The Recycled Lover

It used to be that we only had to worry about a few basic stereotypes when we looked to the dating scene. We knew to watch out for the playboy-wannabe, the womanizer with a bed practically carved to fretwork with notches and the sleaze who seemed made of hair oil and can give you the cold shivers at thirty paces. In recent years though I’ve become aware of something a bit more troubling: the recyclable boyfriends.

It’s not that they’re necessarily unpleasant – many of them are actually quite easy on the eye – but they do somehow manage to have already dated a good proportion of your social circle. This means that you might point someone out in a bar, only to hear some pretty mad horror stories from a couple of your friends already.

You’ll hear about guys who forget to bring their wallet repeatedly on dates and wear inappropriate clothing when you’re going on a hike. Prepare to hear all about their narcissism and psychosis, or that they’ve been involved with your best mate on an on and off relationship for years. Don’t forget about the ones who are still pining for an old girlfriend he’ll never see again. All these are pitfalls that we might discover in the course of dating someone, true – but it would be nice to hope to discover and maybe overcome these issues ourselves, rather than have it laid out for us before we’ve even opened our mouths.

It’s enough to make you worry that not only are all the good ones taken, but there’s such a shortfall that we’re actively recycling our boyfriends! I’m told there’s a basic principle behind the phenomenon where we’re more attracted to guys who have already dated someone attractive because in a sense they’re “pre-approved”, but it’s still disturbing and makes it really hard to find someone.

To an extent it can be easier when searching online, in that you can flirt and check each other out at a bit of a distance and still go your separate ways if need be. You’re less likely to get a flaw by flaw breakdown by your friends as you explore from the privacy of your own keyboard, but perhaps we’re missing a trick here.

You could argue that this sharing of information is a great tool for filtering out the creeps and alerting you to possible hiccups that can therefore be sidestepped. If you go into a date with a recycled lover with a clear idea of what you won’t accept, you have a stronger case for either challenging odd behaviour or cutting your losses before it gets too late in the evening.

At the same time, you can also do your bit for the dating community by clearly labelling your recycled lover. You may not want him any more, but maybe someone else can make use of him, forewarned with your information about him.