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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dealbreakers

What's the point of having a dealbreaker list that you share with the world?

I'm mulling this question over in my head after my blogroll linked to a post called "Dealbreakers" on Big Think. It was inspired by a post with the same name at Pandagon, which was in turn loosely based on 1) a series of essays at GOOD, and 2) an essay commenting on the dust-up at Gizmodo after one of their editors posted a rather harsh account of her disappointment upon inadvertently hooking up with a Magic: The Gathering champion via OkCupid.

The essays at GOOD are partly about the central factors in the end of relationships. That's not a dealbreaker to me. A dealbreaker, I think, is a relationship preventative. Something you say from the outset: "I will not date someone who is/has/does ________."

A moral dealbreaker, I can see...the sort of thing you believe should be a dealbreaker for everyone, because racists/homophobes/Republicans/Democrats/libertarians/pro-lifers/pro-choicers/whatever deserve no love. But what's the point of declaring to the world that you don't want a man who likes bicycling, has a beard, doesn't like cats, is into sports, and so on? Is society trying to come to some sort of consensus on what the sexes want from each other, and desperately requires your input?

I suppose part of what bugs/amuses/saddens me is the knowledge that in the abstract, questions like "Would you be okay with a man/woman who has/is/does (insert turn-off here) if he/she also has/is/does (insert multiple turn-ons here)?" are incredibly difficult if not impossible to know the answer to. Sure, you might think you know...but when that person actually comes along, you might surprise yourself. You might even find yourself smitten with a Republican!  And what will happen then-- will the world end? I doubt it.

Yeah, it's okay to have preferences. Far be it from me to suggest otherwise, or that these should be set aside lightly.  I'm not even necessarily saying it's wrong to make those preferences into principles and adopt a my-way-or-the-highway attitude about them (which is what constructing a dealbreaker list amounts to, really).  But really, do the geeks/bearded men/bicyclists/Magic players/dog-lovers of the world need to know that you'd rather swallow a bug than date one of their kind? Does such an announcement accomplish anything aside from making the announcer look rather naive, petty, and callous all at once?  I think so. Which is why I can't figure out why it's such a popular thing to do.

*scratches head*

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