Some sketches of recent dates.
* Stephen is the sort of field where you work six miscellaneous jobs to use your creative skills, in addition to your real job as a creative person. He's medium height, maybe on the short side, and stocky, but stocky rather than fat, grew up in a large urban area and came here for grad school and stayed. He has hair. He's funny, interesting to talk with, smart, fun to spend time with, and seems confident about normal life, but has an undercurrent of insecurity. It was pouring rain and at the end of our second date, he paused awkwardly outside my building. The pause was so awkward and our conversation up until then had been so good that I just invited him up rather than get wet. A few more similarly awkward pauses followed at various points, and finally he asked if he could kiss me. If he had just tried to kiss me with anything resembling confidence I probably would have kissed back, but something about his question was so awkward that I couldn't resist turning it into a conversation about why he wanted to kiss me and what it would really mean to kiss someone you'd known for just a few hours in total. He said that he's the kind of guy who has a lot of female friends, and these are the kind of female friends who are just friends, rather than girlfriends and he'd really like to have a girlfriend, and he's afraid if he doesn't kiss someone early on he'll be doomed to having another "just a friend". It was so sad and sweet. I liked him, and he made a comment or two about his weight that he probably thinks that when people don't want to date him it's because of his weight, but it's really just confidence. I know he'll meet someone and have a great relationship even if his confidence doesn't improve.
* Mike is just a regular guy. Grew up in the area and has never lived anywhere else, tall, well-built, older, looks like a J Crew model, charismatic, went to North-East-West-South State University with a major in nothing in particular, has worked various "just a job" jobs, has lots of street smarts and interest in wide variety of unconventional things, and is really interesting to talk to. He is smart, but was noticably slower to pick up on things than I'm used to. I didn't ask what he was like in high school, but I really have the feeling that he was the sort who would have never talked to me unless we were characters in an ABC Afterschool Special, the sort where the star basketball player gets tutored in math and starts to realize his math tutor could be pretty hot if she took off her clothes. Obviously not a match, but he's so charismatic that it took a few dates for me to realize that. I'm a sucker for charisma.
The really big contrast between Mike and Stephen is that Mike did not make even the slightest effort to do more than shake my hand. The contrast made me wonder: do the less charismatic have to try harder, or are people less charismatic because they do try harder?
As much as each of these guys has concrete things that I can name that bugged me, the bottom line was that I had these doubts and arguments in the back of my mind about whether I was a snob for not wanting to date Mike, or all the great things about Stephen and how it would be great to date him even though I had no real interest. Lately I've been seeing someone who I have no such doubts about. I'm sure that things will come up, and I will be relieved when they do since it's a bit eerie right now. Right now it is such smooth sailing that I forgot there could ever be bumps or lulls.