What do Crocs, the "crotch grab," and talking in the third person have in common? According to the sagely astute people at Vh1, and arguably most of the female population, they are three qualities that make a man undatable. The special (appropriately named Undatable), aired last week, and hopefully opened some eyes to the irritating things many men do that assure that they will never get laid or a find girlfriend.
While the list was an exaggeration, meant to be humorous, there may be something truthful behind the concept. Many of us have a list of certain traits we look for in a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, as well as a list of deal breaker qualities. They must be tall enough to reach the top shelf, love Adam Sandler movies (or at least tolerate my own obsession), and have perfect teeth (those suffering from periodontitis need not apply). They cannot have an accent, nor can they ever utter a "your mom" joke, and if they fail to hold the door open for the person behind them, their chances at dating are miniscule. Though these qualities may not be numbered or even explicitly verbalized as they are on Vh1, our preferences are always in the back of our minds, dictating our romantic futures.
When we adhere to these qualifications, we dramatically reduce our options in terms of potential partners. I have seen it happen too many times to count. A hopeful gentleman approaches a friend of mine and starts chatting her up. Her eyes widen a bit as she takes in his stature, his complexion, his voice, his...uh oh! We have a problem. She sees that he is wearing a gaudy belt buckle with giant letters that say "Everything's Bigger in Texas," an automatic deal breaker in her book. Her interest wanes, and she desperately makes eye contact with me to save her from this Southern train wreck. Everyone goes home alone. College women seem to be much more selective when it comes to selecting a member of the opposite sex, but men have their own deal-breakers as well. Some will not pursue a red-head, some will not fancy a girl with short hair, and others find themselves uncomfortable around a girl with tattoos.
While it may seem harsh and it may not be completely fair to judge a book by its cover, this is the reality of human nature. According to a Carleton University study, people form their first impressions of you within 1/20th of a second, and, as many business and communication professors would agree, these first impressions are difficult to alter. Of course there are exceptions and I am sure there are many cases of bitter enemies turned best friends, but for the vast majority of relationships, its fate is determined within this miniscule timeframe. Our brains immediately run through our personal checklists of "undatable" traits, and if that guy with the painfully suggestive belt buckle doesn't instantly make the cut, chances are, he never will.
Yet, many of us wonder where all the good guys have gone. We spend weekend after weekend donning our finest party clothes, preening ourselves in the hopes that we may find a potential suitor, or at least a fun distraction from that paper due Monday. More often than not though, we end up in the kitchen with our girlfriends, noshing on pretzels and peanut butter yogurt dip in a futile attempt to prevent the imminent hangover, meanwhile complaining that there were "no cute boys tonight." Our problem is not that there were no eligible bachelors. Our problem is that there are few who could meet our standards.
This does not mean that we should lower our standards to such a degree that we are willing to fall into the arms of anyone so long as they have all appendages in tact. At the same time, if we are not willing to shift our perspectives a little, we may end up waiting forever for our perfect mate, our fairytale ending (we could end up like this girl, pictured below, all alone, only her woodland friends to keep her company while she tearfully waits for her prince to come). Terrible and mildly offensive exaggerations aside, maybe we simply need to look beyond the first impression in order to uncover a hidden gem. This is easier said than done; the impressions we form are not only instantaneous, but also largely unconscious. However, with some practice paired with the sheer drive to find happiness in a relationship, we can adjust our attitudes concerning men and women with certain flaws that would ordinarily deem them undatable.
Instead of seeing these fashion faux pas or annoying habits or questionable hairstyle choices as flaws, we should try to view them as charming. Sure, his laugh resembles that of a wheezing cat, but it's kind of cute once you get used to it. Maybe she constantly recites quotes from The Little Rascals to the point where she both infuriates and confuses everybody around her, but this is what makes her unique (well, as unique as she can be quoting somebody else's dialogue). If we can change our thinking such that instead of automatically dismissing a member of the opposite sex simply because of one less than ideal quality, we choose to find these characteristics as simply part of their charm, we may find that the guy with the heinous belt buckle isn't so bad after all.