The Challenge Of Dating When You Aren’t Basic


I didn’t know really what it meant to be basic until coming face to face with a human embodiment. While I’ve heard the expression lobbed around online for some time, its significance was distant and theoretical, like global warming or a savings account. Who were all these basic bitches that had sprouted up like newfound gluten intolerance over the last few years?

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I’ve avoided any basic interaction up to now. I’ve certainly never gone on a date with one. I’ve been able to weed them out, if not immediately by sight then online by their conversation skills. The gay basic tends to reveal himself by stunted dialogue almost always initiated by an obligatory “Sup?”

So I’m not sure how I let one through the other night. We had been talking for a few days and while I wasn’t anticipating him to be the love of my life, I also wasn’t expecting him to be so depressingly basic.

As soon as I saw him sauntering towards me, dragging his feet in a lazy gait while simultaneously swaying his glutes from side to side, I knew we were a match made in dating Hell.

To other basics, he would have appeared attractive. As a personal trainer, his body was his stock and trade. He had shoulders the span of a small couch and pecs that would have required the support of a bra were they not already as hard as cinderblocks. He had a handsome face with the benefit of youth, unlined and attractive in a Hollister store model way.

He was dressed in boot cut jeans with hideous oversized back pockets and an ugly V-neck T-shirt whose provenance seemed sourced from one of those tacky gay boutiques lining Santa Monica Boulevard. I wanted to jump back in my car and speed off down the road, but I couldn’t bring myself to be so brazenly rude and cynical.

He showed me to his studio apartment, proudly opening the door as if ushering me into the Taj Mahal. He had just moved into the space, which lacked any furniture except for an unmade bed that he invited me to sit on. He mentioned something about his “decorator,” about which I had to suppress the desire to laugh.

If he had an ounce of humility or self-awareness, I could have forgiven much. But he was utterly self-absorbed. He represented the archetypal West Hollywood gay man: generic looks and a preoccupation with physical exterior and status. Any physical attraction I had for him quickly melted away in the face of his basic, lackluster personality.

He possessed the intellectual prowess of a rutabaga. He didn’t ask me a single question about myself until a couple hours into our date, which signified that my actual life was of little importance to him. The less he knew, the better. His attraction to me was surface level and he had no intention of diving any deeper. When he did finally ask me a question, it was only to ascertain how long I’d been living in Los Angeles.

I realized that he likely has a much easier time dating than I do. If the basic wants a relationship, he only has to find someone with a similar IQ who will love him for his body. His search for love isn’t complicated by the desire to find someone to understand him. There is nothing esoteric to be understood or unknown depths to plumb. He presents himself as he is, basic.

When you’re intelligent and have any set of interests that could be approximately described as “eclectic,” it makes finding a match exponentially more difficult. The more individual one’s interests or refined one’s persona, the harder it is to find someone to appreciate those quirks.

I could imagine him running the other direction when he found out that one of my favorite pass-times is listening to the French news radio, or discovering that I pray to a God in the shape of an elephant, or that sometimes I’m inspired to don a cape and a fur hat.

Being non-basic makes you more discriminating. Since you know yourself better than the basic, you discern quickly who would and would not be an appropriate partner. And that whittles down the list of eligible candidates to something that could probably fit on an index card.

It also means that when you find someone you like, a rare needle in the haystack, you tend to obsess. How can you help it when so much has to align that it must be destiny at work?

When you have no distinct personality and an interchangeable brain, there are plenty of similar basics you can be with. It’s like having the blood type O or being the dating embodiment of chocolate ice cream as opposed to pistachio.

Unable to communicate, the basic poked and prodded me throughout the evening, stuck his tongue out. At the end of the night, he expected to take me back to his studio and have his way with me. I made up an excuse about having to go home and pack for a trip the next day. The truth is a little more complicated than that.