This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Joel Anderson discuss a Prudie letter: “Not Your Type”
Joel Anderson: I really feel for “Not Your Type” because I think everyone can relate to feeling like “maybe no one is into me,” at least once in their lives. (Well, everyone except Prudie here.) But this seems like an issue that’s much less about finding companionship and more about trying to find happiness with yourself, by yourself.
Jenée Desmond-Harris: Thanks for being a good husband and colleague and filling in again. And stop it, of course I’ve felt like that. Anyway, like I said in the response, I kinda hate the message to single people that you HAVE to be happy on your own and love yourself to death before you can find someone. But I do think there’s something to be said for trying to be a little happier. And one thing I forgot to mention in the response is that a lot of single people are a lot happier than partnered people. As my inbox full of people in miserable relationships prove, a relationship is not a shortcut to joy.
Joel: That’s absolutely true. To me, entering a relationship isn’t and shouldn’t be the finish line. You have so much more of your life to go. And even if you do what seems impossible, which is finding someone you like who likes you back, there’s so much more of life that you have to figure out yourself and alongside that person. Even if “Not Your Type” finds their perfect partner, it by no means means that you’ll still like that person in a couple of years. As they already, unfortunately, know. So, to use another cliché, you really have to be responsible for your own happiness. That’s obviously easier said than done. They mentioned “depression,” so it obviously goes without saying that they’re going to have to continue with the therapy.
Jenée: Yeah, tbh this whole thing felt colored by depression to me. Just a very dark outlook, for someone who has actually had a very rich dating life! I know plenty of people who would kill to have had three big loves by 38.
Joel: Right. We’re not talking about someone who has never had a romantic relationship or even sex. This is someone who’s been affirmed in both areas!
Jenée: He’s clearly people’s type! I am really serious about how he should ask to be set up.
I’m biased as someone who loves to play matchmaker, but it’s also nice to hand some of this over to others who care about you. (Even though I know straight people are infamous for being like “Here, meet ANY OLD GAY PERSON I know because you’re both gay,” so he might want to watch out for that)
Joel: (You should be upfront about never having successfully paired anyone before offering your services as a matchmaker.)
Jenée: I’ve gotten people on dates. What is “success” anyway???
Joel: But to your point, beyond seeking out friends to help them, they should be thinking about continuing to look for other sorts of communal activities—which, admittedly, is tough in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
Jenée: I used to think that was bullshit until my friend joined kickball specifically to meet men and ended up getting married.
Joel: But all of the things that he likes to do: working out, hanging at the club and bars, etc.
etc., he needs to find a group of folks who like to do that too. Or, yes, do some of those group activities like kickball, softball, whatever. Shoot, even try those group exercise classes. Lots of people meet someone at boot camp or yoga class, you know?
Jenée: Ok no need to bring my past into this. I wasn’t LOOKING at boot camp.
Joel: Wow, you exposed your own self! I didn’t even have to do it. Keep trying those hobbies, “Not Your Type.” You never know if your own Prudie might be out there.
Jenée: LOL. But seriously I think he’s not going to have great luck in any of these environments if—excuse me for getting all woo-woo—the energy he’s giving off is “I have a lot to offer but for some reason nobody likes me, I guess I’ll die alone, I am sad.”
Joel: I know, the “woe is me” energy needs to be resolved before he can truly get out there and make some action happen. Which gets back to the therapy piece of this. All that said: Don’t move to no damn rural area unless you really fancy open spaces and solitude.
Jenée: “The woe is me energy needs to be resolved” is a perfect way of putting it. Ugh, I’m so self-conscious of being a smug married person—but that’s really what I think.
Joel: It’s really tough. Because plenty of “woe is me” people get into relationships and get married. It doesn’t have to be an obstacle but, unfortunately, sometimes it is. There’s nothing we can say that will make any of this easier. Dating and relationships are hard. That’s why every advice columnist’s bread and butter are these questions. You just have to keep showing up, man.