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The Litmus Test

Submitted by LeahG on March 10, 2010 – 5:58 pmComments

By: Leah Goldstein

photo by: dogbomb flickr.com/photos/dogbomb/

“You probably have roughly ten essential things that you are looking for when seeking possible mates,” my tenth grade A.P. Psychology teacher explained. “We use schemas. When you’re first meeting someone, you go through these qualities subconsciously, almost like a check list. ‘Oh you are attractive-check; you are a democrat-check; your favorite band is Radiohead,’ etcetera.”

Being a more advanced social scientist now (in addition to writing for this, I’m also a social work researcher), I realize that this teacher was probably giving a very easy-to-digest version of Elaine Hatfield and Richard L. Rapson’sunified love schema theory, and possibly Robert J. Sternberg’s triangular theory of love.

Anyway, back to the tenth grade. So, I started thinking about the items on my“10 things you gotta have” list: ‘Obviously the Radiohead thing; funny AND quick witted; smart; talented; cute; washboard abs a plus…’ These are not unusual things for people to list as qualities that they are looking for in another person (MUST LOVE DOGS, NO NEEDLE DRUGS). However, I didn’t realize that I had something on my list that was making me eliminate a good 20% of males from my pool of potential boyfriends.

It was actually my sister who pointed it out. I was dating a new guy, still dippin’ my toes in to see where it would go. I was texting my sister while hanging out with this guy, and I received a text back from her that said: “URGENT,” and then an immediate follow-up phone call. “LEAH. THIS IS AN INTERVENTION. YOU NEED A LITMUS TEST FOR GUYS THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE ANIME.”

Yes. I know. By looking at me, you would never know that Japanese animation is not something I take lightly. It’s kind of a secret, I guess. I don’t even tell new friends this until I am positive that they won’t openly ridicule me. I’m not like, OBSESSED (I don’t own like a wall of DVDs, or any of those wall scrolls or anything*), I just probably watch more than your average Brooklyn 20-something who totally couldn’t wait for the new Miyazaki (Guy who did Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, etc.)  film to come out.

One series in particular really got to me AND my sister when we were teens…so as part of my “let me see if I can date you”  gauntlet, I attempt to watch the series with the prospective boyfriend. To a certain extent, I don’t think I’m alone here. Most people have a show, movie, etc. that they love so much that they have rendered themselves unable to view it with other people (because you get mad/anxious/feel ’some kinda ways,’ if the new viewers don’t laugh in the same places that you did, etc). So this series was my thing. I had been texting my sister: “UGH. He f*cking LAUGHED at that part where…how stupid is that?!”

After my sister had confronted me, I realized that this CARTOON had become the line in the sand, the Caesar’s thumb perched to point up or down.

How could I let this happen?

And more importantly, did the enjoyment of this series outweigh other, more meaningful interpersonal factors? That thought terrified me. But then, I realized that the key to this lay in the idea of schemas that my Psych teacher had introduced years previously. It wasn’t necessarily the series, but a typology of personality traits that I was looking for. I realized that the type of person who might enjoy this series would probably posses those traits: a dark sense of humor, predilection for analytical and flexible thinking, open to new information and able to synthesize new information quickly-these are qualities that I find blend well with my personality and interpersonal behaviors.

I broke up with that guy a few weeks later for non-anime related reasons, but that is another (much funnier) story.

*I’d like to say that I have SO much love for my fellow anime-nerds.

Leah Goldstein is a writer/musician/social scientist who lives in Brooklyn, and kind of loves having ADHD. You can find her on twitter @thetarhythm

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  • k9d
    seems like as good a place as any to let my totoro litmus out of the closet ... or maybe paul robertson!
  • thetarhythm
    heh. It's actually Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Jon
    Fellow Choice Effect blogger Jon, here. I've gotta say, Naruto Shippuuden? Good stuff. Nothing wrong with having standards...
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