Dating & ‘The Big Lebowski’ Factor

“That rug really tied the room together.” -The Dude

Dating is the worst. I once compiled a list of relatively terrible things that are still better than dating. It included (but was not limited to) sunburns, acne, diarrhea, spiders, rats, clowns, infections, heart surgery, chlamydia, razor burn, wet jeans and cold showers. Dating is the worst of the worst and most people who actively date accept this inevitable conclusion as fact.

And yet we humans date on in hopes that we will find a passionate connection, a partner with whom we can laugh, grow and make memories. Three months ago I went on a first date with a delightfully normal fella and am pleased to say that our relationship thus far is a happy one.

Just this past weekend we got stoned and decided to watch The Big Lebowski. As our popcorn popped expectantly the fella recounted a date from his days past—a date that went well until the unlucky broad mentioned her hatred of this beloved cult-classic.

“And that did it for me. I never saw her again,” he remembered casually. I momentarily scoffed before remembering that I once lost interest in a fella because he ordered broccoli instead of fries as a side for his burger. And it was then, in a moment of clarity most likely afforded to me by Black Ice, the truest truth of dating finally dawned on me. The reason most dating experiences end unsuccessfully is because of an unknown, uncontrollable, random, unpredictable, exclusive variable hereby termed ‘The Big Lebowski Factor.’

My boyfriend is kind and tolerant, accepting, open-minded and flexible. He did not stop dating a woman solely because she dislikes a movie that he loves. If this were the case we never would have made it past my admission that I hate both peanut butter and chocolate. His decision to not further pursue this chick was based on his perception of her values and a judgement of her opinions and how she expressed them.

For a brief moment I put myself in this woman’s place. Perhaps she left the date feeling optimistic and excited for things to come. Perhaps she felt confident and strong, pleased that she assertively expressed her opinions. I can only assume that in the days of radio silence after this date she obsessively wondered about what went wrong. I have done just this in my own dating life for nearly a decade. Whichever explanation she settled on likely placed responsibility and blame on her alleged failings as a human and not, more simply and accurately, on an external dynamic completely out of her control.

In dating (and in life) we may never know why it is that someone does not call after a seemingly promising encounter.  Everyone enters into interpersonal interactions with a lens quite different from our own and an utterly unique perspective. There is no need to unnecessarily blame and criticize ourselves. Instead we must remain true to ourselves, poised and assured in our self-love and with the knowledge that whatever it is, it isn’t us. It’s ‘The Big Lebowski Factor.’

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