Relationships and Romance

Red flags and deal breakers: Point keeping

One of my huge dating pet peeves and easiest “pink flag” to notice (and to avoid) in a new relationship, is point keeping.

Imagine the following scenario:

“What’s your favorite movie?”

“Hmmm, that’s tough. Lately I love Amelie.”

“You know Amelie? Points to you.”

First off… Amelie is not the real movie (or TV show or book or hobby or musical artist) in any iteration of this scenario. It’s a stand in for any number of fairly mainstream things. When a guy gives me “points,” especially for something that I consider fairly popular, I suspect he either has an inflated sense of self and exaggerated sense of the importance and rarity of his own hobbies or that he has an abnormally low view of the people around him.

After all, if he’s giving me points for knowing something, it’s because he thinks it’s worthy of points. Guys don’t typically give me points for breathing air or drinking water. When the thing I know is the names of the main characters in the latest Marvel blockbuster, that’s hardly interesting or unique anymore.

Secondly, why am I getting points? That has nothing to do with me or my personality. It has nothing to do with my potential as a partner. Hobby/interest points make me feel like a guy has a pro/con list that he’s slowly working through with me.’

When a guy gives me points for liking one of his interests, I can see he’s very focused on his own hobbies only. Give me points for mine. Give me points for my encyclopedic knowledge of OFRA’s liquid lipstick shades and my treasure trove of World’s Fairs history and trivia facts.

While I’m not against the idea of putting your own interests firsts, that’s not typically why people date. You generally are supposed to be learning about other people.

When it comes to the pro/con element, I’m not generally against pro/con lists either. I’m not against having a solid list of what you’re looking for in a partner. Something grates about this specific style of point keeping that reduces a person to slim tidbits from early interactions you have with them.

I’m more interested in the way your mind works and how you process the world than I am in whether you like the right type of music–though I will tease you relentlessly about music if given the opportunity.

Finally, point keeping creates a gamification of the dating process that I hate. If you’re giving me points for random interests, are you taking them away for other things? Are you keeping score between the points you perceive for yourself and the points you perceive for me? Is there an end-goal?

Perhaps life would be easier that way. In a point tallying system similar to that in The Good Place, you can accumulate 40,000 points, get married, have children, live happily ever after. (Do I get points for The Good Place reference?) But that sort of reductive thinking isn’t how I want to live my life and experience my relationships.

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