On Tuesday’s episode of the Mindy Project, Mindy realizes/is repeatedly told that she is too picky a dater and decides to go out of her comfort zone to prove just how unpicky she is. She ends up going on a date with her polar opposite–a forty-something manchild professional skateboarder with an aversion to pants (he’s a shorts kinda guy). Obviously things end quickly, though amicably.
Dating just to prove a point sounds silly, but it happens more often than we think. While Mindy was trying to prove to other people that she wasn’t too picky, we often try to prove certain things to ourselves. Sometimes we want to prove to ourselves that we’re not picky, that we can snag a ’9,’ that we don’t have a specific ‘type’ of guy we fall back on, or that we can even be in a relationship in the first place. I had a friend who wanted to date “a dude from every race” just to say so (though I don’t know what final tally was on that…)
It’s one thing to challenge ourselves in relationships. We learn a lot about ourselves by simply reflecting on how we act and react with our partners, so wanting to take lessons from past relationships and learn from those to better ourselves is a worthy challenge. But when we want to prove something or do something only to say that we did it, often it’s more of an ego-based thing, a temporary hurdle to get over. Our behavior in and in between relationships is constantly changing, and learning from those changes constitutes true growth, is something that’s difficult to attain when focused on a more arbitrary self-imposed standard.
Of course we don’t have to want to be in committed relationships to be able to grow from interaction to interaction. And we’re totally allowed to date however we damn please. But at the end of the day, dating to prove something takes our energy away from actually connecting with the people we’re dating.