Advice

Miss Information

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Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

  

Dear Miss Information,
Is it mandatory to reveal your race in your dating profile? In mine, no one can tell — I never include a photo. I’ll send one if someone asks, but I don’t want my face seen by certain peeps. Plus, after dating for several years online, I’ve noticed that certain men have a bias against dating outside their race. They will list "white only" or check off boxes for a few other races, none of which match mine. Why are people so closed-minded and stupid? How are the good ones ever going to find me if I’m being filtered out? — Sick of This


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Dear Sick of This,
People can be pretty dumb sometimes, especially when it comes to that particular portion of the online dating questionnaire. I don’t think it’s always on purpose, though. You know how you go shopping and you always hit those same three stores? You do it because it’s fast and relatively easy to find something you like. However, if someone came up to you with a $10 pair of diamond-encrusted original-issue Air Jordans, would you turn them down just because you didn’t see them at Foot Locker? No. You know something special (not to mention gaudy as fuck) when you see it.
Just like a big, run-down mall filled with Chess Kings and JC Penneys, online dating is saturated with people and profiles. Daters filter out certain categories of people so they can cut through some of the overflow. Many of them are more open-minded than you’d think. They just need a little nudge. A suggestive sale. Someone to say, "Oh, excuse me. Have you considered this awesome somethin’ somethin’? Because you really look like you could use a little somethin’ somethin’, and this could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership."
Buy some credits, Sick of This, and start being that person. (It helps if you own a hot pink blazer with huge shoulder pads). If you see a hot guy and the race doesn’t match up, contact him anyway. You don’t have to say, "I know I’m not the race you’re looking for, but. . ." Just introduce yourself and let your profile take it from there. If you look in your inbox and there’s no response, do what I do. Hold your mouse firmly in your right hand while pointing at his profile on your monitor with your left index. Say "Suck it, Suck-o!" as loudly as you can get away with in the office, and move on to the next available gentleman.
I don’t want to be all Pollyanna. There are your garden-variety racists out there, as well as a good number of people who aren’t interested in dating you based on your race alone. It could be aesthetics, sexual attraction, pre-conceived notions about personality, fear or inexperience, a shitty experience with an ex of the same race, who knows. At the end of the day, I’m all for people including their race in their profiles. I know that’s irritatingly easy and shallow to say as a middle-class white girl. "Racism doesn’t exist! Let’s all go to homecoming!" But dating takes time and energy. I’d rather know if my date’s only into Asian women before I run around searching for clothes that don’t have cat hair all over them.
Start experimenting with a few different ads: photo and race specified, photo and no race specified, no photo and no race, no text and big picture of Angela Davis flipping the bird. See what kind of responses come trickling in. I bet you’ll start seeing a much higher success rate when people can see your pretty mug. Few people regularly check out ads without photos. That could be half of your low response rate right there, kiddo. Check back and let me know how it goes.

 

Dear Miss Information,

I started dating a guy a year and a half ago, despite misgivings about his nicotine and weed addictions. He promised he wouldn’t do it around me (and he doesn’t, ever). We’re in love, the sex is great, and we’ve been maintaining a long-distance relationship for the past eight months. We’re both interested in settling down and moving in together, and he says he’s willing to give up cigarettes if that happens. But he’s in a grad program and I’m in law school. It will be at least a year before we can even try to live together.
I hate smoking. He promised to do his best to quit six months ago when I gave him an ultimatum, but he basically gave up without telling me. To add to all the stress, we had an abortion a few days ago. It was the right decision, and he was a model partner, but I still feel like we had a Near-Commitment Experience and passed it by. He feels like we made it through a huge challenge, only for me to pick this fight now.
Feeling trapped and manipulated by my year and a half of waiting, and horribly depressed at the thought of the coming year, I broke up with him last night. We’re both crushed. Am I facing up to a basic incompatibility, or just being intolerant and hormone-smashed from the ended pregnancy? We seem to be at an impasse: he says he doesn’t want to quit right now, and I just can’t grit my teeth and wait anymore. Are we missing something? —
Quitter



Dear Quitter,
Holy shit, I need a cigarette. This letter is stressing me out. Normally I’d pull out a stogie, but leaving a warm table full of friends to loiter outside in the cold, and return smelling like industrial-grade dooky stopped being cute, and I quit several years ago. I feel for your guy though. Smoking is awesome. I’d go back to it if it wouldn’t. . . you know. . . kill me.
Jonesing aside, I think you two set yourself up for failure. If Boyfriend is supposed to quit when you move in together, and you can’t move for at least a year, why did you throw down that ultimatum six months ago? Was that a warm-up, or an effort to push the breakup along? If you’re afraid of committing to a smoker, why set his quit date for the same date you sign the lease? Is that a good plan? Is that logical? Also, what’s with this "do his best" business? I’m not surprised "do his best" was interpreted kinda liberally by your boyfriend. The goals aren’t clear (both for his quitting smoking and what you guys want to do career/housing-wise), and the ones you do have, you keep moving around.
I think you both have serious doubts about committing to each other. Post-pregnancy hormones are affecting this, sure, but this has been going on for quite a while, like you said. You’re in a long-term relationship but living in separate residences, contemplating breaking up, and making life decisions that indicate you’re not ready to get more serious.
You are torn up by your boyfriend’s indecision. You think all you want is this one thing from him. But what would his quitting smoking mean to you? Would it show that he’s finally serious about the relationship? Would it be a sign that he cares about you and is sensitive enough to connect with you emotionally? Would it reassure you that he’s capable of self-control and carrying something through? These questions are more substantial than a few puffs off a Marlboro.
Your boyfriend is probably sick of being criticized. Subconsciously, he’s using the smoking issue as a way to forestall commitment. He doesn’t see a big problem with his weed and tobacco use, and resents having to take on another person’s (your) values as his own. He’s seen you through difficult times, and feels like he’s gotten little but complaining to show for it. He wonders if you’ll continue to be this way in the long term. If I quit smoking, he thinks, what will she choose to criticize me about next? His delaying quitting and putting conditions on it is his way of reasserting his identity and gaining control.
Quitter, I think you did the right thing by quitting this relationship. You both feel what you feel very strongly. You gave it an ample amount of time, tried your best to compromise, and it didn’t work out. You don’t want to date a smoker, and, whether he admits it or not, he digs smoking. You shouldn’t have to change, and he shouldn’t have to change. That’s the golden nugget in all this. It’s no one’s fault.
I know you guys are miserable, and you should expect to be for a time. Quitting people is just as miserable as getting off the smokey treats. If they could make an ex-girlfriend patch or an ex-husband gum, I’m sure we’d be a nation of addicts, calling and hanging up on our exes when the drugstore is closed and we can’t get our next fix.
Previous Miss Info

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