It’s so easy to assume the worst in people.
That woman who won’t look me in the eye? She thinks she’s too good for me.
That guy who barely grunts two words in response to my compliment? Arrogant asshole.
And that woman who never asks me to dance and just ignores me when I walk past? What a snob!
By assuming the worst, I can always be pleasantly surprised when I’m wrong.
And… I usually am. Both wrong, and pleasantly surprised.
There’s this one woman in the dance world, “Jaya,” who moves with incredible grace and sensuality… always dances with the same few hot guys… and is, unsurprisingly, drop-dead gorgeous.
Doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to pin the “SNOB!” label on her, does it?
Imagine my surprise then, when one of my friends (“Mark”) spoke well of her, and indeed confided in me that he even went on a few dates with her some years back and she was “a total sweetheart.”
Understandably incredulous, I asked Mark how he ever ended up talking with Jaya, much less going out on dates with her.
He lowered his voice, and said with some embarrassment, “Uh… the tele-personals.”
“The tele-what?!?” I said, not believing what I heard. Images of 1-900 sex line late-night ads popped into my head.
Well, the reality of the situation was less raunchy but no less strange. Five years ago, before Internet dating had really taken off, there were apparently actual “personals” lines you could phone up, punch in your stats and preferences, with the goal of meeting one or more single people in your area who’d be compatible to date. San Francisco’s a big place and Mark — a handsome and successful businessman who had just moved to an outside sleepy suburb — was simply not having luck meeting women in bars or anywhere else for that matter.
Okay, so I could understand this guy, despite his fine qualities, hitting the telepersonals in desperation. After all, women are — no matter what the numbers — almost always the ‘hunted’ while we’re the frustrated hunters.
But what about this dream woman? When Jaya could probably get 100 guys to her side with a flick of her eyelashes, what the heck would she be doing on a service featuring down-on-their-luck male suitors?
“She’s shy, Adam. Really, really, really shy” Mark insisted. “She hides it, yeah, I mean, she dresses nice and is a killer dancer. But she’s afraid of rejection, and guys are intimidated by her anyway.”
I was stunned. I always thought Jaya had it all… total cool confidence, everything / everyone her heart desired, and so on.
And here she was, actually scared guyless in the dating world.
Mark also told me about other women he had gotten to know who were — contrary to popular opinion — actually insecure and/or shy and not snots at all. And over the last few weeks, I’ve made my own similar discoveries… learning that many “cold fish” are actually scaredy cats who open up when they get to know someone.
And sometimes all it takes is a random event or issue to bridge the gap.
I played a silly piano medley at a swing dance “talent night” and to my amazement, I got a standing ovation. Even more startling, however, was when one of the ice queens came up to me later, gave me a huge hug and said, “Wow, you are AMAZING!” And she’s been relatively friendly ever since!
This isn’t to say, of course, that I haven’t encountered people who have — quite consistently — proven that they are indeed unrepentant snobs. But strangely, this has turned out to be the exception, not the rule.
Will this change my behavior, prompting me to assume the best in aloof folks, rather than the worst?
It should, yes, but I doubt I’ll change anytime soon. After all, despite my generally optimistic and sunny disposition, it’s just too much of a pleasant surprise being proven wrong in this context, again and again 😀