Monday, September 26, 2011

A League of Your Own


Recently, I was in Kansas for a wedding. At the end of the trip, checking in my bag at the airport to start my trek home, one of the male workers informed me that I looked “exactly like Bradley Cooper.” Now, I think I’m a decent looking guy depending on how healthy I’ve eaten that week, when my last hair cut was, and if the lighting in the room accents my skin tone and eyes properly. But I’m no Bradley Cooper-- except in Kansas, where apparently I’m the equivalent. I hear in Kentucky I’m Brad Pitt and in Arkansas I’m Ryan Gosling (but only with my shirt off).

Here's me at the Kansas airport.
Having a great hair day.
But the Kansas compliment got me to thinking about the different definitions of attractiveness and success in different parts of the country (and the world). In the middle of America, a guy like me is the equivalent to Bradley Cooper-- I’ve got a good career in the entertainment industry, I’m not 600 lbs with BBQ sauce all over my face and fingers, and I don’t consider “traveling” to be simply driving to the further Sonic burger because it’s the only one open past 2 am. But in L.A., where I live, where I date, where I am on a constant search for the love of my life, do you know who is the equivalent of Bradley Cooper? The actual Bradley Cooper. And a guy like me is just that: a guy.

In Kansas, the only place you have any options is at Hometown Buffet. But Los Angeles is a city packed with attractive, successful, intelligent people. And I’m not putting myself down and saying I don’t belong in this group. However, I am saying that there are a lot of options for men and women here when it comes to dating, and in a city as full of ambition and opportunity as L.A. is, it’s tough to find someone who is willing to simply be happy with what they have rather than be obsessed with what they could have. 

In no way am I immune from this disease. Often times, I am guilty of trying to date out of my league. And just like I’ve been out with girls who I can tell after five minutes I would never date again, I’m sure I’ve been on dates where the girl finishes her glass of wine, still doesn’t find what I have to offer good enough, and feels grateful that she was at least smart enough to order the most expensive thing on the menu. Or more likely it happens when I pick them up in a Honda.

Drive a Honda Hybrid in LA and they will think you're poor.
Drive it in Kansas and they'll think you're a gay.
Either way you're going home alone.
In some ways, I think that the perfect couple is made up of two people who think they don’t deserve the other one. While this set up can lead to insecurity or jealousy when it pertains to people who aren’t confident in themselves, I’m more referring to people like me, who think that they are a pretty great catch, but still yearn for someone who in many respects is “superior” to them, or at least brings something better and brighter to their lives:

One has looks, one has humor. One has money, one has culture. One has ego, one has modesty. One has work ethic, one puts family first. The combinations go on and on. We are all puzzle pieces looking for the place we fit. But in Los Angeles, where there are more quality puzzle pieces than perhaps anywhere in the world, even a perfect fit isn’t always enough to keep a puzzle together, no matter how beautiful a picture it creates.

In Los Angeles, perfect fits are hard to come by.
And even harder to keep.
I say this because I’ve seen relationships between two great people deteriorate when one person decides they want an upgrade, whether they deserve it or not. As soon as one half of a relationship takes the other for granted, the jig is up and eyes start to wander for the next best thing. Often the “next best thing” is a more attractive person, a richer person, or simply a person who resides on the other side of the fence, where the grass appears greener. Of course, more often than not, once you hop this fence, the grass on the other side begins to look wonderful without you standing on it.

Recently, I decided to go way out of my league and shoot for the stars. For a guy with a deep understanding of my own flaws and improvable qualities, I’m not shy when it comes to going after something or someone I want. We have all been through the darkness of rejection, heartbreak, and pain, and eventually the sun rises, so all you’re risking by putting yourself out there is some time and the chance of humiliation. But not putting in the effort, in my opinion, is the more humiliating waste of time.

When everything is an option, it's tough to stick with what you have.
Well, despite my optimistic approach, the effort left me empty handed and I ended up wishing we had met in Kansas, where maybe she would have thought of me as a more worthy catch than she did in L.A. At the same time, once any chance for a relationship was dashed, I began to think what actually dating this girl would have meant: she was beautiful, kind, social, popular, ambitious, talented, and smart. And she was a resident of Los Angeles, the City of Options. A girl who is constantly rising to the next level will always be looking for a staircase, and what were the odds that she would choose me as a final step rather than just a middle one?

Maybe I am scarred from the past. Maybe I am bitter from memories of feeling not good enough even though deep down I knew I was too good. Maybe I am looking for reasons not to go out and try again. It’s so much safer to date someone below you. Less challenging. Less stressful. Less pressure to rise to a higher level because it’s so much easier to sink to theirs. But is this really any way to live life, especially when you’re talking about finding someone to spend the rest of it with?

A friend of mine told me that it was “time to move on” from my crush. His advice was meant to help me and I appreciated it. And while I’m sure I will move on from her, it doesn’t mean that I will give up on wanting someone who is better than me, someone who forces me to be better, and someone who makes me stop looking at my other options. As I said, a perfect relationship needs two people who feel like they don’t deserve the other. And the day I date someone who I don't feel lucky to be with is the day I have officially given up. 

Giving up on a girl is fine. Some puzzles aren’t meant to be solved. But in Los Angeles, the City of Options, giving up on myself isn’t one of them.

I may not be Bradley Cooper, but Todd Fields isn’t so bad. 

5 comments:

  1. Yes, I'm the asshole that 'hated' this blog. Dating 'below'? 'above'? Those are words used by people who don't deserve to be in a relationship. I think "you make me want to be a better man" has nothing to do with insecurity. cdb

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  2. You've got a lot to offer a girl. Just ask my mom if you ever need a reminder.

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  3. "I think that the perfect couple is made up of two people who think they don’t deserve the other one" I have to say, and I don't mean this in a judgmental way, but that sounds like a teenagers idea of what a relationship means.

    I honestly think that in a healthy, grown-up (and obviously the term carries more weight than just involving two people who are by age defined as "grown-up") there is no room for this kind of thing. As feel-good-self-help-ish as it may sound, I think in order to be in a great relationship (hell in order to even find 'the one' to have that relationship with) you have to be whole on your own. We are all human, obviously we will have our shortcomings, etc. But knowing full well what you have to offer someone and also being aware of what qualities help to feed your soul and round you out from someone else are really important and I think failed relationships should serve to make each of these points more clear for us.

    Bringing "something better and brighter" to our lives does not have to come at the expense of self-worth or confidence, or whatever might make you yearn for someone "Superior". There is a yin and yang to a relationship and the same quality that may seem 'inferior' in one situation may be beneficial in another. The key is to find someone that provides the balance to who you are.

    One of the most important qualities in a relationship is respect. Mutual and equal respect. By its very nature, that kind of respect cannot thrive when either one of you views yourself or the other in terms of superior/inferior.

    Which is not to say that a little awe is not also involved, but lets face it. If you believe you don't deserve something, eventually you'll find a way to sabotage it.

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  4. All very good, well written points. The only question is, why anonymous?

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  5. Fuck you Todd Fields. Go Fuck yourself.

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