Greetings from a longtime reader, first-time writer. Thank you for all you’ve written and done over the years, which has done wonders for my confidence. I’m 29, with no real relationship experience to speak of, but I’ve finally started a real dating life. That said, I’m still figuring out what I want in a partner, and I was wondering if you could speak to one aspect that’s been bothering me.
This weekend, I went on a pre-date at a coffeehouse with a girl I met online – let’s call her “Maxine.” I enjoyed our initial texts; she was genuinely interested in my profile and seemed bright and kind. Our talk over coffee was pleasant, and though we enjoyed sharing pictures of our dogs, there was no spark. At one point I mentioned that I don’t watch much TV these days, at which point she asked “So as a millennial, what do you do for your entertainment life if you don’t binge-watch Netflix?”
We kept the conversation up for almost an hour after my confession, but I knew that date had reached a dead-end. I don’t think the question was a joke; Maxine implied that she watches Netflix plenty. For starters, I did not appreciate being stereotyped (by someone of my own generation, nonetheless), nor do I feel obligated to structure my entertainment choices around a Silicon Valley giant. More to the point, her question reflects a concerning trend I’ve observed in online dating profiles: so many of them are dull carbon copies of the stereotypical millennial. Perhaps even the entitled millennial. On Coffee Meets Bagel, for instance, the most common entries I see in the “I like” section are probably: food, travel, and yes, binge-watching Netflix.
I like good food as much as anyone but we need food to survive, so to name it as your favorite thing is redundant. Most of us only have time to travel a couple times a year if that, and there may be plenty of great stuff on Netflix / Hulu / Amazon but most of it just doesn’t interest me now. The answers to my date’s above question are instead: I photograph stuff with a DSLR, play video games, read literature, and go to the symphony. Naturally, I’m looking for someone who can appreciate and respect those activities. They don’t need to pursue those same activities themselves – that would be boring – but I definitely lean towards the intellectual type. Not an arrogant overachiever, just someone smart and passionate about her own intellectual or artistic pursuits. Those troves of profiles – with no interests beyond food, once-a-year travel, and streaming – are not an encouraging sign. Even Maxine, who is clearly intelligent and put care into her profile, turned out to be a disappointment.
My question is: have I set my standards too high, and am I in fact searching for a girl to fit an impossible template rather than just accepting people as they are? If so, how can I recast my ideas about what I want in a date, and if not, is it rude to be more direct? For example, one of my closest friends (“Carly”) explicitly stated in her old profile that she would only date men with a Master’s degree or equivalent levels of education, or higher. This was not a hard rule, but a way to increase the odds of connecting with someone smart. She met her husband online and they now have a beautiful 8-month-old. Like her, I now want to tread the thin line that separates the snobs from, well, people who think my interests are unsexy or don’t care. I just don’t want to come off as a snob myself while doing so, because that seems to be a weakness of mine. For reference, when I was crafting my own CMB profile, I considered writing that I would appreciate if my date could hold a conversation without abusing “like” as a filler word. Carly was sympathetic but dissuaded me.
I have several friends with similarly arcane interests who have had trouble forming relationships, and so I think any advice you can offer would benefit them as well. Looking forward to hearing back!
– Born in the Wrong Century