Archive for June, 2009

Stranger danger

200487196-001Hot on the heels of a new study that suggests women aren’t that picky about mate selection after all (see “You’re so picky!” below), comes this news item about a new reality show where women are getting married without even meeting their mates.

Currently in development with Fox, “I Married a Stranger” will feature a gaggle of 30-something single women “frustrated by the dating scene” (spinster alert!) who agree to marry men they’ve never met. Who are these guys? The producers of the show will come up with a half a dozen bachelors as a starting point (dullard alert!), after which the woman’s friends and family will whittle it down to one. In other words, the husbands will be created by committee. Yippee!

Each episode of “I Married a Stranger” will feature a bride-to-be preparing for her “blind wedding” and a finale in which two groom finalists walk down the aisle. But as the show’s creators put it “only one makes it to the altar to reveal himself to his new wife.”

So, what, is the guy going to be wearing the veil?

Oddly enough, this isn’t the only reality show featuring women marrying strangers that’s in the works. CBS has also announced a new reality series called “Arranged Marriage,” in which three women marry three guys sight unseen and, you guessed it, hilarity ensues. According to the CBS website, “’Arranged Marriage’ is a series that brings the tradition of arranged marriages, which is still practiced successfully by many cultures throughout the world, to the U.S., where it is virtually an inconceivable option for most single Americans.”

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. There are tons of other traditions “practiced successfully by many cultures throughout the world” that they could have turned into a reality TV series. Stoning, for instance.

But the whole arranged marriage thing – especially when played out on national TV – just seems creepy.  What happens if they marry somebody off to a psychopath? Is that part of the entertainment? Next up on “I Married a Strangler”: Susie discovers a garotte in Brad’s underwear drawer!

Also, what kind of message does this impart to little kids? Or even big kids? I know reality TV is supposed to be light entertainment and all, but it’s hard to take all this “sanctimony of marriage” talk seriously when shows like this turn it into such a desperate disturbing farce.

Personally, I’d rather tune in to something more honest like “I Slept With a Stranger.” Or as you may know it, Sex and the City.   

You’re so picky!

Women have gotten used to hearing about how “picky” they are, thanks to “well established evolutionary explanations” that point to women as the more discerning sex because of our irksome, responsibility-laden wombs. (Hmmm, should I select the toothless, out-of-work alcoholic with anger issues as the future father of my child or go with the reliable bank vice president with green eyes and a fabulous smile?)

But new research out of Northwestern University suggests that choosiness in mate selection has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with power. According to a story in Science Daily, when researchers assigned women the “traditionally male role” of approaching romantic partners, they were “not any pickier than men in choosing that special someone to date.”

The research, conducted during a speed dating event (a phrase that totally makes me yearn to become a social scientist), featured 350 undergrads who each took turns at the “dominant dater” role. In half the events, the men moved from table to table while the women stayed put. In the other half, women roamed the joint, hopping from date to date. Afterwards, everybody provided info about their various encounters, including their level of romantic interest, whether they’d like to see the person again and how self-confident they felt about the whole she-bang (so speak). And that’s where things got interesting, i.e.,

Regardless of gender, those who rotated experienced greater romantic desire for their partners, compared to those who sat throughout the event. The rotators, compared to the sitters, tended to have a greater interest in seeing their speed-dating partners again.

Associate professor of psychology at Northwestern and co-investigator of the study Eli Finkel explained it thus: “The mere act of physically approaching a potential partner, versus being approached, seemed to increase desire for that partner.” He went on to talk about how “our physical activity and psychological processes interface in ways that are outside our conscious awareness” and emphasized that the results of this study “strongly suggest that the mere act of approaching a potential love interest can boost desire.” 

In other words, sitting around passively waiting for Mr. Right to approach may mean you’ll be stuck in that chair for months (or even years). Walking across the room to chat up some guy, on the other hand, may magically turn him into Mr. Right. Voila! 

Here’s hoping the speed-dating outfits will take note and revamp the whole “ladies in waiting” motif they seem so fond of (sounds like it would produce a lot more happy customers). And that women everywhere will realize that true love may not be so much about pickiness, but about pickups.

What’s my story?

I'm a former freelance writer, now gainfully employed at Fred Hutch (views and f-bombs all my own).

I write about health and health care; cancer research and the cancer experience; dating, lifestyle and singles issues and lots of other stuff including humor and fiction and a few songs here and there.

Book info below.

Looking for my breast cancer blog? Go to doublewhammied

Where are my books?

How to Date in a Post-Dating World A dating manual for the modern, mangled single.

Single State of the Union
Single women speak out on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Fifty Shades of Brains
Sex. Zombies. Really annoying present tense narration.

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June 2009