Types, Taste and My Continued Search for Something TORRID

online datingIf you thought I was done talking about types you’re wrong: I’m not.  I’ve been reading your comments and your questions (even the uncomfortable ones that make me squirm) and in honor of My Single Male Friend Friday, I have compiled the following:

Part 1: A Brief Recap of Your Comments and Questions Pertaining to my (M)anthropology

Q: If all men are ‘types,’ how can you make this work for you?

A; Hmmm… well I guess I need to figure out which “type” I’m supposed to be with and steer clear of the rest?

Q: Maybe you should ask yourself which qualities/habits/ticks can you live with?

A: Maybe I should.  But I have no idea.  I mean, I wouldn’t be asking for perfection if I myself wasn’t, you know…

Q: Which qualities are “moldable?”

A: This is easy: bad taste in clothing, dislike of Indian food and the inability to use chopsticks properly.  I can definitely train a man to use chopsticks, and I’ve introduced many a former boyfriend to the brilliance of the boxer brief.  I’m not afraid to do so again.

Q: How can you each help the other learn to appreciate or embrace the each other’s likes/dislikes?

A: Ugh.  You mean I’ve got to grow?  And help someone else grow?  Compromise isn’t really my thing (which is probably why I’m still single).

And now:

Part II: A Revelation

I should confess that I’ve been corresponding with an equally high-spirited friend of mine on the subject of relationships and romantic entanglements for the past thirteen years (so yeah, just in case you were wondering, I’ve always been this way).  Two teenaged Darcy-fans can get into quite a lot of trouble in thirteen years, especially when they continue obsessing over their relationships as adults.

(You think my blog is bad?  You should see our emails.)

We’ve come up with a lot of dumb ideas over the years and although the majority of these are entirely too embarrassing and nonsensical to post on the internet, the most recent has proven surprisingly relevant to today’s post.

A year ago, we both decided to swear off boring-but-nice men.  We wanted to have love affairs, and torrid ones at that.  Lukewarm feelings were deemed “not torrid enough” and boring-but-nice guys were cast aside.

Then, the inevitable happened: we both found ourselves getting tired of torrid.  The not-boring got boring and she’s now happily dating a very nice man she’s been friends with for years.

Where does this leave me?  Happy for her and hopeful for myself— if a bit disappointed.  (I like drama!)  My 50th Date has asked me to join him for a trip to Valley Forge this weekend and although I’m not sure I’ll manage to find the time between all of the dance recitals, I’m already skeptical.  I never get very far with “nice” guys.

Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that I don’t give nice guys much credit.  I jump to conclusions and with every single last one of them, my initial reaction has been one of disappointment.  No spark.  No chemistry, and I’m never intrigued enough to give that spark the chance to develop.

But that’s only half of the picture.  The other half is this: I’m afraid.  My last few break ups have gone rather badly (although it now strikes me that a bad break up is about as unique as a bad car accident).  Whereas the Impressionists simply slink off into the night, the others (especially the Pre-Raphaelites) always make a scene.  And I hate scenes.

I also hate knowing that I might end up hurting someone, simply by virtue of breaking up with them.

I’d rather keep right on dating Impressionists (they’ll get over it), Surrealists (they’ll definitely get over it) or Pre-Raphaelites (they’ll swear they’ll never get over it but they will) than risk hurting a boring-but-nice guy while I wait around to see what lies beneath his seemingly lackluster facade.  Why?  Well, because feelings might get involved in the interim.  Someone might get hurt.

(How f*ckd up is that?)

I’ve gotta say I didn’t see this particular freight train of an epiphany coming.  So help me out here: can sparks develop over time?  Should I give up on the idea of a passionate affair and settle for something a bit more, you know: normal?  Or should I give the “normal” the chance to transform into something passionate?

21 Responses to “Types, Taste and My Continued Search for Something TORRID”

  1. Nicole

    Hmm. Thats a lot of questions to try to answer. I think that if you don’t see any “normal” guy who has potential to grow into something passionate, then keep an eye for that passionate affair. I think sparks can develop over time, but in my experience its usually been between good friends (i.e. girl and guy who have lots in common and like spending time with each other). Also, the best piece of advice I ever got from another female, is “when you stop looking for love, the men will be able to ‘read’ that and then the right guy will come into play”. Kind of reminds me of the Civilian. You were busy doing your thing in the cafe and he popped in. Not saying he’s the right one or anything, but just an example of this theory.

  2. mairedubhtx

    I hoped sparks would develop with my second husband, who adored an illusion of me. He was a nice, boring guy to whom I was not much attracted. Didn’t happen. Instead life got more and more boring and he became like a father-figure. Not good. I would look for sparks.

  3. Amanda

    Dating is way too much effort to go through it without sparks. But it sounds like you are looking for something more like a lightning bolt. [BTW, I just started reading your blog and have caught up on all of your dating adventures! I’m in Lexington, KY (just north of Berea!) dealing with online dating myself and have really enjoyed reading.]

  4. Debbie

    I’m with you… I like the interesting, bad boy (usually with an accent) exciting kind of man. Maybe it’s because when there is a break up (and there always is) you get to look back and say “well…that was interesting and at least I had some fun!”

    I guess my question is, is there a happy meduim? A nice stable guy, who likes a bit of adventure, and still wants to cook me a fabulous meal at the end of the day? I know he is out there!

    As I look around at all of my friends who are recently married, they all gave up their bad boys and settled for the nice guy. They are happy! They are settled! I sigh and say “he is SUCH a good guy! You are really lucky.”. And then I plan my next trip to somewhere interesting in the world…where there are more men with accents… There could be a nice man there…

  5. aka gringita

    Disclaimer: NO ONE should take relationship advice from me.

    I think sparks can develop… within a friendship. It goes like this: Be friends – without expectations – simply enjoying each other’s company… then unexpectedly look up one day and WHAM: sparks. (Your friend with the nice guy? They were friends first, you said! See?)

    If you’re *dating* someone and there’s no sparks, that’s harder. There’s more pressure to feel something, and feel it sooner than later. Not to mention mixed expectations, when one person feels it and the other doesn’t.

    That said? When we are fearful and actively guarding our hearts against hurting or getting hurt, we diminish our ability to feel sparks. Keeping things cool and standoffish undermines chemistry. Even reagents that *would* react under other circumstances won’t in a cool environment (Thank you, high school chemistry class; all that time stirring stuff over the bunsen burners turns out not to have been a TOTAL waste of time after all!)

    Plus “drama” creates false sparks, and that sounds like what you’re mostly used to. Stop looking for that, and you might find the real thing.
    Meh. What do I know? Hang in there, and give the nice guy a chance.

  6. Lincoln

    A granite bench that’s been haunting me — first at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and now at the Art Institute Chicago, by Jenny Holzer:

    “You should limit the number of times you act against your nature, like sleeping with people you hate. It’s interesting to test your capabilities for a while but too much will cause damage”

    I don’t know why that came to mind, but anyway… life without hurt is a life without risks and a life without risks is rarely a life worth living. So someone gets hurt — as long as you aren’t vindictive or psychotic about it life will move on for both people. In my adventures in dating I’ve been on both sides of the “yeah, we really aren’t that great a fit, are we? Well, good luck!” expression.

    After our first date, I wasn’t sure about the woman I’m dating now , but I was open and took (take?) things as they came (come?). was open, and the more time we spend together the better it feels.

    Embrace rejection.

  7. Katie

    Kat, if anyone could answer that question, there’d be no need for dating blogs. 😉

    I will tell you this, though – after a long enough time together, even torrid will likely morph to something luke warm and predictable over time. That’s just what happens when you really find that you know someone, inside and out. In the end, most women “settle” for the nice guys because at least — if it’s going to turn out “boring” anyway — they’ll always know how he feels. They’ll know he’s still into her and not the drama.

    Make sense?

  8. amanda

    i’ve always had a thing for the quintessential “bad boy” (preferably with tattoos). and i went through a number of them, some who were wonderful, caring guys on the inside, some who, well, weren’t. then i got sick of all the drama they (well, i) caused, and with little else to do, agreed to a date with a guy who was sorta kinda cute, but was more of a nerd. i figured maybe we’d go out a couple of times and then i’d be like, hey, it was a nice break, but i’m ready for my next drama-causing bad boy now.

    that was almost five years ago, and we’re buying a house together next year. my point would be, don’t give up on mr. 50th date just yet. i wouldn’t say there were necessarily any “sparks” between my BF and i when we first started dating, but about four months into our relationship, i started thinking about what it would be like to break up with him. and i figured out that it would hurt ME just as much as him if i were to break it off because i actually cared about him. a lot. like a lot a lot. like i loved him. and surprisingly, that’s when i stopped freaking out about it and stopped looking for the sparks.

    a question: is he a nerd, in any sort of way? because if he is, definitely stick around a while longer. even if you decide not to see him any more, he will make a GREAT friend.

  9. Jill

    No one should take advice from me either, because the very good thing I have was all due to his persistence. But there is another option, the “stand-up” guy (I think this counts as boring/normal?) with the bad boy past. He still has the capacity for spontaneity and mischief and unpredictability, but none of it involves screwing around, lying to me about anything other than a surprise gift, or hiding illegitimate children for a decade. Almost 20 years, three kids and an aging in-law into this, I give thanks for a day without drama. Believe me there’s plenty of excitement in this kind of life, but none of it would show up on Dr Phil. (stepping down off soapbox)
    I have no experience with the development of sparks, though. There were firecrackers there before I at least was willing to acknowledge it. My sister, though, dated her now-husband for three years after being friends with him for the same, including an episode when he was the third roommate in an apartment with her & one of those exciting men. That could be on Dr Phil. Just sayin.
    But also, thanks for starting the conversation. Obviously, aside from just liking to read what you write, I like to think about the things you’re thinking about, which resonate for me not just as someone who lived through the dating and is glad to be on the other side, but as the parent of a teen daughter.

  10. Lauren

    When I was still somewhat fresh from the fray of a horrendous breakup, and decided to embark on what I termed “recreational dating” (lighthearted dating for fun and to meet people and learn more about myself, not for comfort and certainly not for another relationship) I expressed concern to a friend of mine. After 2 months of it a guy wanted me to settle down and I’d been keeping him at a distance.

    I told my friend I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to keep from becoming non-committal in the process. She gave me a reassuring answer: “you dot need to worry; just keep being yourself, learn all you can, and when the right guy comes along, he’ll stop you in your tracks.”

    And she was right. (incidentally, does the new date hail from VFMC? Or just want to take you to the town of VF?)

  11. Lauren

    And by the way, my instincts were right about the arm’s distance guy– we weren’t a good match. He wasn’t my typical bad boy type, but he was my other typical, the guy who needs “rescuing” (from habits leading to “bad boy” status, of course).

    A little over a month after that I began to notice a spark developing between me and a nice guy another friend had previously deemed “too much Darcy, not enough Willoughby” for her taste.

    We began dating not long afterward, and now we’re married. Definitely started as friends, but that spark came in quickly and it was overpowering. Hope that helps!

    • Lauren

      *ahem…Wickham, not Willoughby. Looks like I have an excuse for a p&p re-read! (and maybe s&s while I’m name-dropping from it)

  12. Grey Goose, Dirty

    Hey Kat, great post (as usual). I am of the belief that ‘sparks’ or chemistry do not develop over time. They’re either there from the get go, or they aren’t. I realize I may be in the minority on this, but I pretty much have the same mindset as you regarding ‘nice’ guys. I don’t need fireworks (althought they would be nice), but I do need a spark. From the start.

    • Zak

      I second this. I’ve had some really great friendships with attractive girls that I considered dating/tried dating, but I don’t think any have turned into anything.

      On the other hand, many friendships had sparks, but due to one or the other person already in a relationship, that friendship didn’t go anywhere.

      I would like to think sparks/chemistry can grow, but you need something initially there. You will sooner or later me an as yet under-defined nice guy type and he will wow you. We’re out there.

  13. Friend dating Nice Man

    I remember the Torrid Pact…

    More like, I remember how much harm the said ‘torridness’ caused when it turned out it wasn’t actual present in our ‘relationship’, just in my mind. He couldn’t care less, if he cared at all.

    Like the commenters above note, it’s easy, so easy to get addicted to drama (especially if you have literary/artsy inclinations). I admit I sometimes wonder where the highs and lows went and even kind of miss that; but then Nice Man calls me at 6 AM his time just to tell me I am beautiful and that he misses me…

    You know as well as me how surprised I am by the whole situation: it never entered my head that I would date a guy I like, admire and respect, who I can goof around with and have serious conversations with, someone I have counted on and cried to and laughed with over years. That would have been too simple! That would not have been drama-worthy! How would I ever become a real author if I were actually, well, happy? 😉

    The right man will come when you are so busy that you don’t even notice him first. He will be passionate, but passion also means fun and kindness and laughter, and not misery!

    Let’s write a new pact – or better yet, just go out and live 🙂

  14. Carl

    As someone who have been searching for love for quite a few years, I have learned several things. The most important one is that “looking for it”, as it were, is usually counter-productive. I meet women, and I am either attracted to them, or I am not attracted to them, and I have almost no control over that. That “spark” that you speak of, the Jane Austen style passionate and intense romance, that is only one small part of a relationship, and it usually occurs near the beginning. Loving someone, day in an day out, spending and sharing you life with them, that is a very different sort of feeling. It is still a plesant one, just a different one. You have talked about a type of guy who is “boring but nice”. Not all nice guys are boring. I am a very nice guy, and I have been called many things, but boring is certainly not one of them.

  15. Kate Ferguson Writes

    I wonder how kind, thoughtful women who are considerate and committed in a relationship would react to being called “nice but boring” in a blog written by a male author. Although I can see what you mean, I think that tarring somebody as nice-but-boring can equally be a failure in your own perception. In general, nobody is boring. Some are more passionate, self-absorbed, dramatic than others but those steady ones are spurred on by a regular, considerate, (and arguably quite fascinating) clockwork which is only ‘boring’ because it’s unconditional. I guarantee, a nice-but-boring guy that suddenly dumps you out of the blue will become instantly more attractive. What does that tell you anout the stability of the “nice-but-boring” definition? Also, Jane Austen ends her books on the wedding day so any kind of expectations of happy marriages with exciting boys is entirely speculative.

  16. Landlord

    I agree w/ Kate:
    “I wonder how kind, thoughtful women who are considerate and committed in a relationship would react to being called “nice but boring” in a blog written by a male author. Although I can see what you mean, I think that tarring somebody as nice-but-boring can equally be a failure in your own perception.”

    just sayin…

    Glad you are going out with him again today and I hope he has a sense of humor and can read between your lines.

  17. Cookie

    Dear beautiful girl,
    I played your game for a while, and quite frankly it sucked and so did I. I think I dated all of your types and then some (you know, like the druggies and religious fanatics). The magic solution that I found was a guy that had a full life aside from me, made me laugh, and was able to deal with my bullshit. He has other stuff to do so he’s not constantly dependent on me. It’s hard to be bored when you’re laughing, and if I go off and accuse him of not caring about me or some other melodramatic thing, he calmly talks it through with me and promises to do better in the future. Three years and counting, and when we go out, I almost always know we’re having more fun than anyone else in the room.
    Being bored still makes my skin crawl in all walks of life.

    If I had to analyze it, I’d say you’re making the opposite mistake you think you’re making. Stop looking for a forever-mate and find someone you like hanging out with. This stuff comes from the most unexpected places.
    Oh yeah, and don’t settle. If someone bores you the first date, they’re going to bore you the second date, and pretty soon you’re just in it for the free drinks.


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