The first week of December has come and gone, so that means my final semester of conventional classes has come to an end (for next semester, I’ve signed up to be a student attorney for one of my school’s community legal clinics–please pray for me, my sanity, and my future client(s)). With the end of classes comes studying for finals and that, in turn, means that I’ve come up with increasingly creative ways to distract myself from my work.
One of the principal ways I’ve found effective is listening to podcasts with my new iPhone (yep, a recent convert and loving the seamless integration).
(1) Freakonomics presented a podcast titled, “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating.” Most of the commentary concerned fairly unsurprising observations and findings that have been passed through an economics vocabulary filter. For instance, is anyone surprised that people make certain conclusions about a person’s profile based on their own assumptions and lived experiences (termed statistical discrimination and adverse selection)? Another unsurprising and perhaps unfortunate finding: a comedy writer created a fake profile of a physically attractive, but utterly repugnant, woman who still got over 100 messages in the first 24 hours and, overall, got many more responses compared to her own real profile.
But what I found more interesting than those observations was this quote from contributing economist, Justin Wolfers:
“The Internet has turned matching upside down. It used to be that you would find compatibility first and then learn more about someone else’s attributes. And now you see all the attributes and then you learn about compatibility later.”
For some reason, I felt unsettled when I heard this statement, and I realized, for certain online dating platforms, that this premise holds true. Compared to “dating of old,” in which you’d perhaps meet someone at a bar or you’re introduced to someone by mutual friends, online dating of the OkCupid, eHarmony, or Match.com variety provide you with tremendous amounts of data and information to sift through and make discriminating choices as to potential dates. Is that a good thing? Wolfers seems to think so as an economist–more information could be beneficial to the formation of long-term relationships, though there’s little data or research to support that hypothesis.
But perhaps the wealth of information at our fingertips and the ability to discriminate based on said information robs us of the opportunity to meet people with whom we may be physically and romantically compatible. That chemistry, after all, isn’t necessarily dependent on any magical formula of attributes or physical traits–rather, it’s something that can only be realized when you actually meet with a person. Sure, there may be certain correlations and likelihoods of obtaining that compatibility based on a person’s attributes but what about the one person who may defy those expectations? After all, you only need the one (sorry so cheesy – my romantic tendencies for ya).
(2) I listened to another podcast titled, “I Love You, But There’s This Money Thing…” that presented the cold, unromantic reality that, yes, income, taxes, and the division of wealth plays a role in relationships. There wasn’t necessarily one guiding principle that could be discerned from the highlighted personal stories but two thoughts:
– It does seem that communication may play the most important role. Whatever goes down between two individuals regarding money matters, it certainly does no one any help by secretly harboring negative feelings about the other’s spending habits or hiding one’s expectations when it comes to handling division of expenses.
– The danger of sugar mommas and sugar daddies – There is something certainly appealing to living in the lap of luxury with anything and everything provided to you free of charge. But personally, as I’ve found growing up in my parents’ household, the loss of financial autonomy also robs one of his or her identity and freedom. This quote from a woman who was in a relationship with a very wealthy man puts it best:
“I learned that when everything you have is provided for you by someone, then it’s real easy for everything you are to be provided by that someone. And so when that someone is gone, you’re left wondering who you are. I didn’t know who I was. And I think that’s one of the reasons why it was such a hit on me. Because my identity was so wrapped up in him and that lifestyle, this money that wasn’t mine.”
(3) Thanks to @sapiencespire for sharing this essay about a woman and her marriage to her husband who is a doctor. It sums up the most salient points (both positive and negative) that I’ve observed in my relationship with my boyfriend, a doctor-in-training.
Even though law school is pretty strenuous, medical school seems to be a shade or two more demanding with the on-call shifts, closed book exams, and the myriad of medical terms to memorize (whereas in law school, most of our exams are open book, sometimes open everything, to simulate real-life practice conditions). Because of the demands of medical school and the profession in general, I have definitely felt the strain on our relationship at times. Like the essay points out, it requires a certain level of “sharing” of my boyfriend with strangers, his schooling, and his ambitions. But that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to be with him, someone who is incredibly caring, selfless, and warm to anyone and everyone he meets – especially me 😉
(4) This is my very much delayed response to @gaysianthirdspace‘s post on body image and conformity. Others have already written extensive responses on the topic, so I encourage you to go over to their page to read them.
For me, body image is something I’ve struggled with. Though I identify with the “body positive” movement and the general idea that we should accept ourselves as who we are, I would be lying if I said I didn’t care about my physical appearance. After all, I take measures to watch what I eat, and I exercise on a regular basis.
The way I see it, body image is an incredibly nuanced and personal issue. I firmly believe that the challenges associated with navigating body image in our image-obsessed world is an independent one, and your choices with your own body are your’s entirely and no one else’s. Happiness is an abstract and undefinable concept, but there is no doubt that some outcomes in life are correlated with and connected to the possession of a certain body image or type.
Perhaps, implicitly, there is always an undercurrent of conformity when we take measures for physical upkeep. After all, when we eat healthily or work out, isn’t there a standard to which we are working towards? In the end, maybe the line between pursuing conformity versus bodily autonomy lies with intention. That is, whether we intend, though our efforts, to maintain or work for a certain image or are we attempting to meet a goal of healthy living, healthy self-esteem, or, overall, a healthy and balanced individual. These intentions are personal and can be framed differently, and, of course, you can’t really discern an individual’s true intentions unless you have psychic abilities.
So, I’ll end my brief response with a quote from Mindy Kaling on body image that I think others may resonate with:
“Though I am a generally happy person who feels comfortable in my skin, I do beat myself up because I am influenced by societal pressure to be thin. All the time. I feel it the same way anybody who picks up a magazine and sees Keira Knightley’s elegantly bony shoulder blades poking out of a backless dress does…I feel it when I wake up in the morning and try on every single pair of my jeans and everything looks bad and I just want to go back to sleep. But my secret is: even though I wish I could be thin, and that I could have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don’t wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way more important things.”
Very interesting podcasts from @ro-mantik. Also, thank you for the response to our question regarding body image 🙂