Friday, February 15, 2008

Bitter, Much?

I give good first date. Unless I'm in the mood to actually enjoy myself, in which case I get wildly drunk, let my hair down, and frighten the boy into running away as fast as he can.

But good first date is my norm. I see it as the polite thing to do. They pay, and in return, I shower beforehand, apply my usual haphazard make-up job, and look interested when they speak. During a recent post-date briefing, SK told me that after a date, I usually sound as though I've just come out of a grueling work meeting. That was revelatory. But I actually ENJOY long, protracted, difficult work meetings. So it's not that I don't enjoy the dates at all, they often just get categorized as "work."

And I am good a worker bee. So it makes sense that I give good first date and almost inevitably pick up a stalker along the way.

SK forwarded an article to me yesterday titled: Why Perfect Dates Make Lousy Partners. I've linked to the article, but I've gone ahead and summarized the main points:

The main finding is that the best "catches" in dating land may be the worst choices vis-a-vis relationships.

The study was led by Michael E. Roloff, a professor of communication studies. First off, Roloff states that people who monitor themselves carefully in social situations appear to be the most socially appropriate and are thus "highly sought after as romantic partners". These "high self-monitors" are social chameleons and they constantly assess how their actions affect others and adjust to fit the appropriateness of the situation.

Roloff cedes that this can be a positive and helpful trait in many circumstances. But he then points to a downside when it comes to the romantic relationships of these high self-monitors:

"High self-monitors may appear to be the kind of people we want to have relationships with, but they themselves are less committed to and less happy in their relationships than low self-monitors," and he claims that high self-monitors have trouble presenting their true selves with their romantic partners. "High self-monitors are very likeable and successful people. However, it appears they’re just not deep."

Not deep? But then Roloff continues:

"It's not that high self-monitors are intentionally deceptive or evil. They appear to have an outlook and way of achieving their goals that makes them attractive to us socially but that prevents them from being particularly happy or loyal in their romantic relationships."

Even through my hysterical laughter, I see so many problems with his argument. How does being a social chameleon translate into being shallow? The last I checked, being emotionally unavailable/leery of commitment doesn't automatically equate to being shallow. And aren't there other potential explanations for high-monitors not rating their level of happiness/loyalty as relatively high? How about the fact that they ARE "sought after" partners - and that simply having "more" options might contribute to a certain reluctance to commit and fully share their "true selves"?

OK, Roloff, darling. Bitter, much?

Did a high self-monitor break your heart? Did you think you knew her but was then shocked to discover you didn't? Did you forward your study to her to tell her that you understand that she wasn't being INTENTIONALLY deceptive or evil, that she's just incapable of being happy or loyal?

And to top it off, that she's just "not deep"?

1 comment:

Robespierre said...

Hmmm ... let's defend Mr. Roloff a wee bit and respond to your criticisms of his argument (though obviously it is a bit of a fluff piece). I do not remember anywhere in the article that he implies that social chameleons are afraid of commitment. I think he is merely arguing that they are less dedicated to being in a committed relationship (no fear involved). I have myself always thought that people who find great joy in having a large quantity of friends (social butterflying) are generally people who do not share themselves very fully. That they are not the ones you find yourself truly engaging with at a party and come off blown away by. I never look at them as being incredibly socially skilled or advantaged, but merely having personalities that drive them to this kind of behavior. And those people do seem a bit shallow because they have a personality on display to the world that they are happy to show to anybody -- no one person is really any more special than another. I guess you could argue that you can be deep with everyone, but in the real world that does not seem to ring true. Perhaps calling EVERYONE who has his depicted personality shallow is a bit extreme.

Your point about the choices granted the good looking, popular among us contributing to their level of happiness in a relationship is a great one. One need only hear the voice of Chris Rock describing men as being only as faithful as their options. The lack of "the new" that everyone suffers with in a relationship is perhaps felt most extremely by those who perceive themselves as having such easy access to it.