I keep a blog with my partner called One Thousand Dates. It began out of a joke on our second or third time hanging out. “Well, why don’t we start a blog about every date we go on?” “Okay. We’ll call ourselves A and B and it’ll be this weird Internet adventure.” We can’t even remember who said it, but we thought it was hilarious, and here we are. Over 600 dates in the bag.
We get only anonymous comments, mostly questions, and have a hand full of followers. Most of our inquires are about us as individuals, surprisingly. I feel our readers are waiting for that moments when conflict comes; like we’ve become a story they can’t wait to end. Thoughts like this inspire me, in truth or falsehood, because we’re not just a story. We’re two real, living, breathing, loving, inseparable people.
Here’s my response to someone asking us how my partner can love someone like me.
Ok A, I apologize in advance if this is mean, but don’t you have to admit that B is wayyyyy out of your league, looks wise? I’m wondering, what is it about you that shines so brightly that B can see past whatever else and love you for that? Again not trying to be mean, I think you are both great and I love this blog! Just genuinely curious.
I’ve thought about your comment a lot and discussed it with a few friends. The best and simplest response I can give you is that there are no leagues.
In more detail, however…
Reading your comment here is interesting because I was away when it came in. B read me a much different and more subtle version of your comment, likely for fear that my feelings would be hurt. He was gentle and sweet about it, only alluding to him being better looking as you suggest. “This person thinks I am out of your league.” “Out of my league? How?” “Looks wise,” he said. We spoke about this a bit and he asked if I wanted to reply. I do, I told him. We moved onto other things and my sarcastic response of the week became something like, “Did you want to do that or are you out of my league?” So, in humour, I’m not offended by what you’ve asked.
Your tone is full of curiosity which I didn’t originally realize. I like this question because it turned the wheels in my head for many days but by prefacing it with, “I’m not trying to be mean,” you’re giving yourself permission to be mean. It’s like saying, “I don’t mean to racist/offensive/judgemental but…” and then saying something racist/offensive/judgemental. We’re all entitled to opinions and I think it’s important to own them.
How we organize our blog is that we keep a list of things we do and both add our photos from each date to the post. We then each write our versions of the date below the photos, and I usually end up deleting one or more of the photos B uploads because I don’t deem them internet worthy (in that it doesn’t align with the idea of myself that I’ve invented… or more simply put… I think it’s a shitty photo of me). But if there’s only one photo and I think I look awful in it, I keep it anyway, because a photo is better than no photo, in my opinion. “Oh well,” I say. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
I am a control freak about image and the ways in which I build my personal brand online – facebook photos and instagram are passions of mine and I pride this reflection of myself. As an artist and portraitist, this has always been important to me. The internet has forever astounded me in this way; we are, for the most part, in control of our image, and this image can and will shape the world around us. It can and will shape even our own views of ourself. This is why when photos are leaked or posted without our consent, it can destroy a person. The weight of what a photo can do has become currency in our culture.
Earlier this year I decided to let loose the reigns of my image control over this blog, despite them not being too tight to begin with. I didn’t discuss this with B but I consciously decided that I would let photos of me go up that I thought were bad angles, where I was make-upless, or ones I felt insecure about. I was on my iPad laying on our bed and I analyzed one photo for half an hour or so, debating with myself why I should keep it on the blog. What is it that bothers me about this photo? What is it that I’m insecure about? What scares me about sharing this? Why am I so fearful of people seeing this photo? I spent time with myself and I let the photo go up, and I stopped censoring our photos.
B and I want this blog to be a reflection of the small moments in our life as it grows and changes. We want this blog to offer an insight to those fractions in time that a photograph affords. Little glimpses into what our life might actually look like. I didn’t want to censor it for our future selves. It actually was a pretty selfish thought, in that I wanted our future selves to see our life in all sort of light, the good and the not so great.
It’s not at all surprising to me that your comment comes months after this decision. If we edited every photo and angle on this blog, believe me, it would look so incredibly different and better; more appealing, colourful, uniform, unique… You’d probably like reading it more and I’d probably love to share it. Truthfully, while these photos of us go up, speckled with ones I don’t like, I shy away from sharing this blog with anyone that I know. While B is proud of it, talking about it to friends and strangers, I don’t think I’ve ever shared the link with anyone outside my close circle. I don’t think it’s good enough to do so. I’m extremely proud of my relationship with B, but I don’t share this blog because of those random images of myself. Isn’t that sad?
Last week I sat down with a friend I’ve kept since grade 6. I told her about your comment and the first thing she did was laugh in my face and say, “Leagues? There are no leagues!” (She probably wasn’t laughing in my face, but I felt vulnerable.) If this comment was based on images on our blog, she said, well, a photograph only offers a small portion of a bigger picture. A photograph is barely accountable to the reality of your life, she said. I smiled because I agreed with her, and this is exactly why photographs are so incredible.
Without writing to you forever, your comment made me ponder the pressures put on women to always seem put together – from big wig celebrities to, well, me. It made me think about my own insecurities; the reason why I felt vulnerable exploring your comment. It made me think, “Oh my god! Am I ugly?” and then I laughed because I don’t care if people think I’m ugly, or not good enough, or weird looking. Ugly, good enough, and weird looking are all relative terms anyway (and I would only describe myself as weird looking). It made me think about the most scrutinous eye – our own – and how, if we let it, it can take over our lives. Your comment made me think about you, and it made me think about what sort of self-perceptions that would propose a question this like. It made me think about you and about how you can be your best self and how someone – anyone – could fall in love with that.
I think looks are important in that, yes, you need to be attracted to the person you want to spend your life with. But attraction comes with looks AND personality AND humour AND ambition AND more. A relationship cannot survive and thrive on physical appearance, and I would never want to be in one that’s based on this anyway. What B and I have is complicated and sweet. We understand each other on a metaphysical level and, bonus!, we’re attracted to each other physically.
Love and relationships in general are really hard and they’re something you have to work for. You have to compromise. You have to listen. You have to see past what’s on the outside to understand and accept what’s inside. I mean, there’s all sorts of love, but this is the love B and I want to be in and we’re in it for the long haul. And if it all falls to shit, it won’t be because of some shitty photos of me on our dating blog or some league I tried to get in to. 😉