Dear Quirkyalone: Am I Too Picky?

“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a weekly guest column by the authors of the brilliant blog Onely. It appears every Monday. When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.

Dear Quirkyalone: Are single people over a certain age too picky? Is that so wrong? – Special K

Dear Special K,

Here’s my short answer: No, and No.

But to be more specific:

First, I’d like to consider the phrase “too picky.” The way I see it, being “picky” is not in and of itself a “bad” thing, though our culture often seems to say so. Let’s say we’re talking about food: If you order the specialty burger at your favorite restaurant that comes loaded with toppings – in this case bacon, blue cheese, arugula, avocado, and mushrooms – but the taste and texture of mushrooms make you want to puke, it’s pretty reasonable to ask for the burger without the mushrooms. If you are too shy, uncertain, or simply unaware to articulate this taste, you’ll likely leave the restaurant dissatisfied and/or hungry. In that sense, then, I would call awareness of your distaste a positive “pickiness.” In the same way, if you know that you don’t ever want to have kids, but you meet someone who is attractive in many senses but wants to have eight children with his future partner, then it makes sense to steer clear before the meal comes – that is, before you learn the hard way that no matter how much you love him, you just can’t eat those mushrooms.

If, however, your imagined (as opposed to proven) sense of (dis)taste keeps you from being open to new or different culinary experiences – let’s say that you’ve never had sushi before and refuse to try it, or let’s say that you had tofu once at a hospital cafeteria and you didn’t like it then but now have the chance to try it again in a five-star restaurant and you refuse, even though your dining companions say it’s the best dish they’ve ever had – I would say that you may be “too picky.” In much the same way, I suppose that, yes, it is possible to be “too picky” when it comes to potential mates. If you meet a plumber but refuse to date her simply on the basis that you’ve never dated a plumber before (or because you assume every plumber is blithely unaware of his or her buttcrack showing), then you might be missing out on a world of new experiences and perspectives to which you would otherwise not have exposure (not to mention never learning the answer to the question: where do all those pipes lead?). Or, let’s say that, several years ago, you had an office romance that turned terribly sour – an experience that prompted you to write off all future office romances. Since then, however, you find that you have formed a deep connection with another office mate who is clearly a better match, and you find you have strong romantic feelings for him. In cases like these, it doesn’t always make sense to dogmatically stick to those hard-and-fast rules that we make to protect ourselves. In certain circumstances – especially if we proceed with a cautious optimism and honesty about the past – the tofu may, in fact, be worth trying again.

No matter how picky you are, as a Quirkyalone, the most important thing is that you’re comfortable with, and honest about, your likes and dislikes. If you truly hate dogs, it’s not fair to yourself or your potential partner to date a dog-owner. If you need someone to call you every night before you go to bed, then it makes no sense to date a bartender who works the night shift. Sometimes our friends and family may make us feel bad for those things we consider to be “dealbreakers,” but ultimately, this is your life, and you really shouldn’t settle. Do what makes you happy, but be honest about it.

You mention something about age above, but I’m really not sure what age has to do with it. If anything, people “over a certain age” (whatever that means) have more life experience and, thus, more awareness of what they can and can’t live with, as well as what does or doesn’t make them happy. To me, that doesn’t seem “wrong” at all.

– Lisa

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About

Onely is a blog that deconstructs stereotypes of singlehood. It's for singles who enjoy being single but remain open to a variety of romantic relationships, either for themselves or for others. Onely comprises two people: Lisa and Christina. Christina has an MA in English and an MFA in creative writing, but she still struggles with her participles and a tendency toward semicolon abuse. She has bravely persevered against these obstacles in her work as one-half of the Onely writing team. For most of her thirty-odd years she has been Quirkyalone, but she also has experience as a Quirkytogether, a Lonelyalone, and--most terrifying--a Lonelytogether. Currently she is contentedly single, balancing a left-brained day job that feeds her cat with right-brained writing projects that feed her soul. In Dear Quirkyalone, she hopes to share her lessons learned with other readers who want to understand and embrace Quirkyliving. The secret? Always listen to Lisa. Lisa has an MFA in creative writing and is about halfway through a doctoral program in Rhetoric and Composition. She loves writing about singles issues on Onely because it gives her a break from what she writes in “real life,” and she loves giving advice on QA because – as most academics do – she thinks she’s always right. Lisa owns a dog named Kitty, loves Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, and undertakes long road/camping trips as often as possible. She apologizes in advance for her language taking “academic” (not to be confused with “epic”) proportions, and advises readers first and foremost to always heed Christina’s advice.

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Posted in Dating, Single Life
2 comments on “Dear Quirkyalone: Am I Too Picky?
  1. Perfect answer! You really nailed it.

    I think a certain level of “pickiness” is what being a Quirkyalone is all about. That’s what it means to not settle. I prefer the term “selective” myself, though, because it sounds less pejorative. How selective you are depends on how content you are to be single, how willing you are to wait for a good match, and what you really need in a partner to be happy. As far as the third factor goes, if you really NEED a lot of different things in a partner to be happy, or if the things you need are hard to find, you’re going to seem more selective.

  2. S says:

    The stupidity of this article is enhanced only by the fact that Lisa chooses to date for the sake of dating. Dating should be strategic – “Is this person a good fit with my personality?”; “Will this person’s fit into my family? Will I fit into his/her family?”

    Read “The paradox of choice”…More isn’t necessarily “better”…Dating a lot doesn’t necessarily produce the best case outcome.

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