“How are you still single? You’re such a catch!”
Things I’d rather do instead of answer this question: partake in a never-ending hotdog eating contest; heckle old people in nursing homes; reenact Hunger Games 1,2,&3 on the hallow-deck with the safety protocols off; clean underneath my fingernails with a chainsaw.
Honestly, as far as the benefits of being in a relationship go, 50% is the romantic perks and 50% is not having to answer such an insipid line of questioning. Okay, that was a bit dramatic. It’s probably more like 80/20.
Regardless, let’s slay this beast once and for all. Well, at least half of the beast. This affront to all things considerate comes in two parts — the ‘how are you still single’ part and the ‘you’re such a catch’ part. Let’s leave the first part alone for now. Perhaps it will be a future post. This article will concern itself with the latter piece. The being a “catch” nonsense.
Problems with the *catch* metaphor:
1. It likens wooing to capturing.
I’m going to state the obvious — I’m not an unsuspecting fish. Just think about the analogy for a moment. You’re saying that someone can throw a net around me, remove me from my habitat, and carry me away against my will (cue the Pontipee brothers). Besides being completely dramatic, it’s also quite brutal & cavalier. Romance is a beautiful dance between two people, not a grab and go special at the local Pizza hut.
2. It eliminates attraction.
I recently wrote an article about interest — and why women lose it — that unleashed some strong reactions. In it I talk about how building attraction is a back and forth between two people. A partnership has to be reciprocal, and the “catch” analogy is completely one-sided. It’s the fisherman doing all the work while the fish is completely passive (except, of course, for the flailing around on account of protesting its impending doom). The “catch” is not an active participant in the interaction, and thus, there’s no room for desire — one of attraction’s main ingredients.
3. It promotes a victim mentality.
Outside of the fishing comparison, there’s another one that is worth mentioning: catching someone who is falling. “I caught you” could just as well mean, “I broke your fall.” Can you see the problem already? It positions me, the *catch* as someone in need of rescuing. It conjures an image of someone who is one giant piece of work. And we all know confident people are not attracted to big pieces of work. We’re attracted to people who have their shit together and who are going places. Tell the truth, now ;)
The itch the *catch* metaphor is trying to scratch --
I think what people are trying to say when they say you’re a catch is you have immense value. That’s more on point. They look at you and see all the amazing ways you can add value to a partner’s life. How kind you are. How smart you are. How strong you are. How you continually work on yourself. How you regularly take healthy risks. How you speak your mind. How you pick yourself up when you fall. How you remain humble when you succeed.Who wouldn’t want to be with you, they’re thinking. They see your value and are shocked others (seemingly) don’t see it as well. And it’s to their credit.
This statement doesn’t just have an optics problem, though, it has a receiving problem too. When someone calls us a *catch* it doesn’t sit well with us. Like milk that’s been the in fridge a week too long. Why? For the three reasons above, certainly, but for one more reason too: We don’t want to be caught — we want to be won. We want to be a prize, and we want to obtain a prize.
The prize analogy is way more apt. To obtain a prize you have to work for it; it doesn’t come easily. You personally have to qualify to even be in the game. Then you have to compete against others. The only way you will do well is if in the ‘off-season’ you’ve been training your mind and body, daily.
The prize isn’t just an object — it’s a reflection of the work we’ve put into ourselves along the way, the work that led to us obtaining the reward. We don’t want to be a catch, we want to be a prize. And to get the prize, we have to be one first.
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