FROM THE DESK OF: Nina
This week, I’m about to go somewhere I may deeply regret later (given the audience of this blog – lookin’ at you, Dear Family.).
I’m going to talk about dating.
(Aaaaaand here is the point where I open myself up to the possibility of endless ridicule and nosy, uncomfortable questions. What am I getting myself into…)
Anyone who has talked to me in the past few days knows I am currently undergoing what I call a ‘social renaissance.’ Last year, I was, for the most part, perfectly content hiding in my cave from all social situations and meeting new people; however, in the past month, something in the air has got me feeling like I want to talk to everybody, everywhere, all the time. (Well, maybe not all the time. But a lot of the time.)
As part of this renaissance, I’ve also re-downloaded some dating apps to practice my social skills and get out of my comfort zone a little bit. And boy, is it getting me out of my comfort zone.
My experience so far wavers between bouts of ego boosts and doubts about humanity and the future of social interaction. Sometimes, I come out lucky with a newfound confidence in myself and maybe a new friend; other times, however, I am simply dumbfounded by the fantastically horrible questions I am asked in the pursuance of a possible date.
Here are some of my favorites.
#1: “Which one are you?”
So, a little backstory to this one: when making online dating profiles, I tend to include group photos of myself to see if someone can deduce which person in each photo is the recurring subject (i.e. me). It blows my mind when someone has chosen to connect, yet cannot after three guesses figure out who I am. It blows my mind even more when that person still tries to carry on a conversation. Next time this happens I’m just going to tell them I’m not pictured at all and then leave it at that.
#2: *Sequence of Seemingly Innocent Emojis Turned Inappropriate*
So, this isn’t a question, but apparently it’s supposed to start a conversation. (Btw, special thanks to those people who ruined the “point-OK” emojis for me. I am forever traumatized. Jeez.) Usually, I panic when this happens and then send a random emoji, like the kabuki mask one. Or I just don’t respond, which is probably a smarter choice. Is this actually an effective move for people? I mean, I’m sure it works sometimes… but what is the average “conversion rate”, so to speak, of this tactic? Someone please send me a report or some metrics on this because I am genuinely curious.
#3: “Are you Filipino?”
This one. This is the one that reeeeaaalllyyy gets under my skin. And I think it’s because, more often than not, it stems from a perspective that exoticizes my ethnic background and usually brings along with it a set of confining, ignorant assumptions about Filipino culture that I am just simply not here for. What’s worse is, if it’s coming from another Filipino, I still hate it – it’s still coming from that same place of confining ignorance because it’s typically a comment made with the assumption that I’m already cool with you. I’m not trying to give you a lesson on the danger of assumptive thinking; I just wanna chill with nice, learned people, Dude!
Which leads me to the next few comments that so often follow #3….
4A:”Can you sing/dance?” or 4B: “I love lumpia and pancit!”
4A: To be completely honest… I really don’t think this is the worst stereotype Filipinos could have inherited. Singing and dancing are both great talents to supposedly automatically have when you’re from a certain background! The issue with this, though, is that it is still rooted in a mindset filled with assumptions, and once again, assumptions are limiting.
4B: Telling me you love lumpia and pancit is like telling a Canadian you’ve eaten maple syrup before. There are more interesting Filipino dishes out there. I promise. Let’s talk Filipino food when you’ve tried those.
Or even worse…
4C: “I dated a Filipina once…”
Uhm, okay…?! Is that supposed to get you more brownie points or make me feel special? Or maybe make you seem like you “get” Filipino culture? Granted, there is still potential that whatever follows this phrase will be completely harmless… but whenever a sentence begins with these five words, my “creeper with the fever” radar cannot help but go off. Also, feminizing “Filipino” by replacing the “o” with an “a”… ultimate cringe. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me: I hate it, I just hate it. Also, didn’t anyone ever tell you you’re not supposed to bring up your exes when you’re pursuing someone new?
So I realize now that a good number of these questions that peeve me really are just about people making assumptions about me far too early in the conversation. I am sure many of these guys are good people with good intentions (actually, wait… no I’m not… but I’d like to give the majority the benefit of the doubt), and maybe this is a good opportunity to turn assumptive dialogue into conversations filled with genuine curiosity.
In any case, I think I’ll still try my hand at this online dating thing. There are still far too many awesomely bad conversations to be had to stop now.