I've recently begun a relationship with a man I'll call Brad. He's my age, and also a recent college grad, and he's also looking to work in healthcare as a career. We met on JDate, which I find absolutely hilarious because, well, it's JDate.*
As many of my friends know, and as many people could probably guess, one of the reasons I've had a hard time dating in the past is because I have "ridiculous" standards for a partner. That is, as a progressive feminist woman, I expect certain things in relationships (respect, equality) and I've wanted a partner who cares about the same things I do without just saying so to get in my pants (i.e. also progressive, aware of his** privileges--whatever they may be--not ridiculously insecure about his masculinity). I want to be able to get annoyed about the overt racism of Avatar without my partner telling me I should just enjoy the movie for what it's "meant" to be. I want to be able to talk about sexual violence without my partner expressing rape-apologetic sentiments. I want to be myself without worrying that my partner really doesn't like me for who I am and is really hoping I'll change and become what he wants me to be.
In the past, I haven't had that. And while no one has every just told me to change those standards,*** that's been the overall societal pressure. Go out on dates with guys you don't like because it's a free meal. Get used to the idea that I won't be with someone who's as politically liberal as I am. Change my standards until any guy could potentially meet them because I'd be lucky to have any guy who would be okay with dating a feminist woman. Again, no one's ever said these things outright. But it's there. Besides, there's the constant backlash to feminism, the one that says, "Feminist women are ugly, man-hating lesbians; in order to stop being perceived as an ugly, man-hating lesbian who no man would ever want to fuck, you have to abandon feminism."
I don't have to deal with that with Brad. He was interested in me because of my feminism and my progressive political views. And likewise me with him; I was immediately interested in this man who didn't just say he was pro-choice because he knew that's what I wanted to hear. It came up in conversation that he had been an escort for an abortion clinic. Here was a guy who didn't just say he was pro-choice because he didn't care about the issue; he actually understands the need for abortion for the sake of women's lives.
Last night, while we were driving back to the suburbs from Boston, he and I were talking. I can't remember how it came up, but he mentioned to me that he's been told before that he shouldn't hold other people to his standards (regarding social justice, politics, etc.), but that he doesn't care if his standards are "too high." And I realize how amazing it feels to have someone desire you not in spite of your personal convictions, but because of them. And I'm glad that I can reciprocate!
* I've realized recently that some people, especially people outside of the Jewish community, aren't familiar with JDate. It's a specifically Jewish dating site (for example, under "religion," your options are things like "Reform, Conservative, Culturally but not practicing," etc., or "Willing to convert," and "ethnicity" means whether you're Ashkenazi or Sephardic), and it's meant to sort of take the place of matchmakers in modern society. It's not the greatest dating site (I think I prefer some of the aspects of OKCupid), and it's fucking expensive if you want to be able to do things like read and send messages. But it's pretty much the best place to meet potential mates who are Jewish.
I've always experienced JDate as sort of a joke in the Jewish community. Not that no one uses it; it's wildly popular. It's just even worse than saying you met someone on Match.com. It's like caving to years of a Jewish grandmother trying to set you up with a doctor (have I told my grandmother that I'm dating someone who's planning on going to medical school? NOPE).
** Sexuality, especially my own, is a complicated topic. I don't consider myself "straight," even though I've only ever dated and had romantic/sexual relationships with men. Who knows if I'll someday meet and fall in love with a woman? And, furthermore, who really cares? Right now, though, I know I like men, and I've never liked women, so I was looking for a boyfriend, not either a boyfriend or a girlfriend.
*** I have been told outright to drop other standards, such as my typing requirement (if you can't IM me or message me in proper English, then don't bother). Or my standard that I need to be at least marginally interested in a guy to go out with him. People probably find it much harder to suggest that I date another Libertarian.