The “Who Viewed Your Profile” section for most of my dating apps should be renamed “Guys Who Dodged Your Shot.” Whenever I click on that feature, it’s usually a recap of men with whom I have unsuccessfully flirted, and so instead of showing me guys who are potentially interested in me, it’s more of a confirmation of those who are not.
Over 20 years of online cruising, I’d estimate at least 87.5 percent of the men I have complimented or courted have ignored my message, blocked my profile, or otherwise made it clear that any attraction was non-reciprocal. In a testament to my delusion or conceit, I’ve never internalized those rejections as having anything to do with me.
That’s not to deny that some guys were turned off by my face, my height, my weight or my age; while others probably curved me because of my skin color, or sexual position, or HIV status; or they didn’t like the gap in my teeth, or the size of my head, or the way my left eye droops and creates a crooked gaze; or because I ride my bicycle instead of drive a car, or already fucked his roommate or best friend, or smoke weed the way most people drink coffee.
Any of those have likely been factors in my advances being rebuffed, just as I have my criteria to eliminate the 87.5 percent of suitors whose romantic or sexual interest I cannot match. Some of those standards are arbitrary or uncontrollable, while others are blatantly shallow or perpetuate an oppressive beauty code, such as my aversion to guys whose eyes are too far apart.
There’s been a liberal campaign to correct compatibility and what folks find desirable, particularly by chastising those who consider ethnicity or body size when deciding who to hook up with or pursue a relationship. While racist and problematic mindsets certainly manifest in dating and sexual practices, it is proximity – more than prejudice – that explains why most relationships are intraracial, for the same reason a majority of violent crimes are white-on-white or black-on-black.
It is not inherently bigoted to be, exclusively, aroused by and attracted to those with whom you are culturally familiar and genetically similar. It only becomes hateful when you try to regulate other folks’ desires with your worldview, whether questioning the authenticity of someone who dates outside of his ethnicity or insisting that a pure heart would be attracted to anyone.
The attempted re-education around intimate desire feels as conscripted as ex-gay therapy, and tries to manage folks’ hearts with the egalitarian principles of a human resources office. While it might be inspiring if a guy interrogated his initial disinterest in me and determined his rejection stemmed from patriarchal, self-loathing capitalism, I still think I would rather be with someone who loved me more than he loved the generosity of progressive romance.
When I reject someone or am turned down by a guy I’ve approached, a judgment has been rendered about our compatibility, not my or his desirability. It’s an instance where there is no overlap between the 12.5 percent I’m interested in and the 12.5 percent who desire me, but we can both sate our dating thirsts by realizing the cup is a quarter full.