Dating and Relationship Advice

After too many espresso martinis and girl talk, I left my number for a guy at the other end of the bar. His cheeky winks and flirtatious friendliness made my besties roar with laughter, and they were overwhelmingly insistent that I indulge his advances with a coy note upon our departure.

By the time the tequila and talking wore off the next day, I noticed that I had a message from an unknown number waiting on my lock screen. He was glad I stopped by and hoped to take me out for a drink sometime next week if I was free. Between his mask during my sobriety and the blur of my tipsiness, I had no idea what he looked like. Sure, I remember dark hair and olive skin, but we had all been cautiously masked up as we began the evening, and I couldn’t quite remember the facial details after the masks came off.

Margaret suggested he was just my type, a short king with a strong smile. No, Priya insisted, he was much more grunge-meets-goofy — a Pete Davidson type, she was sure. Jessica thought he was kind of ugly and just fishing for attention.

As I opened and closed his message to me — the dating equivalent of checking the fridge again 5 minutes later — I pondered if I could commit to a date with this guy, even if I didn’t know what he looked like. Was the idea that he liked me enough? Was it that he could remember too much? What did it mean that I couldn’t remember? What would I do if he pulled down the mask and I didn’t like how he looked? What if he had a sole patch?

With shows like Love is Blind and zany characters like Shake, Shane, Shayna, and Sal, it’s easy to feel pressured to believe modern love has been diluted by unrealistic beauty standards, unfair visual stereotypes, and unethical assumptions based on looks. But hasn’t love always been this way? Haven’t we always used visual cues to get our motors running for an emotional connection? Was I a douchebag for wanting a cute guy to like me? Was he one for accepting a date based solely on looks?

After hemming and hawing, I made plans for cocktails. I nervously entered the bar, scanning fervently for any sign of familiarity and planning a quick escape — in case of sole patch. Then, like a bolt of lightning to the brain, I saw him.

And he was gorgeous: golden hazel eyes under softly gelled hair. A perfectly trimmed beard framed a dashing crooked smile. His tatted biceps bulged in a fitted tee; clean sneaks peaked out from tailored pants. His eyebrows, his elbows, and the curve of his jaw were all exquisitely sculpted. He was gorgeous…and he knew it.

When he wasn’t talking about himself, he was bragging about other girls he’d bagged or recounting “awesome nights out with the bros.” He was beautiful, yes, but he was also dull.

I realized I wanted to go out with him because of lust, blurry and blind lust that made me think more about body and face than anything else. Lust is blind — drawing me into 3 drinks with this self-centered adonis. I wasn’t in love with this man because love isn’t blind.

Love isn’t blind; it’s blinding. It shocks and scares us when it takes new forms; it confuses us with shape-shifting powers and lucky turns. It shines a light on our soft edges and hardens our uneasy urges. It angers us when it doesn’t make sense — it can launch us into an ire that we didn’t even know existed within ourselves. Love is patient, except when it’s not. It’s kind, except when it’s crummy. It evokes envy and angst, but it doesn’t permit it for long. Love blinds us, our decision-making, and what we think to be true.

Would we watch a show where couples could match based on body shape, size, and style and then can make an emotional connection? If you ask me, that’s just the dating world now. In the dating-app age of relationships, love blinds us with its immeasurable luxury; it makes us indecisive and seemingly small. Love is blinding, lust is blind, and navigating the difference between them is blurry.

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