Unfiltered Honesty: Dating - FAQs
This reference is your personal cheat sheet! Its purpose is to present myself without filter, so people may without pressure and at their own comfort and leisure, evaluate whether we're compatible spirits. What follows are a collections of anonymized frequently asked questions I've received and answers which probably describe myself better than any dating profile I've created. Some answers have been modified and are more complete here than as originally posted. If you're wondering, I am perfectly normal, which is exactly why I have a public, oversharing webpage on dating (sorry Seneca, I've, "part[ed] company with our promise", what have I done).
I haven't looked at the google analytics for this page, but I'm assuming most people drop off here.
Who you are
You may be a woman of any ethnicity who might be around 5' to 5'7 and may have a similar atheletic build to myself. You are open minded and comfortable with imperfection, because I am very imperfect and I expect you to be too. You are genuine, true to yourself, and identify as a bit unconventional or non-conformist without going over the top. You are not weirded out by this page, even if it may be a bit much. You may be ambitious but signaling class and material wealth are not your preferences. You may be open to the idea of starting a family without presure to do so. You might identify as culturally religious but don't consider yourself practicing or devout. You are warm, outgoing, active, busy, and are enthusiastic about including others in your plans. You are affectionate, reliable, kind, supportive, and caring. You are looking for a teammate who will support and root for you, respect and cherish you, without robbing you of your individuality or autonomy.
You seek somehow who is chivalrous, respectful, gentle, someone who can cook and is willing to share chores and responsibilities. You are philosophical and intellectual and you enjoy learning. You value education though this needs not be reflected by some pedigree. You preferably don't consume a lot of tv or sports and instead prefer creating memories, art, social value, and experiences. You believe every day could be better with the right partner by your side. You take trust and confidence very seriously and want to be with someone who has high emotional intelligence and understands how to safeguard your comfort. You are honest amd faithful and expect the same from your partner. You're not afraid to be naked with friends in a sauna. You're open to camping beneath the stars. You're open about your feelings.
Some people love dating. Some people treat dating very seriously, like a job. Some people want to find a partner as quickly as possible or weed out candidates. Some people wear their best clothes, change who they are, and participate in "performative dance" to impress their suitors. Some people treat dating like interviews. Some people go to special places on dates that they wouldn't normally go.
I've traditionally felt incredibly reluctant to date; the formal, performative process of dating is one I truly lament. It's so much nicer to casually meet people as friends without pretense or preconceived expectation. I hate what society portrays dating as. And how people behave in response to this perception.
I just want to live my normal life and be my abnormal self. I just want to find someone else who is living their own life and is their own abnormal self. I just want to find a friend who shares similar goals and values, feels comfortable with me, and I with them, and eventually blossom love with them if it's meant to be. I don't want to go on dates, say that I'm on a date. I don't want anyone to engage in a formal process where people dress up strangely or feel nervous. I just want to create a low-pressure opportunity for possible friends to join in common interest, to venture into streams of life; for it to be natural and for us to be on the same wave-length.
I think many dislike job interviews for similar reasons. These processes may be optimized for outcomes, but they feel optimized for the wrong outcomes and self-defeating. Galen recently recommended, "Reinventing Organizations" (sorry, side-rant) and it describes two types of orgs which emerged to solve different problems. An "Orange" class of org which is quite capitalistic and targets and motivates performance towards specific OKRs (not always the right ones) and "Green" orgs, which prioritize sustainability and mission. I see parallels here in relationships and the idea of treating relationship-building as an outcome feels to me as an "Observer Problem" where the act of participating undermines or conspires against the metric. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Brian Christian's, "Algorithms to Live By". I think there's a lot of wisdom in evaluating how much time we're spending doing things. But I also see a risk in prematurely automating away the "real work" of getting to know people. I think we get what we measure. Which is why my daily spreadsheet is intentionally a manual process (which requires -- and whose purpose is to motivate -- introspection). The way I've started to think about relationships is, forget dating, just meet lots of interesting people who I'm be satisfied being friends with. This also encourages a selection bias. The number one thing I select for if I chat with someone on a dating app has become, "are they going to think about this or treat this as a date". If it seems like they won't, even though this is quite antithetical to some objective like finding a partner, whatever, great, that's what feels most comfortable and there's nothing wrong with being true to oneself. Unless the strategy fails to meet one's needs, and then I encourage myself to evolve and learn over time.
Why Date? On Tribe & Chosen Family
My nature is one of dedication to others and I believe in the compounding power of investing in people. I've spent much of my adult life living in intentional community houses with people who felt like family. With time, often time these families evolve and drift. It would be nice to eventually find a more permanent tribe/family that I can invest in for a long term. Context switching is expensive and having friends move away doesn't feel amazing. I really like teaching, being on people's teams, listening, building, performing acts of kindness and service, showing people appreciation and affection. I believe that helping the people around me really will make my life better; not just because it makes me feel better, but because it truly is a way of creating non-zero-sum value. Humans have the opportunity to be the real perpetual energy machine. One reason I'm trying to date is because of weary of my family moving on and I want to find someone who I can invest into and grow with.
My happy place for exercise is rock climbing / bouldering. I prefer bouldering over rope climbing because I get to control when I start an end a route (when I feel inspired). I can stop exactly when I feel tired. It's easier to sit and socialize with other people. I don't enjoy the stress of, gear required, or downtime involved in belaying for people. I prefer climbing inside to outside, because (a) outside requires more gear, (b) may require much higher time-commitment, (c) feels harder on the hands (my tendons are already messed up from 8+ years of climbing). I also enjoy long walks or hikes where my attention can either focus or relax, but in either case not be ravaged by aggressive car traffic :P. I enjoy racuqet sports (tennis, ping pong, badminton) and kayaking. I am a runner, dancer, or rope climber only when someone I love needs to me to be.
I don't presently especially like watching sports. My childhood consisted of playing lots of sports, from stints of swimming, baseball, and basketball (even though I was comically short), backyard football, ping pong, and most prominently twenty years of tennis. I'd go with my mother's parents to UPenn college football games. I'd go to watch Pilot Pen tennis tournaments in connecticut, ocassionally my father would get tickets through work to go to a Yankees or Red Sox baseball game with me, or a Hartford Whalers or Boston Bruins game (even though I was a NY Rangers hockey fan -- I once met Brian Leetch's mom at my local super market in Cheshire and she randomly gave me a photo with his signed autograph because I was wearing a Mark Messier jersey). Recently, I'll go with my cousin Denis to a SF Giants game since he loves baseball. I do enjoy watching people climb at the gym, but I am more a fan-boy of semi-pros that I can still climb + socialize with (like Anson Whitmer and Austin Lee) than international all-stars. Partially, I just like participating in sports, partially I have other things I prefer doing than watching sports, and partially Noam Chomsky convinced me to ruin sports for myself with this essay. I also trend away from being star-struck. I appreciate when people are outstanding at what they do, I find myself inspired and in awe of their abilities; I just don't typically actively seek out their affiliation out of fandom. If we happen to cross paths or become acquainted or there is an opportunity to learn from them, that's a unique gift. Even as a rock climber of ~10 years I don't know most of the major names in the sport.
For the reasons above in On Sports, I'm nervous about the winter and staying active because I have a hard time being "out" going; I'm not a huge fan of the activation energy and copious amounts of gear required to do anything (and then still be cold). Hypothetically, I enjoy snow shoeing and cross country skiing, but not enough to buy gear.
On Sauna Philosophy
I used to rock climb at Mission Cliffs almost every day for ~seven years. Most days, after my climbing session, I will go into the sauna and courteously inquiry to those present whether they might prefer "sauana silence or sauna philosophy". I'd then ask if there was a major question on anyone's mind that they wished to discuss or would share one that was on my mind. Here's a list of few previous sauna philosophy questions. Sometimes after the sauna session, I'd explore the topic further in writing, like in this example. During sauna philosophy, I don't typically wear glasses and quite literally have difficulty making out the face of the person next to me. I often rely on voices.
Curious about my biggest sauna philosophy fail? During one fateful sauna philosophy session, I was reflecting about a Richard Feynman interview where he explores what it means to know something versus know about something. As an exercise, I had been inspired by some friends early that week to try to add the phrase "whatever that means" to the end of thoughts I was having, as an opportunity and invitation to explore further. While in the sauna, the thought that entered my head was, "it's hot in here" -- to which I added "whatever that means" and began my reflections and meditations. At some level, I posited, if we dig deep enough, even things we believe we know well might be reduced to something we (and maybe noone else) understand. For instance, what is heat exactly and how does it work? When water is put on hot rocks, what is happening? What does it mean for water or rocks to store heat? Presumably the rock is hotter than the water (whatever that means), and breaks the water's covalent bonds (whatever that means), releasing hydrogen and oxygen which rise.
Likely having heard enough (I'd like to believe he sighed before leaving) the person sitting next to me got up and left. Shortly after, another in attendance said, "hey, wasn't that Adam Savage from Myth Busters?", to which two others in attendance nodded in confirmation. And so this details the time I made an absolute fool of myself philosophizing about basic science next to the myth busters dude who likely perceived I was being even more of an insuffurable showoff than, granted, I probably am. Honestly felt pretty bad and embarassing but I mostly I feel ashamed that/if I ruined his sauna session and wish I could have discretely apologized.
I am a functional minimalist and have few (but not too few) belongings. Most my things can fit into a single suitcase and backpack. Keeping things clean and organized is thus pretty easy for me. I try to make my bed, clean dishes immediately after I use them (usually even before eating), and generally leave a room in better shape than I found it. I like making people feel comfortable so I try to wear presentable and modest business-casual clothes. I no longer own a suit or costumes and don't especially enjoy activities which require dressing up in novel or formal wear (fine dining, galas, weddings, costume parties) though I am willing to do so out of respect for those around me. I enjoy being myself, living simply and practically, and living within my means. Spending money on a wardrobe and cosmetics doesn't bring me joy and others expecting me to spend conspicuously makes me feel guilty and like I am violating my values.
"It's funny how much of you is still private. Do you find it easy to share private things (depression, sexuality, kinks) with people irl[*]?"
I think it's only funny how much of me is private if I were to insist (based on hubris, pretense, or consistency principle -- because so much of me is public) that there is ntohing I value keeping private. My leaning towards being public in ways which may help myself and others is not something I experience as inconsistent from wanting to also protect myself and others from certain information asymmetry or at the expense of opportunities to grow mutual trust.
I am happy for my openness to be challenged/interrogated/questioned. I invite all questions, and appreciate being able to answer openly and honestly; I also feel no obligation on principle to share.
I find depression fairly easy to talk about. There are times it's appropriate to be more selective and conservative with what one shared, not of fear of being vulnerable, but rather because some situations call for someone who can demonstrate a strong constitution. Life is a balancing act and in order to best serve those around us who we care about, it requires being in touch with one's feelings, being vulnerable, and sensitive, as it also demands one be demonstratably reliable, capable, and relatable.
On Board Games & Improv
[*] To me, everything is IRL. I think this is one reason I tend to like board games less than others; I don't like contriving simulated situations to lie or collude, to treat people differently, or be a version of myself that doesn't feel right. To me, my job/work feels like a game. I get to program things I'm passionate about into existence with others I like, for people I enjoy helping. Time being finite, I prefer work games to board games.
When I do roleplay, I prefer doing so through my writing. I do enjoy improv, however, creating moments of spontaneous joy, laughter, and exploring parts of myself in the company of those who I believe care and understand me enough to welcome and protect this of me. I don't particularly like costumes (including wearing clothing which advertises things I don't believe in, a rare exception being the ocassional sentimental gift, which I typically kindly decline).
On Monogamy v. Polyamory
I'm comfortable with people who are polyamorous and support their life choices. I kind of get it, it's complicated but I see how it can work (especially for smart people who like challenges and wish to spend their time managing complex relationships). It's not my end game. I don't want my partner to have any doubt about my love for them. I want them to know fully that they come first to me and that no one else is even in the picture of consideration. And if or when I have children, I would want them to know the same thing, that unconditionally and without question, all my resources, all of my love will go first towards their upbringing and the world they unchoosingly inherit.
On Marriage, Having Kids & Adoption
As Aaron Swartz once said, "[I take the attitude that] everything you've learned is just provisional, that it's always open to recantation, refutation, or questioning". If I met the right person, I may be willing to compromise on what our relationship looks like. For many years (until I was 25 or so) I was unenamored by the idea of having children. When I was a child, I felt burned and angsty about the idea of being forced on this earth without having been consulted. But as I've gotten older and experienced things painful and wrong about the world, I believe in my values, my affinity to care, and ability to nurture and raise children with love, respect, knowledge, dignity, passion, and compassion -- qualities which I'd hope they'd share with the world. While it's pretentious and reeks of hubris that I could accomplish all this, if I have complaints about the world being unkind and unfair, trying to upbringing compassionate, educated children is a small way I can fight for a more equitable future. I think the feeling and quality of being related by blood and genetics is special and significant and is a connection I'd really value with my children. But if I met the right person, they wanted to adopt, and that's what we decided, I would love my children equally and unconditionally without doubt or question.
I didn't go to prom in high school and I don't regret it. I had a bar mitzvah and predominantly regret it. I think the idea of having an expensive wedding is kind of silly. I love the excuse of getting family and friends together and celebrating love with them creatively. I concede that Weddings are as much for others as it is for ourselves and if we love others I shouldn't so quickly or carelessly rob them of their joys. But, I don't really like being celebrated. Just as I don't like dating, I don't like formal celebrations whose impetus is more tradition than volition. I'd rather invest funds in a house/family/education than an expensive traditional wedding. But the bottom line is, I want my partner to be happy and so I'll participate with enthusiasm if that's what's important to them.
I am a fairly areligious, agnostic, atheist cultural Jew. The closest thing to practicing religion is doing passover or chanukah with family as an excuse to get together. I do recognize (and did so very late) that Jews don't exactly get to choose whether the world sees them as Jews or not. If you're born Jewish, the world identifies you as a Jew and I've personally experienced antisemitism (e.g. getting beaten up for no reason other than being Jewish). As a result, if I have children, as a matter of cultural education and self-preservation, I'd want them to have basic education of their cultural heritage. Not to the exclusion of anything my partner wishes to teach them. Ultimately I feel people should being given the means to obtain a range of context and perspectives and then choose their own path. I think if would be a problem if I ended up with someone very religiously Jewish (or very religiously anything). I don't want to feel obligated for religion to be a big part of my life, other than the ways culturally I am either empathetic towards or obligated. For instance, I like the broad notion of shabbat (i.e. family and friends eating together on Friday nights). And I appreciate that Judaism encourages people to question and pursue education. I think the history of the Jews is interesting insofar as I think all history is important and interesting, but I am not interested in scripture.
On Being Outgoing
I'm very outgoing for those around me. This whole document is a testament to my dedication to trying hard for others. I like to cook and clean for others and be there for them when they need me. By nature, I am however, not naturally outgoing from the perspective of "going out". I don't love planning dates, going to fancy restaurants, driving for hours, visiting people in other towns. I'm happy to do all these things for people I care about, especially when I have someone to go with, but it takes a lot of energy. There are many things in life I have strong opinions about and want to be involved in decision making (e.g. moral imperatives) but often times I am very satisfied being in the company of someone I love and letting them propose the activities, foods, tripe that they're excited about. And I'm very happy to share the work.
In my free time, I like language learning. I'm currently learning chinese 因為我很喜歡中文的文化. I also like playing guitar and recording music. I like cooking for other people and I am an avid indoor rock climber (bouldering). I enjoy reading non-fiction literature, watching educational lectures, and I really enjoy writing essays and discussing philosophy with friends. I like hosting house dinners and going for long walks, hikes, or cycling. I also really enjoy my work and often work on projects & prototypes in my free time..
What is your idea of a good date?Disclaimer: I'm not a big drinker. So I'm not enthralled with the idea of fancy sit down restaurants or bars for "dates". It feels performative like being on a reality show interview. I'm also not a big fan of movie theaters because it perpetually distracts and detracts from conversation. I don't like bars because I want me and my date to behave like ourselves and not hide behind inhebriation. For similar reasons as bars and movies, not a big fan of comedy for not-a-dates.
I'm almost always down for the following activities:
- Gym rock climbing @ Brooklyn Boulders, Somerville (specifically bouldering, not rope climbing) -- I go almost every evening ~7p + I get free passes for 1st time climbers!
- Walking around the MFA or other art studios/galleries -- I have a MFA membership and am happy to meet + treat you any weekend!
- Meeting at a cafe (FORGE, 1369 Cafe, 3 Little Figs) -- Any morning before 11a or weekends.
- Cooking food together, hotpot, pizza (alone or w/ a themed symposium group) -- especially Fridays nights.
- Jamming / Playing music together
- Playing tennis, ping pong, or badminton
- Going Kayaking
- Browsing a Library or bookstore
- Going for a long walk around a city, park, or hike a trail (e.g. Fresh Pond? Blue Hills?), sculpture garden, botanical garden + picnics
- Riding bikes on a trail (I don't have a bike on the easy coast yet)
- Fruit picking
- Could also be convinced to axe throw, bowl, go ice skating, and more! Wow!
Sky diving pictures, exceedingly fancy attire, exceedingly fancy restaurants, skimpy bathing suit pictures or staged photos (high fashion dress in a national park?) instagram links, posing with glasses of alcohol, die-hard sports fans, additions to suffer-fest type 2 activities (especially in the cold), music festivals, talk about reality tv, excessive tattoos.
On Fine Dining
- I don't get proportionate enjoyment out of the experience for the cost
- I feel guilty as there are more philanthropic ways I prefer spending money
- The class signaling of the experience feels uncomfortable
I'm not morally opposed to the idea of drugs and I'm not a saint; I just prefer being in a state of mind where I'm able to help those around me.
Flaws & Shortcomings
I have a lot of these.
- I have loss aversion
- I am insecure about my abilities and fear letting people down (see  loss aversion)
- I tend to prefer executing incrementally on projects ("make things possible before perfect") rather than doting on research because I'm insecure about  my intelligence and anxious whether I'll be able to finish in a reasonable amount of time if I research a solution which is too hard.
- I like to complete things when they're top of mind (backstory, starting things, losing track ADD)
I like singing with people and playing music together. In 2017 I immediately answered: if I could clone myself and he could only do one thing, we'd sign and harmonize with each other. Here's some music I really like.
I enjoy cuddling, I'm very affectionate, I like holding hands and snugling. More than affection, I care about others I'm with feeling comfortable, safe, and secure, and happy. Affection at someone else's expense is not affection.
As noted by someone in On Being Public & Private I don't write often about sexuality, perhaps because like many men, I am conditioned by prevailing narratives to feel self conscious, to question my adequancy, and otherwise it's generally an area where I don't feel I have much to teach others. Neither would I feel comfortable being someone who brags on the topic as I worry it risks perpetuating insecurity for others.
On a personal level, so much of my identity and sense of personal value/worth comes from doing for others; so to me, expectation and performative pressure to conflate one's personal worth with their ability to satisfy others can at times feel more stressful than enjoyable, when not discussed or experienced with people whom I share trust, comfort, and understanding. Sex is great, would recommend. I've just become thoughtful and selective about who I like to have sex with because, to me a bad trip can feel like being between a rock-and-the-hard-place of either feeling too selfish (which is a feeling I hate; I don't like taking pleasure when it's at the expense of another), uncomfortable if it's not someone I intimately respect or whom I am not attracted, or anxious about how comfortable or good my partner is feeling.
There's also a part of me which recognizes the selfish persuance of satisfying my own needs as a possible vector for my exploitation, distortion/manipulation, and distraction away from other things I care about. While this narrative, which Benjamin Franklin aspires and others profess, may not be one I pay much credence, I still appreciate, from a "do as I say, not as I do" sentiment, (as its sentiment caresses several virtues; temperance, tranquility, moderation, justice, sincerity) the wisdom in:
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Thanks for visiting and accepting me as I am. I appreciate you reading.