Hello and welcome to Relationship Rules with Dr. Rodman. You can consider me your friendly neighborhood psychologist. I like helping people with their love lives, watching reality TV, and cooking things that my toddlers refuse to eat. I was raised in Brooklyn New York and now I’m in private practice outside Washington DC. Now, you’re thinking, “I read enough biographical crap like this on the tons of dating sites I belong to. I thought I was clicking on something that was going to tell me why everyone I meet is terrible. And why it appears I am going to die alone, despite being extremely intelligent, successful, attractive, and modest.” See, I told you I was a psychologist. I totally got into your head there. So let’s tackle your questions, and fix up your depressing excuse for a love life, all in this one column.
Okay, despite being deceptively young looking (cue someone saying, “There is no way you gave birth to three kids in the last four years!”), I am actually an experienced ex-dater. I dated serially, nay, compulsively, from about age 15 to age 25. This is a decade of dating experience before I met my husband. Additionally, I am a trained psychologist and couples counselor. So you are in good hands here when I say I understand where you’re coming from. And, without further ado, here is where you’re coming from:
Every Friday and Saturday night, you go to parties or bars all dressed up and looking pretty good. You go with a pack of friends, all of whom also look pretty good. You have a good job, or you’re in school, and you’re pretty funny, and also a good person (ask your mom, your friends, or your cat). But yet your hopes that you will encounter a similarly well adjusted, attractive, personable individual continually fail to come to fruition. For example, there was the girl who was totally psycho and wanted you to meet her parents when you’d only hooked up twice. The guy who was really into collecting toy cars. The girl who was obsessed with her hair extensions and kept telling you how much they cost. The guy who really thought his band was going to make it big even though they sucked when you heard them play. The girl who found your address online and showed up in a bear suit with a machete.
I am here to tell you, all of these people who suck may NOT ACTUALLY SUCK (except the last one, stay the hell away from that person). Here are some reasons that you may misguidedly think they do.
1. They are insecure
(You know this feeling well too, I’m sure, despite being as awesome as we have earlier discussed.) So they start on some weird story, hoping to grab your interest, and then it is kind of too awkward to just stop talking, so they keep going, and going, and it’s like the answering machine scene in Swingers.
2. Your interests are different
They just have different interests or needs than you and your friends, which may not be all bad when you get to know them. Toy cars? Why not. At least it’s not a meth habit. Different is different, different is not BAD.
3. They are true to themselves
They are genuinely trying to connect, without an ironic pose to hide behind. Maybe the girl who wanted you to meet her parents was really just that into you. You’re going to appreciate someone enthusiastic and warm when you want to get married and have kids. Then this is the woman who will spend her time playing with her children rather than just shopping at Nordstrom. And, in a much more relevant side note for men, imagine how warm and enthusiastic she will be in bed.
4. You might have to look in the mirror
You yourself may suck! You? No way. Remember what your mom and the cat think? However, think about how judgmental you can be, especially in a large group of friends. What percentage of the time is spent discussing the stupidity or overall annoyingness of other people? What percentage is spent highlighting the positives? When I was single I would give these a 90% and 5% respectively, with the other 5% of conversation time being reserved for funny stories about how drunk you got last weekend.
Your tendency to judge others mercilessly is not going to help you connect with a prospective soulmate. Either you’ll too-quickly decide they don’t meet your exacting specifications and miss out on a really great person, or they may be turned off themselves by your negative attitude. Spoiler alert: At some point, most of your friends are going to decide to radically change their standards. I saw this myself and was shocked when girl after girl went for guys that I thought we would “never” go for, whether they were bland, bald, not the funniest guy in the room, or didn’t have the best job. Yet these guys were quality people. Now, many of these women are happily married, and friends who were too picky are still unhappily single.
You may be just as insecure as everyone else.
You may be just as insecure as everyone else. When you walk into a crowded party, it’s easier to say “The guys here suck” or “The girls here are ugly” than to risk open rejection by trying to start up a conversation. Putting yourself out there emotionally is the hardest thing to do in life, but with great risk comes great reward, or at least the possibility of meeting someone interesting rather than just having another night of getting wasted and complaining.
There you have it, folks. I hope you enjoyed my first column for Patti Knows. Tune in next week for more dating rules of the road from your new favorite psychologist! Email me your questions about women, men, dating, sex, relationships, why you still sleep with your ex-boyfriend even though you know it’s bad for you (I see into your soul), or really, anything.