Solid Dudes

A month ago, I was on Tinder and I matched with a 29 year old man who was exactly my type (attractive in a low-key way, dark eyes and hair, just the right amount of scruff). Then I read his bio.

‘Love cars, formula one, fishing, hiking, beaches, mountains, white waters, tennis, long drives, weekend escapades, good food, good laughter and good company. There’s a big list of things to do this year, so it should be fun! Keep smiling. : )’

Christ alive, I thought immediately. What a terrible mistake. This man was Not My Type. He was outdoorsy and into typical Dude Things like cars and HIKING. I’m a girl who only likes going out if it’s to restaurants and hotels that have luxe bathrooms you can take selfies in. We would hate each other. Even putting aside our fundamental incompatibility, the rest of his bio was so…dull: a compendium of all the things they tell you to avoid on dating sites. I hated it instantly because its unvarnished sincerity, its smiley cheerfulness, was so alien to my own sass and sparkle. I even hated his name. Let’s call him Evan, which is quite as bland and pleasant and devoid of flavour as his government name.

When he began messaging me, I quickly discovered that Evan’s personality was exactly what it says on the tin. He sent long texts asking me about myself and telling me things about him — none of them very revolutionary or interesting. Evan was an engineer, a job I happen to find particularly boring. Evan liked to watch sports. My indifference to sports curdled into active dislike when my ex-boyfriends forced me to watch game after football game.

Evan kept talking, though. And I kept replying. Because there was nothing wrong with Evan. He was a solid dude. Not mean, not pushy, not aggressive, not entitled: a quartet of qualities rarely found on Tinder and for that matter, rarely found in real life. For this reason, I decided to meet Evan.

I was not disappointed. In real life, Evan was every bit as sensible as he had seemed online and every bit as average-seeming. I rolled my eyes a little at how average he was, to be honest.

Things Evan had:

A good relationship with his parents

Moderate contentment with his job

Boring but nice friends

General cheerfulness

A penchant for exercise

Evan also:

Drank, but not too much

Sent texts every morning that read ‘Good morning! How are you?’

Sent texts every evening that read ‘Good evening! How was your day?’

Possessed a good temper

Enjoyed small talk

This list of traits was drastically different from the list of traits I had envisioned in my dream man.

Things My Dream Man Had:

A fascinating personality

Impulsiveness

An ability to change moods quickly

An exciting lifestyle

An exciting job

An aversion to sports

Writing ability/artistic ambitions

Wit

A tendency to be silent

Sardonic charm

A mysterious/unusual past

A fondness for everything I was fond of

A distaste for small talk

Irregular sleeping and eating habits

An ability to keep me guessing

Had never truly loved anyone else

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the man of my dreams isn’t real. I’ve met the man of my dreams, the man who has every single quality on the above list. In fact, I’ve dated the man of my dreams. I’ve dated him several times. Several iterations of that man, actually.

What happened?

A fascinating personality

Impulsiveness ——————- > poor impulse control

An ability to change moods quickly ———————— > a general moodiness I could not help

An exciting lifestyle

An exciting job

An aversion to sports

Writing ability/artistic ambition

Wit

A tendency to be silent———————- > He was uncommunicative and it drove me crazy

Sardonic charm ————————— > He was incapable of enthusiasm untinged by sarcasm

A mysterious/unusual past

A fondness for everything I was fond of

A distaste for small talk————— > A distaste for polite social conventions

Irregular sleeping and eating habits——- > Inconsistency

An ability to keep me guessing ———- > He went days without texting me then texted at 4 AM

Had never truly loved anybody else — > Did not find it easy to love people, including me

The man of my dreams went back and forth on his feelings for me, often throwing out vaguely charming statements like “You could be, maybe you just could be, the girl that’s going to ruin my life.” The man of my dreams never wrote me anything boring. The man of my dreams didn’t understand moderation, and spent his life drinking just a little too much, smoking just a little too much. The man of my dreams was too reckless to get up every morning at 7 AM and commute to his boring but reliable job in the city. The man of my dreams didn’t sleep for days, then showed up at my door because he just HAD to see me in the middle of the night. The man of my dreams jumped on a bus to New York whenever he felt like it. The man of my dreams was always undecided about his future, his present and his past. The man of my dreams didn’t have a relationship with his parents and he didn’t care. The man of my dreams dumped me whenever he felt like, sometimes via text message. The man of my dreams felt no need to let me know when he was going to disappear from my life. This is the problem. The things that I want are not the things that I thought I wanted, the things that we are told we want. I was fundamentally and deeply incompatible with the man of my dreams.

I look at my girlfriends and I see them dating similar men, or — more frequently — “talking to” similar men. My girlfriends are wonderful, sexy, warm women. They’re doing fantastically for themselves, they’re completely sure of what they want in terms of career and family, and then going out and building up that dream every day. Even if they’re not always happy, they are good-tempered, rarely mean. They ask for little. They are not afraid of commitment or love. They’re smart as hell, and keep wondering ‘What am I doing wrong?’ They move mountains to be with whimsical, broody, fascinating dudes who never send boring texts. They move cities and countries and do whatever it takes. They worry they’re unlovable, because the men of their dreams keep saying ‘Sorry, I thought I could do this, but I can’t.’

Evan was not the man of my dreams. He was just a solid dude. And the more I dated him (he called it ‘dates’, always, he never referred to it as ‘hanging out’), the more I began to realize that although he lacked that sharp surface sparkle I sought, he could fulfil all my emotional needs. Evan never once kept me guessing about his own feelings; he never forgot to ask me how I was. What he lacked in intrigue, he made up for in sweetness. He had committed to other women, so he could commit to me. He wasn’t impulsive, which meant he also wasn’t the type to dump me on a whim with no warning. He never said anything vague and beautiful like ‘You could be the girl to ruin my life’, because Evan didn’t trade in vagaries. He was always very sure of his feelings. I know none of this sounds alluring, but if you’re a girl and you’re reading this, you understand how fucking rare it is to meet somebody who is sure of their feelings. Far from being average, Evan was rare.

Yes, we were very different, but I came to enjoy that difference. Evan never made me watch sports with him, or complained when I took ages getting ready. Evan had never taken a selfie in his life, but he called me ‘selfie queen’ affectionately. Evan didn’t hold forth in fascinating soliloquys about how damaged he was emotionally, but he did ask me a lot of dull-seeming questions because he was interested in me; what I did; how I lived. He genuinely enjoyed that I liked to dress up and go out and drink and dance, though he rarely did any of those things. No, he never asked me to go hiking or play tennis or fish with him. He did his thing, and I did mine. He thought I was cool and exciting and full of sparkle and sass, so I FELT that way around him. I didn’t have to try to impress him, because he was never detached or aloof. With him, I felt like an impressive person.

I had always envisioned marrying another writer, and having a Scott-and-Zelda-Fitzgerald life, and to be perfectly honest with you, that still sounds wonderful to me. But I realized I could be perfectly happy marrying a dude who didn’t understand everything I loved, who came home from his boring office job every day and said ‘How was your day, hon?’

Look, I’m not trying to tell you to give every boring dude on Tinder a chance. Nor am I trying to tell you that interesting guys are assholes who will never commit to you. What I am saying is: know what’s truly important to you. Solid dudes are more difficult to come by than dudes with interesting Tinder bios. Dudes who play hot and cold with you, who don’t openly admire and love you are not solid dudes, they’re a fucking waste of time. It happens all the time no matter how special *you* are. Pick up the pieces and keep moving, sis.

What Evan taught me during our time together was that the things I need are consistency, reliability, enthusiasm. I’m not at a stage in my life where I want to move mountains to be some dude’s biggest fan, to shine a little less brightly because he captures all the light in the room. I need to be with a man who says I don’t shine if you don’t shine.

Evan taught me that I was asking all the wrong questions of potential romantic partners. You wake up and you go to your work every day and you soldier on patiently and kindly although it’s just a mediocre 9–5 job? That’s real as fuck. You’re an artist, but you’re in love with the process of making your art and not just in love with the lifestyle? That’s real as fuck. You like things I don’t like, but you give me my space? That’s real as fuck.

Most importantly, are you a solid dude?