Periscope Depth

you can occupy my every sigh

(Part five of my continuing series on dating. Part four: on whether or not online dating is worth it)

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of keeping busy. Why you need to expand your social network. Why you need to keep from brooding over failures. Doing these things increases the odds of finding a good relationship – finding someone who makes you laugh, turns you on, supports you when you need it and whom you enjoy supporting, too.

Perhaps most importantly, though, it keeps you from falling for The One.

The One is that girl who’s just perfect. Just the right body type, just the right face, just the right smile. She laughs in a way that cuts through a crowded room. Everything she says hits the mark. You find yourself either staring at the side of her face, hoping for a glance, or avoiding her altogether for fear that she’ll see right through you.

You can admit it. It’s happened to you. Hell, it’s happened to me.

There’s nothing wrong with crushing on someone. There’s nothing wrong with being tired, or catching a cold, or sweating during a workout, either. It’s biological. Telling you that your natural physiological reactions are “wrong” or “silly” won’t stop you from having them. So own up to what you’re feeling. Admit that you’re helpless for this girl whom you barely know.

Admitting it’s not the problem.

The problem is when you start obsessing over her. You fantasize. You create scenarios: the two of you working on a project after school. Checking into a hotel after that work conference. Sharing a taxi ride home after the big game. You have these complex conversations in your head where everything works out and you make her laugh. Of course, when you actually see her in person, you never say a word.

Most of the garbage I see on dating or PUA websites come as responses to readers e-mailing in. And the e-mails always begin the same way, “There’s this girl who …” After a few lines touting her virtues, there come the qualifiers. She has a boyfriend (who’s no good for her). We work together (and I’m afraid it’d be awkward). I never get to talk to her (but that hasn’t stopped me from becoming infatuated).

One question with infinite variations. “There’s this girl who …”

In response to this one question comes the most poisonous bullshit ever to erupt from a human mind. Careful, bro, she’s putting you in the Friend Zone! She’s using you for emotional comfort while her boyfriend gets her off! She’s a tease; she’s leading you on. Step up your game, neg her, put on your alpha male routine, etc.

All of these suggestions diagnose the symptoms (dude not getting laid) rather than the cause (dude wanting a woman he barely knows). Because crushes are invariably mysterious. It’s the glamorous stranger we lock eyes with across the bar, not our high school chum. Why? Because, while in a sensitive mental state, we catch a glimpse of something perfect. Then we break contact, so as not to spoil the illusion of perfection, and fill in the blanks with our imagination.

A crush is 1% quality and 99% imagination. It’s fiction. The truth? That bedroom-eyed blonde has three things to talk about, and two of them are shows you don’t watch.

If you haven’t asked this woman out yet, you’re not going to. The fact that you’re asking people for advice, and making excuses as to why you can’t, proves it. Your attraction to this woman exceeds your confidence in your own merits.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Like I said, it happens to everyone. It only becomes a problem when you keep obsessing over it. Obsessing over one woman, as if she’s going to be the solution to every other problem in your life, will only lead to bad decisions.

When you start to believe that your crush is The One, then you start to construct excuses for why you and she are meant to be together. This is where trouble starts. If it’s so obvious to you that the universe means for the two of you to be an item, then why isn’t it obvious to her? Why hasn’t she seen all these signs that you’ve picked up on? You probably have a notebook full of reasons why you two would be great together (“we like the same movies; I’m so emotionally supportive of her; all her friends like me”). But if those are all sufficient reasons for you two to enter a relationship, why hasn’t she noticed them yet?

When a guy decides that he is fated to be with a girl, he rarely consults with the girl first.

The problem with obsessing over a crush is the same type of problem that most guys have with dating: they don’t consider what the woman wants. If she were interested in you, you’d see a sign. If you’re not sure whether she’s interested, ask, or make a move of your own (more on that later). But don’t decide the end and then fret over the means.

If having a crush leads you to making poor life choices, what’s the cure? Simple: go on ten dates with other women.

They don’t need to be ten different women (though that’d be a feat). It can be ten dates with five different women. It can be ten dates with the same woman (though at that point, you’re probably in a relationship). The trick is that they have to be dates, and that they have to be with women other than the object of your crush.

This isn’t to make your crush jealous. This isn’t to practice your art of seduction so you can take another stab at wooing her. This is to cure you. This is to get your mind off of her. The only reason you’re so obsessed over this one perfect girl is because you’ve forgotten what else is out there. So get back on the market.

(Afterword: people who are in happy long-term relationships might arch their eyebrows at my assertion that The One is a myth. But you wouldn’t be in a happy long-term relationship if you weren’t good at listening to your partner’s needs. That’s way different from crushing on someone. A crush is an obsession. Obsession leads to expectation. Expectation leads to entitlement. Entitlement turns into disappointment. Disappointment becomes anger. Anger leads to trolling seduction websites and drinking alone)

(Part Six: on the myth of the Friend Zone)

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