Soon, I turn 33, aka my 'jesus year,' which means I'll be doing my most important work and/or die a painful death. I'd really love to find a partner to put through that emotional roller coaster.
I have a good sense of what I'm looking for, but I certainly don’t expect you to fit a mold of what I think I might want! People surprise me all the time.
So how about I tell you just a few defining qualities about me, and if they resonate, I would be so excited to meet you :)
I'm the best-est friend you'll ever have
My handwriting and art is tattooed on three bodies. I've officiated three weddings, and I've been a groomsman four times (and counting)... All of this is to say that I am the kind of person who my friends love and trust. I'll fly out and show up at court for their custody battles, I will drop my things if they need company (and they don't have to ask for it), and I will dance my absolute hardest at their wedding and "be that guy" because I think my friends deserve the best.
Friendship is an art I deeply care about. I have active group chats with friends I’ve known since I was five years old, and I sporadically volunteer long voice messages of funny stories from my life to keep in touch with long-distance besties... so that one day, my life can look like this.
"The pursuit IS happiness"
These words are tattooed on my body as a tribute my defining belief that the process is more important than the outcome (unless of course we're starving in the wilderness and i fuck up our only source of food, sadface).
I love being in the kitchen. As a former neuroscientist, the kitchen is the closest thing I have to a lab bench now. I love a Saturday where I can fuck around in the kitchen like Miles Davis on a trumpet. It's flow for me. Nothing else matters when I'm waiting for the perfect texture of a roux coming together, or when I brunoise a shallot, or baste a cross-hatched King Trumpet mushroom with an aromatic butter. Okay, so maybe 49% of what I cook is trash, but I'm ok with that. Learning is the only meaningful outcome, right?
This mantra is also a nod to the fact that I like pursuing goals more than achieving them. The thrill of the hunt is intoxicating. The game is more fun than the prize. The pursuit provides purpose. Whatever you want to call it, I enjoy failing and learning the hard way.
More pertinently, romantic relationships are a process of love as much as love of process, and I'm looking for someone who understands the never-ending pursuit of a more perfect union.
I feel most alive at the edge of death
One of my strongest identities is as a climber (and started before all the SF techbois thought it was cool). I lived in my car for five years during grad school, so I've definitely earned my dirtbag street cred. I tend to disappear for weekends to be out in the mountains, and I waffle on whether or not my partner needs to be a climber – it's that important. There is nothing like the camaraderie of managing high-stakes risk together on a big rock wall.
And staying calm under pressure is one of my hottest qualities :)
I'm also the kind of person who skied down a black diamond his very first day learning, not because I'm good (seriously, I'm not), but because I'm reckless lol. I want a partner who is foolish enough to be my adventure buddy until we become boring geriatrics.
Nature is worth protecting regardless of whether humans continue to exist
One time, I had a strong psychedelic vision during a six-hour meditation, where I stood trial in front of every species on Earth for the human crimes against the planet. I went from being an armchair environmentalist to full-fledged activist. (The gorilla made me feel the most guilt). I think about my impact on our planet several times day, whether it's frantically washing myself in one-song showers, or spending too much time getting things second-hand.
My relationship to trees, rocks, and reefs feel like real relationships, like a history of give and take, and of mutual nourishment. Picture less Castaway Wilson, more The Giving Tree. Movies like Princess Mononoke and WALL-E, and books like Ishmael, tug at my heartstrings. I'm not religious but I'm spiritual enough that I'm looking for a partner with whom we can love something greater than ourselves.
I have a bone to pick with the word 'ambitious'
If someone isn't aiming to impact the world at scale, our society doesn't label them as ambitious. It's a shame. I think there is ambition in being the most influential teacher in someone's life, or being the most thoughtful and understanding partner, or being the least useless dad (lol). We should value those ambitions just as much as we value building the next billion-dollar company that exploits the financial precarity of gig workers.
I am also the oldest of a dozen cousins, and I'm the eldest in my generation. Anyone from an Asian background (and especially a refugee background) might know the leadership responsibility that entails. I take my commitment to family seriously, just as much as my ambitions to be a loving father, and an incredible partner.
I've made big mistakes, and I am grateful for them
In another life, I've been arrogant, I've been dismissive of my partner’s needs, I've been callous towards my own emotional health, and I've prioritized my career over my relationships. One time I even left the toilet seat up and hair in the shower in the same day. But if you met me today, you'd be surprised that I was any of these things. There are no better teachers than the mistakes, and no better tuition than the consequences. I like to think that I was a good partner in the past, but I know I am a better partner today. (Point of pride: I’m still friends with all my exes).
- mind: photography, cinematography, reading, music (listening), science & engineering, climate change, philosophy, politics, theatre, stand up comedy (watching and performing!), writing
- body: climbing, long-distance running (training for 50 mile this year), yoga, tennis, backpacking, dancing, saunas(!), and I want to learn backcountry skiing/splitboarding this year
- Are open-minded, play by your own rules
- Align with me politically, and bookishly
- Are a different person than you were last year
- Love climbing and mountain stuff
- Will join me in kitchen karaoke and dance
- Promise not to lie if my food is bad
- Laugh at my jokes, even if they're bad
If you think this is worth a shot, email me: date at westleydang diddlydot com