October 19, 2011

Origin of the Butter Couple

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If you UrbanDictionary “butter couple,” you’ll see the definition is: “a couple in which either the male or female is much better looking than their counterpart.” This is derived from what we commonly call dating down. You’ve heard the term. If you haven’t, dating down is exactly what it sounds like — dating someone who is beneath you. Beneath you how? Maybe your beau is stupider or less physically attractive than you are. Maybe you’re a solid 8 but he’s a mere 5.5. Or maybe you’re driving ‘round town in the Batmobile while she’s begging mommy to borrow the minivan. There are many different categories to be considered when evaluating whether your partner is up to snuff (or far, far below).

Once you go through these categories and add up your scores, you can determine which of you would be better off finding a new romance and which of you should be begging the other to stay. If you do this and realize that you’re the better half of your ill-fated relationship, don’t pack up the Batmobile just yet. Even if you are the Topanga (read: hotter and Ivy-bound) to his Cory (read: cute but not hot, average intelligence, terrible hair — especially disconcerting if, like me, you date for posterity’s sake), you might want to hang tight.

First, let me start by saying that even though there are many categories to assess your partner on, we tend to overlook most of them. Sometimes we do this because the category is irrelevant.  For instance, if you’re both at Cornell, you’ve probably got the same level of smarts (unless one of you is a transfer … but really, I probably got into Cornell based on a clerical error so don’t feel bad, Transfers). And sometimes we only consider certain categories if we’re on the fence about inviting someone into our already screwed-up love lives. Like niceness — the pity criterion. If a girl says “he’s so nice” that means “I like him but he’s not cute so I should invent another reason that I like him to justify my feelings to my friends. I’ll say he’s nice!” Why we choose to say someone is nice over any other overly-used and mildly-redeeming adjective, I don’t know. But we do. Thus the main category we’re basing our judgement on is the most superficial one of all: looks.

What guy wants to date a butterface? Maybe she’s not even a butterface — maybe her body is just as “eh” as her face. Ouch. Never having been a man or a lesbian, I’m not sure why you’d go for an unattractive girl. I bet male chauvinists would date someone who wasn’t very cute though. It’s probably easier to be a player if you’re playing a bunch of girls who are insecure and less attractive than you are. And if you were a male chauvinist, you’d probably tell these girls that they should have low self-esteem because you actually believe they’re inferior. Wow, male chauvinists suck.

This brings us to our next question: what girl wants to date an ugly guy? If you’re an insecure female (or jealous or grappling with trust issues or super controlling or just batshit crazy), dating down is for you. Your man will know that he can’t do better than your fine self so he’ll worship the very ground you walk on and you’ll have the security you were craving for (and a man-slave). Am I being serious? Not really, but that logic isn’t terrible.

When you’re older, wiser and ready to settle down, you’ll want someone who is on your level. You still might end up with someone who is on a different level of hot/cute/butt ugly but that’s not the point — he/she will balance you out overall. If you’re eccentric, perhaps you’ll wind up with someone calm and collected. Or perhaps, clever as you are, your significant other will be some kind of astrophysical genius on par with Stephen Hawking (minus the wheelchair-confining disease, I hope). We all love Lucy but someone has got to play Ricky, meaning that one will   compensate for the other’s shortcomings.

If you ultimately want to join the White Picket Fence Crew with someone who is the yin to your yang, why are you dating down now? Because you haven’t grown into yourself yet. One day, you will. Some of you might have already started to, but most of us are still self-doubting and stupid. We spend our days wondering why Johnny hasn’t called, our nights hitting on anyone sober enough to stand up (and sometimes people who are less sober than that) and then, in the wee hours of the morning, we vomit from our third-story balcony (you know who you are).

You can date someone with whom you have a future, but in all honesty, one of you will probably ruin it. Or maybe you won’t. What do I know? I’ve ruined a few relationships but I’m no dating authority. I’m just here to be cynical — to make you doubt that sickening feeling of butterflies in your tummy when you see someone worth dating. And so in keeping up with my job description, let me say one last thing: he might be 20,000 leagues below you, but I bet he’s really nice.

Hazel Gunapala is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at hgunapala@cornellsun.com. Appropriately Cyn­ical appears alternate Thurs­days this semester.

Original Author: Hazel Gunapala