Friday, January 6, 2012

Guest Post: Cook Simple. Date Simple.

Guest post by Kate

A friend told me recently "dating is like cooking--- just keep it simple. Work with a key ingredient you know you like and everything else will come together."

Man, did she hit that nail on the head.

I've been lucky to date some pretty amazing cooks over the last year and a half. Some have made me big elaborate meals. Seared tuna served with homemade fancy sauces, side dishes that I couldn't pronounce even if you paid me, and wine pairings with each course. Some have kept it simple. Sprinkled salt and pepper on a steak, grilled it, and served it with a fresh farmers salad. Some have invited me over for dinner and had music playing, the table set like we were at the Ritz, and refused to let me lift a finger to help while juggling three cookbooks and eight different pans on the stove. Some have had simple hors d'oeuvres and wine waiting. Others have shown up at my place with a bag full of groceries and suggested we cook together and eat Indian style in front of my coffee table.

Guess what meals I've enjoyed more?

The simple ones.

Not the ones that are followed to a T with elaborate ingredients spread across the counter. Not the ones where the guy stresses because the flavors are wrong or his timing with courses is off. Not the ones that require me to ohhh and ahhhh or feel like I need to sit proper and savor every bite. Not the ones that the food is the most important aspect of the night.

But the ones that don't follow a recipe book, and instead add a little salt here, try a little taste, and add a little more? I like those. The ones that I can sit out on the deck with my legs crossed and bare feet dangling in the cool September air and just enjoy the goodness of the simple food and its natural flavors? I really like those. And the ones that the company and connection grab you and you get lost in the conversation, not lost in the complexity of the food? Those are my favorite.

Dating is the same way.

When you keep a recipe of what you expect out of who you date, the whole dating game becomes extremely complicated, and you will most likely end up disappointed and stressed out. Why? Because you have overcomplicated what could have been a very simple, enjoyable thing.

See, when I moved to DC last fall I started off with a long checklist of what I expected in the men I dated. I dated men that made the checklist, but I was continuously disappointed when they didn't live it up to what I expected. Eventually, this summer I re-evaluated what I really want in someone. And I determined that I just want a good person. A good man. While there needs to be the right amount of attraction and chemistry as well, everything else can be substituted. So, I threw the list away and started from scratch. So far, it is working pretty well.

What I have learned is that when comes to dating, don't go for the elaborate four-course meal with wine pairings. Instead, find one true "ingredient" you need to have in the person you are with (aka, your non-negotiable) and all the other "ingredients" will come together as they should. Just like a simple home cooked meal.

Kate is the former author of A Single Girl Doing Single Things and is co-creator and contributor for Doing the District. You can follow her on twitter at @AppealingKate

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