I hate assholes but I date assholes.
I broke a personal record by going out with a guy I met online for the fifth time. I liked him a lot because he was interesting and witty and “got me.” He is also immature and broke and entitled and vain and unaware of others and not particularly attentive to what goes on in my life. He likes conflict and control and one of the ways he gets his kicks is by negging people. Why is he still in my life? I’ve dated other versions of him before. At 22, it was understandable. But 26? Way too old for that shit.
I wonder why I wasn’t 100% inclined to break it off. (Not to worry, I have. I’m too proud and principled to ignore the fact I feel disrespected.) And as usual, I look to my father to shed light on my preference for jerks. He negs all the time and can rarely be described as “agreeable.” Whether it’s schooling us or playing devil’s advocate, he’s always interested in posing an alternate view, which a lot of people (like my mother) see as a fundamental need to argue.
Now bear with me as a make a gross generalization and stretch between my family/culture and love life.
A lot of men I know who grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China are the same way. For them it wasn’t called negging or about getting a girl interested, it was just being normal in a landscape that demanded it. Chinese marriage used to be based on obligation, sacrifice and survival. Headstrong refusal to accept defeat, even if it means sleeping in separate bedrooms and having a relationship that, at best, is just platonic. Instead of romance and emotions, my parents valued efficiency and honesty. If a girl was too fat or a guy came from too poor of a family, you’d just come out with it and move on to the next person. As unhealthy as it is, I admire the strength and restraint behind it. There were less feelings to avoid hurting. My childhood was absent of heart to hearts, crying or coddling, and that’s kind of how my romantic relationships tend to be. Doesn’t mean I have to date someone who is a bad boyfriend–but there is an understandably wide overlap between the two.
Give me a few days to get over it. But in the meantime, I am telling myself: I do not have to be my parents. Nor are they necessarily related to all my issues with dating.