Loving the Alien: Why You Should Try Dating Outside Your Comfort Zone

Wednesday March 24, 2021

"One Train!" is the rallying cry for unity in the hit Netflix series "Snowpiercer," set in a post-apocalyptic world where strife over race, religion, sexual preferences, and non-local politics is essentially extinct. After all, if you're one of just a few thousand souls left on the planet, who cares if you're gay or Muslim?

Utopian sci-fi visions of the future have used a premise very close to the same idea. In "Star Trek," being human makes you just one type of life form; our shared humanity a glue that supersedes "identities" related to superficial creeds, colors, or classes.

But on today's planet Earth, we seem so far away from grasping any of these fundamental truths. Of late, we've heard Megan Markle allege that concerns were raised from someone in the UK's Royal Family over the skin tone of her and Prince Harry's first child. The reactions are revealing. Some, such as UK-born, "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver were left significantly underwhelmed (Really? A white family that once ruled half the planet might be a tad racist, you say? Shocking!), while others, such as blowhard UK TV talking head Piers Morgan were furious (Did you say, "racism"!?! And while HRH Prince Phillip is in the hospital?? The nerve!).

The media — somewhat understandably — loves outrage. Who would buy a newspaper with the headline "Most People Are Basically Like Most Other People"? It's much more fun, and seriously more profitable, to get everyone worked up with copy decrying our "unprecedented polarization." Culture wars, civilizational clashes, religious strife, issues of identity — separation and division are the sexy struggles that sell. Too many have bought into this binary dichotomy. Either X or Y; a false proposition that fails to see all the other letters in the alphabet.

The dating world is no exception. Instead of being open to the possibility of finding someone outside a comfort zone, it's segmenting into clans. There's a good argument to be made that you're better off trying to find love on one of the larger top 10 dating sites than on a site exclusively for vegan Virgo ventriloquists who love alliteration. Sure, "top ten" sites do offer services that winnow the pool to people who might fit — they're not going to pair a gay man with a gay woman, for example. But a good online dating site is going to offer surprises, which, while cliché, are indeed the spice of life. Opposites may not attract, but if you're looking for a person who will understand, support, and sometimes nudge you in the right direction (i.e., a genuine partner), then the last thing you want is a person exactly like you!

There are plenty of examples of couples that "shouldn't work." A recent marvel was the pairing of Kellyanne Conway with George Conway. Described in a Vanity Fair article as once "very much in love," things got rocky in 2016 as Kellyanne snagged a first-class ticket on the Trump train while George joined a group dedicated to mocking the 45th president and sabotaging his re-election hopes. Despite being on different sides of a Mexican border wall, they remain married and hopefully will end up emulating the famous duo of James Carville, a caustic Democratic commentator, and Mexican Mary Matalin, a formidable Republican strategist. Matalin and Carville have been together for over two decades and say having a spouse with polar opposite views tests one's thinking, making them stronger advocates for their opinions. What an idea! Debating someone you care about could bring you closer and sharpen your brain.

People, religions, and nations in the second decade of the 21st century are actually — despite media assertions — moving toward tolerance, and harmony is on the rise. Examples are all around us: The head Islamic cleric of Iraq chatting with the Pope; Muslim Dubai filling with Jewish visitors and even hosting ultra-orthodox weddings, anti-gay marriage laws declared unconstitutional by Japan's supreme court (paving the way for that nation to become the second in Asia, after Taiwan to legalize same-sex marriage), and — on a lighter note — 57-year-old actor Nicolas Cage's fifth marriage. This time to 27-year-old Japanese national Riko Shibata. The couple had a "traditional Catholic and Shinto" wedding with both Haikus and readings from Walt Whitman. As frosting on the cake, Cage's son with ex-wife Alice Kim both attended the wedding and spoke of their joy for the new couple.

It's easy to judge. But especially when it comes to love, judging a book by its romance novel cover is a bad idea. When we see someone lapping up happiness, how about a moratorium on poisoning the well? Nia Renee Hill boiled the point down quite succinctly after someone tweeted about her husband Bill Burr — a comedian who, like most good comedians, is no stranger to controversy. Nia Renee Hill is an African-American woman. The couple has been together since 2013 and have two kids.

"While I'm not suggesting Bill Burr is a racist," read the March 2021 tweet, "a white man having a non-white wife can sometimes be a sign of racism." Nia's response was a refreshing repose to the overly-reactive stupidity of our times. Nia tweeted back: "Bitch, shut the f*** up."

Those who want to get into the weeds will always do so, but admiring the roses instead of the thorns is how we collectively get to that happy place. Not everything must be quantified with vitriol. "Roses are red" does not necessarily need to be followed up with, "but some rose species are toxic to some species."