As someone who occasionally (okay often) delves into the online dating world, I get my fair share of messages that drive me crazy. The catalyst for this particular post was the following exchange:
- Guy: Must mean you’re smart and beautiful 🙂
- Me: I am 🙂
- Guy: And confident! Very hot. haha
So here’s what grinds my gears. He laughed at me. His expectation was that I would be flattered that he thinks I’m smart and beautiful. That I should brush or blush off that compliment and accept his opinion modestly. But fuck that. I am smart. I am beautiful. And I know it. I’m not always confident in myself, but I am confident that I don’t need a stranger to judge me smart and beautiful to know that I am those things. And to add to it, apparently being aware of my strengths makes me hot. So what does that imply me? or more importantly, what does that imply about him?
Let me say this unequivocally: online dating sucks. Being judged by (and judging) strangers is an inherently necessary part of the process, but it’s not a fun thing. We’re all looking for people who recognize the best parts of us and trying to suss out those people without being weird. For me, I place a high value on my intelligence and my attractiveness. So on one hand, it’s nice to be recognized for the traits that I value in myself. However, I also don’t want to be dismissed with a “haha” when I confirm a compliment. I don’t need someone’s permission to be smart and pretty. I just am those things.
I spent a good portion of my adolescence awkwardly blushing at compliments that I was beautiful. I just didn’t know what to do with that information. I’d usually say something like “oh stop” or “you don’t mean that” or mostly just fumble my words in a truly teenage way because I wasn’t confident in myself. But not being confident didn’t make me not pretty or smart. It just made me unaware of the fact that I was pretty and smart. But I’m not an awkward teen anymore. I’m a fully grown, independent woman who is still intelligent and attractive. I don’t need to be confident to be those things. Even on my least confident days, I am those things. I don’t want to be made to feel bad about the fact that I’m aware of it now.
But maybe I’m being far too quick to jump down this guy’s throat. It’s hard to know what to respond when someone takes a compliment at face value. We’re not taught to do that, and we’re certainly not taught how to respond when someone does it. I’m sure he meant well. But I can’t help being an angry feminist sometimes. Because I shouldn’t have to temper how I feel about myself to make a man more comfortable.