rantsalamode's July 29th post about being a Smart Girl has got me thinking. Obviously each Smart Girl is going to have an individualized list of what she wants in a relationship. I know my current choice originally caused most of my family members to go "WTF?!"
Why? Well apparently it was very shocking that a middle-class, white, Queen's student would be interested in a relationship with a black (technically mixed, but passing ain't gonna work for him) guy, who has a working class background. After all, I'm blonde haired, blue-eyed, going to university and have every opportunity in the world in front of me. Shouldn't I be with a future doctor, or lawyer? Or at the very least an academic? What would I talk about with someone who has a lower class status than my family? What I would talk about with someone who has less education with me? Certainly these aspects of how we define ourselves are very important in our current society and by ignoring them and choosing a "bad" match, I was setting myself up for failure (one family member went so far as to suggest that I was only with him to "rebel" and had no serious intentions whatsoever). It seems that despite the widespread knowledge about sexism and racism, classism is still largely ignored, and is commonly practiced and encouraged.
But the thing is, for the first 2 and a half years of university I was, for the most part, single. Sure I went out on dates, there was the odd guy I'd go out with for a few weeks, there were several guys who I had casual relationships with that I personally had no interest in turning into "real relationships," but there was no man that I really cared about (except for my male friends -- most of whom were either gay or bi). I had fun -- lots of fun. It wasn't that I wasn't looking for a relationship, but my own personal philosophy is that when the right guy comes a long, I'll get serious. Until then, I'm going to have fun, and I'm going to get what I want out of the relationship. That means if I hang out with a guy, and the physical attraction or chemistry isn't there for me, it's going to be a friends only relationship (and if he's not up for that, fine, move along, carry on please). If I meet a guy who I am attracted to, and we spend some time together and he has some type of irritating flaw (self-absorbed, delusional, arrogant . . . generally along those lines), the only way things can progress for me is on a very casual level. Admittedly, in those circumstances, I'm going to be a lot more interested in the physical aspect of the casual relationship than the emotional. But the thing is, I believe that very few people (if any?) can fulfill all of my needs. So if I have friends for emotional support and stimulating discussions, then I have no problem or shame in getting physical satisfaction from a guy (even if my only attraction to that guy is physical, and have no use for him in other realms of my life).
So why I am involved with my current guy? Why bother going against the classist believes that some of my family members held? Wouldn't it have been easier to keep things more casual with him, and then move along and find someone more "suitable" (translation: someone with a higher socio-economic level, with more post-secondary education, and more white)? What does my boyfriend provide me with that most of the University Boys didn't (other than great sex, but that's a whole 'nother rant :-)? On some level, I can't even describe it, but I am comfortable with him. I don't have to put on airs, or hold back comments, or pretend to be someone I'm not. He makes me laugh, doesn't judge, is supportive of my goals AND is trustworthy (a very important trait for me; I'm a competitive person, and if I think a guy is playing games with me, you better believe I'm going to play games right back at him and give him a [bigger] dose of his own medicine). Reading might not be his favourite activity (he'd much rather be fixing or building something), but he doesn't make fun of me for the nerdy side of my personality. And no, I can't start up a debate about patriarchal ideologies or resistance in post-colonial literature. But you know what? If I work on explaining "academic" concepts in "layman's" terms, he does have a lot to say. Besides, it's not like I can do an oil change, replace my car battery, or build a make-up vanity the way he can (let's be serious, even when he TRIES to explain simple 'fix-it' tasks to me in easy terms, I am still a lost cause). AND he has an open mind. I know a lot of University Boys who would be embarrassing to take to a queer film festival and watch a film about transsexuality, yet he took it all in stride. AND it lead to later discussions about Stewie's gender identity when watching Family Guy.
Not every guy that's right for us comes in the package that we're expecting. Not every girl is going to be looking for the same package. Hell, what we're looking for is going to very much depend on our background and our present circumstances and what type of support we require right now. And as we all know, circumstances change, and I'm a big believer that relationships will inevitably have to change too (whether the change means grow stronger or fall apart depends on both parties and the situation). But that's life, and sometimes what a Smart Girl is looking for, comes in a different package then what everyone expects.