Monday, March 21, 2011
Emily Yoffe, Slate's advice columnist, delivers a well-deserved and, almost certainly, much-needed slap in the face to a man who confesses that he "married ... a gorgeous younger woman" who isn't "particularly interesting or, and I hate to say this, bright," and yet, wants:
... a middle path that allows me to continue my marriage (the sex is incredible) while not forcing me to give up on having a stimulating partner with whom I can share my interests.She lets this guy have it, and ends her column by urging him to do the honorable thing by letting her go, but not before nicely essentializing the fundamental error of his whole approach to finding (or keeping) a romantic partner:
You married a woman who turned you on but whom you neither respected nor had interest in as a person.Many people seem, thanks to the mind-body dichotomy, to see dating as an either-or proposition between meeting dumb, physically attractive people and smart, unattractive people. That short-changes everyone involved because one, being a complete person, needs a complete person as a partner, and there is no way to just look at someone and know whether that person is suitable.
Had the man above taken more time to get to know his wife, he probably would have moved on. Conversely, had the man spent more time getting to know interesting people than playing pick-up artist, he might have met a soul-mate who didn't look half-bad, or even whose appearance was more than made up for by her other qualities.
Regarding the link to "pickup artist" above, it is just one of several hair-pullingly bad posts and discussions about a kind of approach to dating (if that's even the right word) I have encountered lately at some otherwise perspicacious blogs, which is probably why the Dear Prudie column piqued my interest this morning. I see that whole self-congratulatory, deterministic, and pseudo-scientific approach as a caricature of almost every kind of mistake men (at least) make regarding the process of finding a romantic partner today.
I'm not going to comment on what's wrong with determinism here, nor will I belabor the point that a conclusion in a field (e.g., psychology) that contradicts a truth from a field fundamental to it (e.g., philosophy) indicates that the conclusion (and not the fundamental truth) should be discarded. What I will note is that the ends determine the means, and anyone who sees all their potential partners as robots to be duped with the "right" algorithm will tend to fail to find themselves paired with the kind of human being they need, or, needless to say, in love.