 is bucking the social conditioning to like conventionally attractive type #1? It’s like a guy saying his preference for skinny brunettes over skinny blondes proves he’s free of society’s influence.

  100. Lisa
    April 1, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I am glad someone finally said something about not being able to force attraction. I like tall, skinny, and freckly redheaded boys. And I am African-American. People have gotten really pissed off at me for that. But it just is what it is. I can’t make myself think someone is sexy. I have had endless people, black and white, berate me about it though. I have been told that my preferences are all about self-hate and conditioning by the majority. Maybe so. But I still love the ginger-babes.

  101. rowmyboat
    April 1, 2008 at 11:55 am

    ….so, thinking that, from a feminist perspective that how the patriarchy (which is, after all, comprised of real people and their desires and attractions) only accepts a certain body type or skin and hair color as appropriate for female partners can’t or shouldn’t be changed either?

    Cause what’s good for the goose is good for the gander in this case. Saying that people’s attractions and desires can not or should not be consciously changed also means that when we challenge patriarchal men to think people are acceptable to look at or date even if they aren’t thin, blond, blue-eyed, white skinned with a tan, large breasted, and so forth, the patriarchy, as embodied and acted out by individual men, can turn around and tell us, as several people have here stated, that “well gee, that’s just what I’m attracted to, and there’s nothing to be done about it, so STFU and go starve yourself.”

    Can’t have it both ways.

  102. sardine
    April 1, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    About the the whole “baby” thing: My boyfriend and I call eachother baby, probably me more than him, my best friend and I call eachother baby, and my dad calls me baby. It’s a term of endearment, for us.

    Deal breakers:
    -must be a feminist, or just not know it yet
    -must have a sense of humor
    -can’t be too religious
    -has to have a future (I’m in school, he has to be too)
    -must need sex as much as I do

    Other than that, I can compromise, for the most part. My boyfriend doesn’t read, but we’re young so I’ll give it a bit.

  103. L-K
    April 1, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Can’t have it both ways.

    So, what’s your suggestion then? That I go for the preppy-looking, Republican dude who dislike strong, short chicks, because you’re somewhat suggesting that I, as a feminist, should be an equal opportunity individual due to the fact that I criticize the “beauty standards” of this society? Screw that, if I’m gonna f**k them eventually, I will be highly discriminatory.

    And you’re injecting the stereotypical societal ideal into this conversation (white, blond, blue-eyed), where it is evident by the comments here that the “societal ideal” (tall, dark, handsome man, white, blond blue-eyed woman, what have you) has not been implied here. Jill likes her skinny males in skinny jeans; I like my goth androgynous, eyeliner-wearing, pretty boys; Lisa likes her freckled redhead boys, etc. If you ask me, these are very unconventional, very varying tastes.

    And quite frankly, I don’t care if these men want to go for the thin, blue-eyed, blond white women. I never did; it’s a waste of time. It’s all a filter system in the end for me. They can stay wayyy over there, and who ever wants to chill with a short, queer, curvy, Latina, feminist, goth weightlifter (and etc.), can come wayyy over here.

  104. exholt
    April 1, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Yes, I judge people by their literary choices. Do you list The Da Vinci Code as one of your favorite books on Facebook? Talk about how great Ayn Rand is? Read John Grisham novels somewhere other than on an airplane or the beach? Think that God is super smart for having written the Bible? Even worse, say that you don’t like to read? I’m running in the other direction (especially when it comes to dating you).

    Been pondering this part as this line of thinking has troubled me since the beginning of my college career at a private liberal arts college to the present.

    Knowing how some people are judgmental about literary choices is one reason why I never create a publicly known list of favorite books or music. Why create an opening for the inevitable sarcastic put-downs from the supposedly “more erudite” literature/conservatory majors who usually all come from the upper/upper-middle class or their wannabe hangers-on? It is a reason why I tend to be quite guarded around those who study literature or music.

    Could it not be argued that judging a person on what’s on their bookshelf beyond polemical political works a manifestation of classist prejudice against those with “more plebeian” literary tastes….or those whose opportunity for cultivating “more erudite” tastes impaired due to lack of access to good schools, libraries, and homes/environments which encouraged/supported reading from a young age? The last one is the most important as having parents who are indifferent or hate reading/intellectual learning and/or being around classmates who denigrate reading or other intellectual interests to the point of verbal harassment and physical violence can be a severe impediment, if not a total obstacle towards developing such literary tastes.

    Even with polemical political works, I have known from my own experience and being around other classmates and co-workers that the books on our shelves may reveal more about one’s open-minded desire to explore different ideas/ideologies rather than an accurate barometer of one’s ideology. Heck, if one looks at my own bookshelf of political books, they could have mistaken me for a full-blown Communist even though I have been a vehement opponent since elementary school due to hearing about my family’s experience living under its tyrannical rule and studying it academically.

  105. rowmyboat
    April 1, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Still not addressing the point, which is that feminism demands that men change what they are attracted to, but folks up in here are denying that such change is at all possible.

    And it’s not just about drooling over the example I outlined above. The same could be applied to those who will, for example, only date Asian women, because they are ‘exotic and submissive’ (*barf*), or won’t date someone taller than themselves, et cetera, and chalk it all up to just being what they are attracted to. Feminists call these things bad, because they contribute to things like eating disorders, the third shift, sizism, and so forth, and wish for the men who do such things to not do them. Is this a futile wish and should we just stop trying?

    I sthink some other commenters are purposefully conflating my point, thinking I’m asking them to change their attractions to harmless things for no good reason. Or that I’m suggesting that they change their political, etc. ideologies, or accept things in their life that they’d find harmful (hence the bit about dating preppy Republicans). That’s compatibility, not attraction. You can be attracted to someone, but not compatible with them, and vice versa.

  106. April 1, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    rowmyboat – Note that I never said that the “you like what you like” rule somehow magically does not apply to men. And I didn’t say it because that would be a really stupid argument to make. No one here has made that argment as far as I can see.

    Everyone is subject to some societal influence, obviously, but societal influence on its own doesn’t explain all of people’s preferences. Also, if you’re under the impression that all American men want to date skinny, tanned blonde women then you really need to be expanding your social circle, because that’s just not reality. Certain sections of the media may attempt to make it appear to be reality, but they are incorrect.

    I’m really not convinced that “feminism demands that men change what they are attracted to”. My feminism doesn’t, nor does that of any of my feminist friends. And again, that argument seems to be based on the belief that all men are attracted to the same type of women, which is factually incorrect.

    Also, LK’s type is mine too (skinny pretty boys in eyeliner), and anyone who thinks that’s “societally approved” in the here and now is hallucinating. It’s subculturally approved, which is not quite the same thing.

  107. L-K
    April 1, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Still not addressing the point, which is that feminism demands that men change what they are attracted to, but folks up in here are denying that such change is at all possible.

    Well, as a feminist, I have never demanded a man to change what he is attracted to; that would be stupid. Honestly, I’ll never heard or seen any of the self-identifying feminists that I know do that. However, I have questioned why they are attracted to “so & so.” Let’s use the example you brought up, Asian women, because it’s a popular one among my male friends. The usual answer is, as you stated, “exotic and submissive.” Usually in these conversations, one stereotype is accompanied by another stereotype. One incident was with my cousin a few years back, who told my brother to marry an Asian woman, because primarily of the submissive stereotype, and because “Latinas are all nagging bitches.” His words, stated in front of me. Even as a Latina, I would get shit like “you are probably exotic and passionate, unlike X women.” Has this broad generalization been occurring on this thread? I see ideologies, I see politics, I see tastes, but nothing like this.

    And trust me, the look of a preppy Republican (or a preppy anything) is not something that I would find physically attractive. Preppy…ill…*shivers* Physical attraction is something that’s unique to all. I don’t have an answer or formulation for physical attraction; I don’t think anyone does. For my own physical attraction, what I make of it is that it connects to my “scene” and my habits. However, let’s say that a pretty goth boy I’m eyeing turns out to be a Ron Paul fanatic (which seems to be an unfortunate pattern these days), the fucker is gonna get kicked to the curb with the quickness; fuck the prettiness.

    However, on the issue of “demanding,” again I never demanded that a man change his taste. What I have demanded is that society wakes up and realizes that the definition of “beauty” is infinite, and that the “tall, white, blond, blue eyed” or “tall, dark and handsome” imagery is not one-size-fits-all.

  108. L-K
    April 1, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Also, LK’s type is mine too (skinny pretty boys in eyeliner), and anyone who thinks that’s “societally approved” in the here and now is hallucinating. It’s subculturally approved, which is not quite the same thing.

    Eek! I got competition!

  109. April 1, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    There’s a big difference between questioning and figuring out what kinds of things go into your attractions and your ideas about different kinds of people and trying to force yourself to be attracted to something different. The latter is bound to fail. The first, who knows — could teach you something about yourself, make you re-examine certain things, maybe you’ll stay the same or maybe you’ll change somehow. We’re all changing all the time, and not a whole lot of it is under our direct control. But that doesn’t mean we can’t self-examine and think about how we’ve been influenced by society, our experiences, the particular ways our parents are crazy, a movie we saw when we were teenagers, etc etc etc.

  110. April 1, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    LK – I’m on the West Coast…surely there’s enough room for both of us? And enough pretty goth boys to go around.

  111. April 2, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Knowing how some people are judgmental about literary choices is one reason why I never create a publicly known list of favorite books or music. Why create an opening for the inevitable sarcastic put-downs from the supposedly “more erudite” literature/conservatory majors who usually all come from the upper/upper-middle class or their wannabe hangers-on?

    Why cares about what these other people might think?

    Anyone who googles me will come upon my “snooty honours student” book list that I made a while back on Amazon. I’ve got the 4th Harry Potter book on there and, honestly, I don’t take any criticism of that very seriously.

    I mean, I criticize anyone who thinks that The Da Vinci Code is the best book evAr, and if I can dish it out, I can take it (or ignore it, which is what I most often do).

    Most importantly, I think there’s a difference between judging just anyone on their bookshelf, and judging a potential mate on their bookshelf. I am not going to label a big Dan Brown fan as a “bad” person. Hell, some of my best friends are… well, you know the drill. But when it comes to sharing my life with someone, I need them to not be deathly bored when I offer to read them my favourite passage from “Speak, Memory” or something. Which is why I’m glad that Habib is not (or else he just fakes it really well, har har).

  112. sara
    April 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    It’s funny, because for me a guy being really into food–taking it really seriously, rather than just casually enjoying it–would be a big deal breaker. Other big ones include: Thinking I’m dumb, being skinny, being opposed to therapy, lacking a seriously painful major life experience/loss in your past. Also: religion. My current boyfriend does not share mine, and I love him, but not being able to share that part of my life is a little heartbreaking, so if, heaven forbid, we ever do break up, and I’m looking for someone again, then sharing my religion will be absolutely essential.

  113. Cecil Frankin
    April 4, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Actually, Ayn Rand had some good ideas about personal responsibility and freedom.

    Having said that, a deal-breaker for me would be any woman who claimed Gloria Steinem was a fantastic writer, or that Amanda Marcotte had great insights.

  114. Bloix
    April 9, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    I dated a woman once who lost interest in me because I wasn’t ambitious enough. It had nothing to do with working hard – I do – or making money – I make lots – or status – I’m in a high status profession. It was that I really didn’t have any interest in being or doing anything that was bigger and more important than my own little life. Although I’m a perfectly interesting fellow, well-read, cultured, and out-going, I bored her. So she left, and eventually I married a woman who is content to have a work life and a family life, and for the last decade or two we’ve put most of our emotional energy into raising children.

    Those are the sorts of issues that are the real deal-breakers. Not whether someone likes Chinese food.

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