Did You Meet Your Husband Because You’re Not Picky?

Pairs well with The World At Large, by Modest Mouse

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At this point in my life I’ll eat anything. I’ve even come around to oysters, which, given their texture, I never thought I’d let past my teeth. I won’t be happy about escargot but I’ll do it. I’d probably also eat a tennis ball if you put that buttery sauce on top of it. As a child I was a little bit picky. Certainly not as bad as my younger brother, whose diet consisted of french fries and chicken nuggets until he joined the Army. But vegetables did not seem like a good time and for the most part seafood was impossible. It wasn’t that I was scared of certain foods based on appearance or name, but instead, I just liked what I liked. More preference than picky.

Clothes were worse. I hated 90% of the clothing I ever saw. I was a jeans and t-shirts girl until I turned 28. Fashion never took center stage for me, I didn’t grow up with a lot of money to spend on clothes and thusly never really let it become something I cared about. There wasn’t any point. Bless my grandmother for enjoying the afternoons we spent shopping for clothes. I feel terrible for what I put her through. She loved to take me shopping and I loved going with her, it meant an afternoon with just her and me and it was one of the nicest ways I spent my weekends. No younger brother around bothering me, no mother bossing me to constantly clean something. A shopping trip with Grama was nice, but I didn’t actually like clothes. So it was roughly five years of every single garment she ever picked out for me receiving a scrunched nose, a head shake, or the stink eye.

I like what I like. I never saw much merit in liking everything. There’s a quickdraw phrase coupled friends often paint across my brow whenever they ask me how the whole “dating” thing is going, and I haven’t got a positive answer for them. Which is, essentially, always. They’ll also use it when I show them one of my online dating apps as they look on in horror as I swipe left on the majority of men. It’s the first thing that flies out of their mouths at even one glimpse into the world of a single woman. Sing along if you know it:

“You’re too picky!”

It’s the first response. Every time. Like I’m a judgmental, self-centered wench for swiping left on most men. As if most men should be what I like. The average dating app is full of thousands, if not millions of men, it’s not unlike walking down a busy street in a major city. Anyone can be there, anyone can join. But I don’t spend my time lusting after each passerby the way people think I should be drawn to every face I swipe through on an app. I’m too picky? You’re illogical.

Picky implies a rush to judgment. Picky implies you’re wrong. It’s a negative adjective, particularly when you consider the context. A person can spend all the time they want selecting the perfect, unbruised grocery store produce they think they deserve but I’m apparently supposed to grab-n-go when it comes to my partner. Otherwise I’m picky. Otherwise I’m wrong.

That’s my problem, that’s it. The average Joe walking down the street, he should be my soul mate, and he probably is, I was just too picky to notice. Any old item on the menu. I don’t even need to see a wine list, I’ll just have whatever bottle is already open. Movies? Oh I’m not picky, which one starts in ten minutes? Vacation? Just spin the globe.

What I take this to really mean is that I shouldn’t be too picky. I’m 34 and single and I should really just take what I can get, at this point. It’s a judgment people make without really thinking about it, without putting themselves in my position. And it’s hurtful. Whatever is put in front of you is good enough for someone like you, Shani. Since most people I know aren’t and have never been in my position, I can understand how it happens.

It amuses me how much coupled people claim to know about the dating world simply by dipping a toe into the murky lake of my life for a moment. The length of an appetizer is all it takes for them to sum up my “problem,” I’m too picky. Because I don’t like what they think I should like. Because I don’t like everything.

Picky offends people. It personally offends them. If they select a person they think you should be attracted to and you aren’t, their egos are bruised. Never mind the pride of the person people are trying to publicly match up like thrift store socks. “Ugh, you don’t like what I think you should like? You’re too picky. It’s not me or my understanding what makes a good match, of course, that’s perfect. You’re just picky.” It’s why I approach my friends setting me up like a robot creeping toward a suspicious package. I’m more worried about offending the friend than meeting a complete stranger.

So I was just wondering, were you picky? Before you met your husband, I mean. Did you have preferences, chemistry with certain people? Or did you see one sitting at a bar and decide to just go with him? That one. The barstool at the end. He’ll do. Did you make a decision about your feelings for him? Did you even have feelings for him? I know that’s not supposed to matter but I’m picky, so for me it often does. Did he make you laugh, did he challenge you intellectually? Or did you just marry him because you’re not picky? Is that how you found him? Your lack of picky-ness? Ha, that’s a funny word. Or is it a hyphenate? I think it’s a hyphenate. Anyway.

He was probably just…there. He might have said hello at a party, sat in the office cubicle next to yours. He may have had the seat next to you on a flight to Pittsburgh. His physical appearance probably didn’t matter at all, right? If you’re not being picky, anyone will do, even if they look like their mother dressed them and later admit to you that yes, in fact, she does. Who he is, what he is, how he is, these things don’t matter. When they matter, that’s picky. Picky’s no good. You think I shouldn’t be, and I’m sure you set the right example by being open to things. All of the things.

On your first date, he was probably late, walking into the restaurant on his phone. He probably made you sit there for six minutes while he finished his conversation. You had a book in your bag to occupy yourself, it was fine. Over drinks, he probably interviewed you on where you went to school, what your parents do for a living, he just wanted to know a bit about your background before he decided to procreate with you I’m sure. He definitely asked how much money you make, right? I’m sure this didn’t bother a not-picky, presently married person like yourself at all.

He probably disagreed with every thought you expressed, and dismissed your opinions as invalid. He was probably put off by the fact you had opinions at all. He insisted on splitting the bill. Outside, he hailed you a taxi and was on his phone again before he shut the door. But he was there, he existed, and so he was the guy for you, right?

Or was he more the type to ask you out five minutes after you matched on your online dating app? Did he ask to meet you right then, right that very minute? Threatening to never ask again unless you met him immediately? That was okay with you, right? And when he got drunk during your first meeting and asked to go back to your apartment, that was fine, too, I’m sure. Just roll with it, you wouldn’t want to be picky.

I’ll admit, I can be quite selective when it comes to sense of humor. It’s a fault of mine, true. I like my humor paired with intelligence, and wit. I want my future partner to be capable of filling in for the host of The Daily Show, should circumstances warrant it. I’ve been too picky in this regard. I should just accept that most men aren’t witty-funny and resolve to fake my laughs for the rest of my life to bolster the ego of whatever-his-name-is, my husband. I shouldn’t be so picky.

Out of curiosity, the first time you two had sex, did he immediately get dressed and say, “I’ll walk you out,” while you were still in his bed? Guys are so funny sometimes. I mean, that’s not the way I like sex to go, but I’m really picky and prefer not to sleep with someone until we’re in a place where we’d want to spend the night together, to avoid this very scenario…again. And I’m so picky that I wait for it, which is probably why I’m alone.

Were his religious beliefs really different from yours? I’m sure that wasn’t a big deal. You can’t be too picky about this stuff. Did he tell you he’d never, under any circumstances live in the city where your family resides? I’m sure you got over that, no problem. There are so many other great cities to try. I hear Nashville is nice.

Maybe you didn’t mind that he still had three roommates at 32. It surely wasn’t a sign that he couldn’t support himself, it was probably just a little quirk that made him interesting. Waiting in line to use the bathroom at 3am on a Wednesday makes for a good story, at the very least. Money doesn’t — and shouldn’t — matter at all. Who wants to be so superficial? And he was a bartender, right? So every night when you got home from the office, he left for work? You saw each other Sundays between 10am and 4pm, I’m sure that was plenty of time to build something meaningful. I mean of course it was. Things worked out for you, you’re an accepting person.

So that’s how you found him, huh? By not being picky? Then that’s what I should do too. Some things are so silly, personalities and beliefs, those don’t have any impact on a relationship, I should stop being so picky and just accept what’s in front of me, whatever it is. You did, right? And look at you! You’re married! I’m so glad you weren’t picky. Your wedding was so fun.

I’m really picky, I’m going to stop. You’re right. I’m going to marry the next guy I go out with. I’ve definitely gone through all of the rude ones, the condescending ones, the entirely un-funny ones. I’m sure the next one is it. I’ll stop caring so much about intelligence, it’s really not a big deal. And my physical attraction to people has really been setting me back. Appearance doesn’t matter, I should know better. I’ve been so shallow all these years and look where it’s gotten me! Don’t you worry about me, I’ll change. I won’t be picky. I’ll never find anyone that way.

But until I do, please remember that you got to choose yours. You didn’t settle for a shriveled apple at the corner store, you went to the farmers market and got your pick. And I’m going to do the same. My age or the number of years I’ve been actively dating without success aren’t disqualifiers from happiness. They’re just numbers that were different from, not worse than, yours. And until I find something, please don’t make me feel like I’m “causing” my own singleness by being “picky.” I’m not single because I’m picky, no more than you’re not single because you weren’t picky. There is an entire generation of single women out there and our degree of selectiveness when it comes to the human being we’ll die holding hands with has nothing to do with our current lack of partners. A dating culture that has developed into a human being buffet where taking action and forming bonds are not only difficult, but discouraged might actually have something to do with it though. I’m worth more than just the next thing that shows up. Good enough isn’t good enough. I’m happy to wait for great.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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