Online dating can be a nerve-wracking experience for most people. Meeting someone new. Being transparent. Hoping the first date will end with a kiss instead of duct tape. It’s all rather unpredictable. For me, online dating reaches a whole new level of awkwardness because I fall under not one, but three fetish categories: [Asian] [Little Person] with a [Big Butt]. These attributes are commonly found on left panels of all sorts of pornographic websites. Trust me, I’ve taken the time to fact-check. Was I drunk on a Friday night or merely maintaining journalistic integrity? That’s right, both. You’re welcome.
A few years ago, I was at The Comedy Store and an African-American “comedian” said, “Dating a midget is like owning a moped. You’ll ride it, but you don’t want other people to know about it.” Harsh.
I wasn’t just offended that he poked fun at Little People. Amateur comics often use shock value to get a cheap laugh and to be frank, I’ve heard much worse. I was actually more irritated by his ignorance. A few decades ago (or sadly, even now), the same statement could be said in reference to African-Americans. I’ve always found it odd when those who have a history of discrimination also subject other minorities to the same mistreatment. It’s disgusting.
I was by myself and quickly walked out of the room once the show ended. I avoided eye contact, rushed to my car and cried like a bitch. I was embarrassed because, at the time, I believed that douchebag was kind of right. I knew his statement had some validity as the guy I had been dating at the time refused to acknowledge me as his girlfriend. I was always introduced as his “friend”, yet he had no problem displaying affection when no one was around.
Although I’m half-Japanese and half-Korean, I identify more with my Korean heritage. Korean people are notoriously known for being superficial. In Korea, it’s common for a high school graduate to be gifted with plastic surgery. While Americans are lucky to get some cash for textbooks, many young Korean women are getting liposuction, double-eyelids and/or breast implants. In Korean culture, “inner beauty” is for ugly chumps.
My Mom is a beautiful Korean woman with the sweetest heart. She has always been a wonderful Mom and I love her more than anyone else in this world. While she had the best intentions, some of her protective ways often got lost in cultural translation. She prepared me for hypothetical disappointment by making sure I knew that I was conventionally unattractive.
For most of my life, I was conditioned to believe that I was ugly and would never find a mate unless he also had his share of "imperfections". For years, I attracted men with very few redeeming qualities who treated me like I was worthless. While I don’t believe anyone ever deserves to be treated badly, I know that I had attracted bad guys because I didn’t value myself. I had succumbed to the belief that I had to lower my standards and acquired an addiction to bullshit because in my mind, I deserved it.
Like most people battling addictive behavior, I had to hit rock bottom to wake up and seek help. My wake-up call blared when the guy I had been dating decided to post an ad on Craigslist to prostitute me. He put me up for sale on the Pennysaver of the Internet because I refused to give him gas money. While he claimed it was a joke, I left and never saw him again. I changed my number and sought help immediately.
Therapy, inner healing and learning from my mistakes helped me realize that I had lived through a filter of archaic cultural beliefs and suffered its consequences. My culture’s perception of beauty limited the way I saw myself and I inadvertently attracted people who took advantage of my insecurities. These days, I would rather be alone than endure the repercussions of a bad relationship.
When it came to dating, I pegged myself as a one-dimensional person. Through therapy, I was confronted with a habit of defining myself as a Little Person--ONLY a Little Person. I was so fixated on this one aspect and basically forgot that I embodied qualities that were non-specific of being a Little Person. We all have amazing attributes and sometimes, we forget about them because we've been taught to see ourselves in a one-dimensional way. As I started to let go of that habitual process of focusing on being a Little Person, I started to attract people who were interested in my non-Little Person characteristics.
The truth is that my partner is going to have to be an amazing person. I don't have any room to settle because my partner is going to have to be strong and secure. I’m not oblivious to the fact that dating a Little Person who uses a child-sized walker is different—very different. People will likely stare. His family/friends will have a lot of questions. Shit will get real pretty fast. The right guy will make adjustments. The wrong guy won’t. Like everyone else, I have to trust that things will fall into place and accept that all I can do is live in the moment.
It took me a really long time to be willing to accept rejection. I used to take it very personally and immediately proclaimed I was never going to date again. Getting dumped will always sting, but rejection is an integral part of the process of closing one chapter to begin the next one. Cliché, yet true.
Last night I went on a third date with a cool guy I met on OkCupid.com. While we were at dinner, a woman walked up to our table and said, “I just had to come over to tell you that you’re such an inspiration. You’re so independent.”
I wanted to die. Why? Why did that have to happen while I’m on a date with the ONLY guy who made it past the plethora of generic emails and boring phone conversations? WHY?! Shit got real.
As I mentally plotted my own death via fork and knife, the woman went on and on about how I’ve inspired her and shared several aspects of her life. My date didn’t seem fazed by her, but I made it an issue by failing to properly conceal my own discomfort. When this happens with friends, it doesn’t bother me at all. However, on a third date, I wanted to stab myself with flatware.
At the moment, I have no idea if there will be a fourth date. I don’t know if I’ve officially merged into the friendship lane or if I’ll even see him again. It doesn’t really matter. The reality is that I don’t have any control. If it’s meant to work out, it will happen organically. The right person won’t be ready to call it quits because someone couldn’t keep her thoughts to herself. The unknown is terrifying, yet exciting.