Dating – the Triumph of Optimism Over Experience

Our start wasn’t exactly rousing, but there was some energy in the room.  Allison, my blind date or as my friend, who tends to date zygotes because of the comparative ease called her “my latest reason to tell a story at the bar,” and I acquitted ourselves well by reaching the one hour mark of a blind date before we had approached the quintessential DC question –  “what do you do?” It was a place we found organically in conversation.  When she said cryptically “I work on The Hill,” wattage was lowered by her obfuscating tone and I should have moved to another topic.

Due to an exceedingly high degree of political dorkdom, I enquired further until learning that she is “senior staff for [redacted name of one of the most conservative Senators.]”

“Do you find yourself politically aligned with your boss?” I asked without judgment.

“You’re a liberal aren’t you?  This happens to me all the time in this city – I meet someone, things are kinda going well and then we have the inevitable political conversation.  Suddenly what was going OK goes to hell in a hand basket because he’s on the left and I’m on the right.”

There was more venom in her words and tone than I had expected, especially considering that I thought the evening was still salvageable.  I tried to deflect – “So you mentioned that you’re thinking about moving Uptown; what areas are you considering?”

That dodge worked for a minute or three before Allison coolly stated “So what’s your problem with my boss?”

“I am not going to pretend that politics aren’t important to me.  I’m not going to sit here and suggest that whomever my ideal partner might be she wouldn’t lean more towards the left, but I don’t think that we need to have this conversation. I’m suspecting that we have some differences and they’re substantive in both of our minds.  Why don’t we change the subject… or call it a night.”

As much as I am always eager for a principled and civil political debate (stop laughing, I know who you are,) I wasn’t looking for one this night.

“Since you’ve obviously decided this is going nowhere, why not tell me the problems you have with my boss?” Allison asked again.

There were a couple of more attempts to change the subject, and a couple more insistences from her, until I eventually sacrifice optimism and respond:

“I could get into the hypocrisy of his lip service to smaller government, or his opposition to gay rights a.k.a. civil rights, or his insane opposition to health care reform when his state is in possession of some of the worst health outcomes in the union, but really if you need any other reason than the fact that he believes that people with penis’ have business telling people with vaginas what to do with them, then you’re really correct – we have nothing to discuss.”

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21 Responses to Dating – the Triumph of Optimism Over Experience

  1. citygirlblogs says:

    May I say that I’m so happy that you sacrificed optimism? The last paragraph was brilliant (and not that surprisingly, aligned with my personal and political views). Three cheers for Refugee!

    Thanks, but I want to be clear – it was her tone not her divergent point of view that made it impossible to continue.

  2. anOCgirl says:

    oh snap! someone got told.

    i think it’s awesome when a guy stands up for women’s rights

    I don’t think it was really a snapping kind of moment as it played in live action, but I am always willing to have that conversation.

  3. lacochran says:

    It’s expensive to keep cleaning drinks out of those fancy suits, isn’t it?

    Carville’s getting some and you don’t see him complaining.

    Seriously, she was itching for a fight.

    I’ve never had a drink thrown at me (though I think that the world would be a better place if women still did that – not that I have deserved it.) I could site the Southern Belle Attorney with whom I was smitten the following night as evidence of the fact that I am happy to date people with whom I have disagreements. Too bad she wasn’t as available as I thought.

  4. I think the fact that she couldn’t allow the conversation, whatever it may be, to be steered in a more pleasant direction just shows that she’s rude. You would think a politico might have more tact. What a shame. (And no wonder she’s single.)

    I won’t do the “no wonder she’s single” thing because it paints her ample admiral qualities in a poor light (though I guess I should admit that as my fault because I held the brush.) But, yes, the inability to change a subject is problematic in my mind.

  5. k8 says:

    Why this made me laugh, I have no idea. Why people insist on discussion politics when the other person clearly does not want to get into it is beyond me.

    I date to entertain my friends I suppose.

  6. Christina says:

    The fact that she did not take your polite and respectful warning to not discuss politics, was the major sign. If she can’t respect the boundaries then she can’t respect you.

    I can only imagine how often politics comes up in DC. I suspect that it is only days that end in “y”.

    I really love talking politics – it was just her venomous way of saying “liberal” and every word that followed that indicated that she was not one with whom I could have a civilized discussion.

  7. shine says:

    Oh, dating, how I love thee.

    You know, it’s weird, but as a liberal person in Texas, I pretty much avoid all conversations about politics like the PLAGUE. Since I will inevitably be yelled at. But I’ve never considered the implications of living somewhere as political as DC and trying to date. At least she didn’t lick your face?

    I don’t know where civility has gone, but that is the problem more than the stated problems.

  8. Kevin says:

    I really wasn’t laughing…too hard. You know what the funny thing is? I once got this going the other way: I wasn’t liberal enough for a woman I was dating (a labor lawyer with an undergrad women’s studies degree). Things were going just fine (on the third date) until she asked me “What was the last protest you went to?”

    “Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!”

    Yeah, there’s no good answer to that question when you’re a moderate. My answer of “Never been to one,” didn’t go over well.

    Incivility cuts both ways… sadly. Although I am sure that even moderates have issues that could raise one’s passion to protest something.

  9. Titania says:

    I must confess I wouldn’t be able to date a republican. I have tried, once, with the goal of trying to understand the way they think (kind of an experiment). I failed utterly. I need to date someone with whom I share my right to choose, and basically the respect to civil rights.

    I don’t think that republican and pro-choice/civil rights are mutually exclusive positions. It might be a rare find – kind of like a bottle of 92′ Screaming Eagle. Rare, over-priced, but available if you look hard enough and can afford it.

  10. Jamie says:

    I used to avoid the topic political orientation with people I dated. But once I realized that it mattered to me, that I really couldn’t get that far in a relationship with someone whom I was diametrically opposed on certain fundamental issues, I stopped thinking that way. Better to get the basics out of the way up front.

    That said, I’m not really on your side on this one. You were the one who pushed the issue of what she did on the hill [which is almost the same as asking her her political alignment] when she did not volunteer that information. Then, you were the one who straight up asked her what her politics were when she told you who she worked for.

    So you basically force her into a conversation about her political alignment, which clearly made her uncomfortable since she was trying to avoid it. Then you’re upset because she had a pointed response, and won’t let you change the subject?

    Ummm…

    I understand your perspective, however I don’t think I forced her into a conversation about anything. When some is “fascinated by what you do for a living” and asks enough questions to fully understand it, it is a bit conversationally unrealistic to think that “I work on The Hill” wouldn’t elicit follow-up questions. At that point, I asked the question that unleashed her presumptive response about me being a liberal.

    I’ve dated across party lines before, and have no problems having civil discussions with those with whom I disagree. It was her tone not her politics that led me to think changing the subject was the better course of action.

  11. Vie says:

    Damn. It’s not hard to imagine what led her to be bitter, but when you when you’re at a point where that inevitably takes over and you refuse to acquiesce to someone’s desire to have a polite or pleasant evening, it’s probably time to take a hiatus (though truth be told, I’m not predisposed to feel that sorry for her). Bitterness doesn’t look good on anyone, and if she’s someone who doesn’t know that there’s more to life than [bad] politics, than clearly it’s not meant to be.

    Kevin, who commented earlier, illustrated the type of incivility from the left that most likely inspired her bitterness, although I find incivility has no excuse when displayed preemptively.

  12. LizInDC says:

    I’m agreeing with everyone whose saying it was classless that she didn’t let it go. I’m a Republican and I hate it when people push the “political” questions about who/what/where/when/why I believe what I do- it’s like asking why I’m Catholic or why I’m pro-choice or why I have a fear of dark spaces. They’re personal boundaries and you were trying to be tactful, avoid an argument, and keep her claws from digging into your beliefs. Too bad it happens so often in this city. I think this is part of my growing disenchantment with DC.

    I get that position, but for me, the easy ability to have well reasoned political and philosophical conversations with a bunch of people who are passionate about the subjects is a great asset to my enjoyment of the city… my interaction with Allison not withstanding.

  13. kate.d. says:

    hmmm, yeah, while you did raise the subject to the extent that the probable difference of opinion became clear, that was no real reason for her to sabotage the rest of the evening. even if the fact that you are A Dirty Liberal meant that she saw no potential beyond that evening, why torpedo what could still be an enjoyable few hours over drinks talking about something else?

    that’s pretty hardcore. then again, most conservatives i know have “hardcore” as a middle name…

    She presumed my status as A Dirty Liberal, the question might have had 10% implication, but her assumption was 90% her inference.

  14. Ahh, this post reminds me of one thing I certainly DON’T miss about the D.C. dating scene…

    This post also makes me think of a bigger question: if today’s two-party system has cattled us into value voting masses, whether for the left or for the right—and, let’s face it, it has—then can you ever keep politics out of dating?

    Or, hell, just out of the first date. Let’s start small here.

    If one works in politics, how is it possible to keep it out of a date, even a first date? That would be like me trying to keep the subject of food away from a date.

  15. Alice says:

    personally, i think the ’92 Screaming Eagle is a myth 😉 it seems that peoples’ reasons for being republican / conservative tend to be exactly the reasons i’d have a hard time dating them. be civil to them? absolutely. be friends with them? sure. but dating is different: after trying both sides of the aisle, i really think my partner – with whom i’d be potentially raising children – needs to be aligned with my beliefs and my values. i’ve yet to meet a conservative who meets that criteria 😛

    I’ve had both the literal and metaphorical Screaming Eagle in my past. Neither was worth the effort required to attain them.

  16. A says:

    Especially these days, where being a Republican (or a Conservative in Canada) means swallowing a lot of “socially conservative” “values” (extra quotations absolutely necessary), I think I view aligning oneself to those party lines as a character flaw. I won’t have someone in my life or home who can’t respect the basic rights of my loved ones.

    I completely agree with you. For me, if someone doesn’t share the core values of choice and civil rights, other things won’t matter. However, I also think that there are a few people who believe in those things and also believe in smaller government, anti-tax, anti-regulation, blah, blah, blah Republican Party Platform.

  17. kitty says:

    amen. how did she respond to that?

    She thanked me for my candor and the drinks, grabbed her bag, shook my hand and left. She was a lady about things.

  18. kitty says:

    perfect. love it, love the stories. upon the second reading of this post and the comments that followed, i should say it it rather impressive that the “what do you do” took an hour to come up!

    I do make an effort to avoid it… it’s even better when no effort is required.

  19. f.B says:

    Jesus. Your question was obviously suggestive. But it’s not like you asked her if she drives those horrendous trucks with completely unacceptable images plastered all over them around town.

    Having been accused (on more than one occasion) of “dressing like a republican” that question could have also been interpreted in a converse fashion. Either way, it all comes back to the incivility of her diatribe.

  20. Kristen says:

    Love this. I just find that I absolutely cannot talk politics with someone who is that conservative. It tends to be against everything I believe. And to push the issue when there was a clear attempt to move past it, well that was just dumb.

    I have no idea how conservative she actually is; She asked about my problems with her hypocritical, bought and paid for, bad tipping, Poindexter of a boss.

  21. Nancy says:

    Love the conversation. In my dating experience, it was not the political alignment as much as it was the ability to reason and appreciate the reasoning of others. The truly rabid of either side too often lost that ability. So I focused not on politics but on persons who could hold an intelligent conversation and appreciate the logic. That being said I have “converted” more than one Republican over the years when they realized their party line didn’t make sense. They began to look at the individual issues and arguments, not just swallowing the party blather without question. The issue of civility is not bound by the political affiliation as much as it is the reasoning of the human being who possess it. Too bad she did not possess the same in all aspects of her life – not simply the grace with which she ended the evening.

    In fairness to her, I suspect that this was a momentary losing of her shit that was precipitated by what she perceived was another in a string of unfairly ended flirtation. Sure, that is a kind reading of things, but I would set pretty decent odds that it was the case.

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