In the dating world, you encounter diverse types of people and not all of them can be “the one”. For one reason or another, there is something about “The One” that doesn’t fit well with you. In my own encounters, I have met two types of people that have caused me more harm than good. What was weird was that they weren’t even aware of it. To them, they felt like they we’re being a good and supportive partner but in the end, their goals seemed off-base.
The first was “The Helper”. The Helper was a supportive and positive partner. They would help me keep my things organized, keep me on track of my goals and tasks, and make sure that what I did was done at its best. At first glance, The Helper is like someone who came down from the sky to set you on the right path in life. That’s what I felt. After some time, I started to notice some things that slowly became a problem.
First, it was minor things. The daily tasks I accomplished would always seem to be lack-luster if there were a couple things that could be done still. Being who they were, they had an acute way of how things needed to be done every day and after a while, it seemed as if the OCD they operated on was something I was would supposed to adopt. It felt like they were trying to mold me to be like them. After all, when they would help me with my endeavors, they did in the way THEY knew how to and if they thought that was a better way, then I should learn to be like that too.
Later, they’re nitpicky ways manifested further. The control-issues didn’t stop at the trivial operations of daily activities. The life goals that they had set for themselves and whatever standards it required would be standards that would often be out of my range. What that entailed meant the relationship wasn’t as easy as expected and instead, I had to work harder for things that were, in a sense, prerequisites to continue the relationship.
The results of this relationship were that I was going against my own beliefs of what a relationship was. I was sucked into their standards of a relationship and it ended up causing stress for me to the point that it felt like my efforts were never appreciated. It was a hedonistic treadmill at its finest and I wanted to get off a long time ago. Though it felt nice to have someone care about my goals, my goals were used against me and my partner soon felt like my boss. In addition, I would feel like they took some self-gratification for feeling like they were helping someone be on “the right path”.
The second type I dated was “The Exhibitionist”. A big benefit was The Exhibitionist lets you be you and supports you just the way you are. They were fun to be around and it was interesting to see someone take an interest in my culture. In my case, I was raised in a Mexican-American home in a lower-class part of town. With them being from a different world, our relationship was like The Lady and the Tramp story. He was from the finer things in life with a promising job on the way, and I was from the budget-end family making ends-meet but had the academics to meet them in the middle.
There is something that we value in relationships when we can be who we want to be without judgments from our partners. You can be at your very best or worst and they will find the essential things about you that matter the most and that is a different kind of affection. Of course, that affection comes with a price like most things. After a while, you begin to realize why it was a different kind of affection. It just takes looking at it closer.
There were discrete issues that existed in this relationship. Not only was I treated as something that was to be groomed or tamed, the very aspect of my lived experienced was something of a turn-on for them. My poverty and race was fetishized because, to them, I was exotic. They would make references to stereotypes that grew up with or make sly comments about what “my people would do” as if it was endearing. The worst was going out to a semi-formal restaurant and listen to them talk about how I “don’t get to go to these too often”. It wasn’t like features such as my hair, height, or intellect. Instead, the things of attraction were my past and culture as if they were not forced upon me. I did not choose to be raised in “the ghetto” or around a large Mexican family but to them, my past was fetishized like my body.
The results of that relationship were that I felt odd embracing any of my culture and upbringing. Though they thought they were letting me be myself, I couldn’t anymore without it being something of fascination to them. It reduced my race and poverty to a fetish.
These two were not “The One”. What they were though was stepping stones to teaching me what I was comfortable with when I went out into the dating world and helped me identify other problematic encounters before they got too deep. I want people to take away from this blog a way of being in the world when you’re still dating and looking around. Though The Helper and The Exhibitionist seem like a dream come true, more often than not, they’re too good to be true.