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December 8, 2012

Is Cosmo's 'Worst Date Ever' the worst article ever?

Okay, we know that Cosmopolitan magazine is usually pretty fucked up in a lot of ways -- but sometimes we come across something that's just so bad that we almost can't even believe they thought it was a good idea. In the December 2012 issue, it was "Worst Date Ever: He Was Bisexual... With a Girlfriend!"

There are so many things wrong with this allegedly "true" story, that we can barely wrap our heads around it.

It starts off innocently enough:
The backstory: I hit it off with a sexy, scruffy guy at a friend's party, and we ended up making out before saying good-bye at the end of the night. The next day, he added me on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to see a movie with him. I was super excited--he seemed to be just my type, so I said yes and breezily added, "I'll see whatever!"
But then got a little weird:
Unfortunately, he got us tickets to Blue Valentine. If you haven't seen it, it documents the dissolution of a raging alcoholic's marriage. (In the beginning, the couple finds their pet dog dead on the side of the road; this is probably the least depressing part of the movie.) Every time I went to rest my head on my date's shoulder, a harrowing scene--an abortion appointment, a drag-out lovers' fight--would make me cringe or shudder.
Okay, maybe it's not the most "romantic" movie, but Blue Valentine (starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling) was critically acclaimed. She said she'd see "whatever" so bashing his choice of film just comes off as bitchy. She could have easily said, "I'd rather not see that" and suggested an unwatchable, cheesy romantic comedy instead. (Also, not exactly sure what's so "harrowing" about an abortion appointment, it's not like they actually show an abortion taking place.)

And then here's where the shit hit the fan. I hope you're ready for a long rant, because I have a lot of feelings! There's just so much wrong with this one little paragraph...
When it was finally over, we headed to a wine bar, where, over a glass of merlot, my date matter-of-factly informed me that he also hooks up with men. I consider myself pretty open-minded, so that bit of info itself didn't bother me--it was his timing. At this point in the night, we were supposed to be all flirty and into each other.
Let's start with "matter-of-factly". What exactly is the proper way to tell someone that you hook up with both men and women? Does the fact that he did it "matter-of-factly" somehow make it inappropriate? Being bisexual (or "also hooking up with men" - since he never actually used the "b"-word so we can't know for sure if he actually identifies as such) isn't anything shameful or wrong or offensive. So why exactly must a person break the news in a way that isn't "matter-of-factly"? Was he supposed to sit down this woman he just met and delicately, slowly beat around the bush to tell her about his sexual orientations and preferences? Should he have taken her on Oprah to do a confessional about it? Why does she feel that he owes her (or anyone else) any kind of explanation that isn't "matter-of-fact"?

She claims to be open-minded and claims that the only reason it bothered her was "his timing", but what is the appropriate timing? Isn't the first date the most appropriate time to disclose this kind of information? That way you can weed out any closed minded bigots - if they have a problem with it, you don't waste your time going on a second or third date with them. She felt they were supposed to be "all flirty and into each other" at that point in the night, but how can you time a date? Maybe he wasn't acting like he was all into her, because he wasn't all into her. Or maybe he didn't realize that mentioning that he hooks up with men and "being all flirty and into each other" are apparently mutually exclusive things.
I figured he'd mistakenly thought it'd impress me, so I politely laid it out for him: "I understand that a guy can picture a girl he's dating making out with one of her girlfriends and get turned on by that. But for me personally, picturing a guy I'm doing going at it with his male-bud is not a turn-on." My date looked confused. I ordered us a second round of drinks.
Ugh. She figured he thought it would impress her? What the fuck? So basically, he's being honest about his sexuality in order to a) be a decent human being and b) weed out bigoted homophobes like her... and she thinks he's trying to impress her? Look, we know that in Cosmo-world, any same-sex sexual behavior is done for the benefit of an onlooking member of the opposite sex. Her response to him was just awful. No wonder he looked confused! He doesn't hook up with guys to turn her on; he does it because it turns him on!
Meanwhile, as if on cue, a man who'd been sitting near us at the bar turned toward my date to ask him a question. My date, without hesitation, flirted back. I tried to chime into their conversation, but I had ceased to exist to either of them. I sat there for 10 minutes while they got to know each other.
I'm starting to wonder if this guy even knew he was on a "date" with her or if he thought he was just seeing a movie with a new friend. I know they made out at the party, but it doesn't seem like he was trying to make her his new girlfriend for some reason. Maybe telling her he "also hooks up with guys" might've been his way of telling her that he wasn't looking for a commitment with her. He didn't say he also dates guys, he said "also hooks up with"... so maybe she wasn't his "date" after all? I might be reaching on this one, sure, but something about the whole story just doesn't ring true to me, so I have to wonder if she fictionalized any part of it to make a better story for Cosmo. (That is, if the entire story itself isn't fiction, which knowing Cosmo, it probably is.)

It's also possible that he wrote her off because her attitude and comments made it clear that they obviously weren't compatible, and decided to try to make the most of the evening by chatting with other people at the bar.
Finally, I stood up, grabbed my coat, and told them both I was heading out. My date ran after me and gave me a good-night kiss, but I'm pretty sure he went back to finish his flirtation.
Why wouldn't he go back to finish his flirtation? She left! If he still had any doubts about whether or not she was interested in him (seeing as she basically told him that she wasn't interested in him if he hooks up with guys, which he does) why wouldn't he continue to flirt with someone else? If in fact that is what he was even doing with that guy - based on her other statements, it's likely that this woman isn't very clear on exactly what "flirting" is and may have mistaken friendliness for romantic interest.
Here's the kicker: I got home and texted the friend who'd hosted the party where we'd met. I summarized the night's events and she wrote back, "That's weird--he totally has a girlfriend. They just moved in together."
Okay, so maybe I've been spending too much time at events like CatalystCon, but this is what I think... he's in an open relationship where they're both free to date and hook up with other people. His girlfriend may very well be doing the same thing he was doing. I can't know this for sure, but it doesn't seem like this woman stuck around long enough to find out. I'm very much against infidelity, but I don't have a problem with polyamory. I also don't have a problem with bisexuality (or fluid sexuality either)... what I do have a problem with is the way that this article seems to lump the two separate issues that this woman had with her date into one. The way that it's framed in this article just perpetuates the same stupid stereotype that we always hear about bisexual people being promiscuous and just basically having sex with everyone indiscriminately. This woman had two separate issues with her date, but the article frames it as if they were the same issue, as if him being bisexual and him (possibly) cheating on his girlfriend, were part of the same problem. It's really offensive.

It's as if we, the readers, are supposed to assume that his girlfriend has no idea that he hooks up with guys sometimes, but this is something she likely does know about, because if he tells women about it on the first date, his girlfriend probably found out in a similar way. Which is why I think it's probable that she also knows that he "dates" other women, like the author. It is the author who seemed to be confused about where she stood with this guy. It makes me wonder what their first interaction at the party was like... did he actually mention something offhand about having a girlfriend or being in an open relationship before they "made-out" and she just missed it (perhaps because it was noisy or she was drinking)? Or did he assume she knew based on the fact that they had a mutual friend? Or would he have explained it to her further, if she hadn't shot him down so directly after his initial comment about hooking up with guys? It just feels like the author did a lot of "filling-in-the-blanks" for this guy without actually getting the real story.

In fact, how do we even know that he actually does have a girlfriend? She's going based on what their  mutual friend told her, but how do we know it's true? There's no indication of how close she is with this mutual friend or how close the friend is with him. The girlfriend apparently wasn't at the party and he's apparently not listed as "In a Relationship" on Facebook. Maybe they just broke up. Maybe they were never actually in a relationship to begin with and the friend was mistaken. Maybe she makes the same kind of stupid assumptions the author makes.

And it's also quite telling that the fact that he has a girlfriend was more of an after-thought. The real complaint is that he was bisexual. The ellipsis "...with a girlfriend!" is just a little extra annoying. But she didn't even find that out until after the date, so it doesn't contribute to it being the worst date ever. Him allegedly being bisexual was all it took. 
A few days later, I posted this emo Facebook status update: I would like to date someone who's not dating someone. Guess who Liked it.
That right there proves it to me once and for all... this guy was either never interested in "dating" her in the first place or realized way before she did that they were totally incompatible and "likes" that she's going to hopefully try to date someone with whom she is compatible. Maybe someone as judgmental and bi-phobic as she is! I'm still laughing that this was under the heading "Worst Date Ever!"

I'd love to hear his point of view of the whole chain of events - I bet it was the worst date ever for him as well.


Vulnavia Morbius said...

Clearly this is much more awful than a date that ends up with a cup full of rufies or one where they hit a deer on the way home and suffer broken bones and ruptured spleens. Bisexuals are so much ickier than an emergency room.

Oh, Cosmo. Never change.

Adriana said...

I agree that framing this as a single issue is weird, but I think there's far more than two issues. By default, I don't assume people are in open relationships, so this guy seems like a sleazebag; although, I could be wrong. I kind of understand her point about him saying he also hooks up with guys. For me, that's not first date appropriate, but she obviously had a bigger issue with that.

Muara Pos said...

I agree with you in someways but not in many. Honestly...