Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Art of Faking It 2: The Things We Do to Please Each Other (In and Out of Bed!)

A good friend once told me something about his online-dating habits that left me rethinking the entire enterprise. He said that sometimes when he meets an Internet connection for the first time, the guy occasionally isn't exactly what he advertised himself to be. No big surprise there, but here's the twist: My friend, who is no slouch in the looks department, will have sex with him anyway. Why? To spare his feelings.

Now my friend is one of the nicest guys I know (you'd have to be super kind -- or just really horny -- to invite a dog under the covers just so he doesn't go away barking mad), but I happen to know that in everyday life, he's fairly discerning when it comes to sex and romance. I'm pretty sure that he would never hook up with an ugly guy at the local bar simply to spare his feelings. But here he was telling me that under certain circumstances, he was perfectly willing to toss his standards out the window.

No wonder so many gay guys seek sex online! If your looks are hurtin', as long as you have decent enough photos to lure a good catch, you have a much better chance of hooking up outside of your league!

The irony, though, is that online searches generally begin with more stringent requirements than cruising at the local disco. Browsing through profiles, we bypass guys we'd totally do after a few drinks at DJ Station, searching for the face of Adonis with perfect abs one torso down. In the end, though, guys as good-looking as my friend would sleep with just about anyone in order to avoid hurting someone's feelings.

This, apparently, is mostly a guy thing -- and not just gay guys.

I've learned some interesting things about the dating habits of straight people from watching Dating in the Dark on the Sony Channel in Bangkok. On the show, which ran for 12 episodes in 2009-2010 on ABC in the U.S., three women and three men move into separate wings of a house and meet in a dark room. Eventually, they pair up into groups of twos, though sometimes more than one of the women go after the same guy because ladies are competitive like that -- lesson No. 1!

Lesson No. 2: Woman are a lot more into looks than they let on. They're probably more likely than men to fall in love with someone ugly over time, but when romance is on the table from the get go, they pull out that checklist, and they are ready to play hardball. When one of them asks to run her hands through the hair of her in-the-dark date or feel him up, it's so obvious what she's looking for. Would a guy ever get away with doing the same?

After several dates in the dark (where the special lighting makes them look disturbingly unattractive to viewers), the chosen ones stand facing each other as the spotlight shines on them one by one, revealing warts and all. If you like what you see, you go out on the balcony, to, hopefully, meet your match. If not, you exit through the front door with your rolling suitcase and walk off into the sunset, while the rejected one watches from the balcony. For me, waiting for the outcome is so painfully suspenseful -- possibly nearly as much as it must be for the guy, or girl, on the balcony -- that I have to view through my fingers. (Interestingly, in all the episodes I've seen, someone always ends up on the balcony.)

After the reveal, when both parties return to their separate living quarters to discuss with their same-sex fellow contestants, the guys almost always have something nice to say. Even when there's a "but...," whether it's about her body type, her complexion, or the fact that she isn't quite up to his normal girlfriend standards, they try to be diplomatic. After all, the comments are being filmed. Why risk hurting anyone's feelings on national TV? Perhaps that's why most of the men go out on the balcony anyway. If only I could be a spy in the cab that drives them away -- I'm almost certain some of the couplings are over as soon as the cameras stop rolling.

The women are ruthless in comparison (lesson No. 3). When they start carping about outfits and hairlines, they mean it. They aren't going anywhere near that balcony. One woman who probably wouldn't turn a single head in a crowded bar couldn't bring herself to go out on the balcony to meet the gorgeous guy she'd totally fallen for in the dark, simply because he was too short.

In all the episodes I've seen, only one guy has gone out the front door, leaving the girl behind on the balcony. Interestingly, she was more beautiful than any of the women in the episodes I've watched, so stunning she could pull off playing Usher's love interest in his next video -- if only God would allow her to do it.

And that was exactly why her would-be match rejected her. Beautiful as she was, she was a devout Christian (the sort of devout Christian who brings it up in casual conversation), and he didn't want to compete with another guy -- you know, Him!

I guess sometimes when it comes to pleasing someone whose highest priority is pleasing Him, the best that you can do is please yourself.

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