Is it ok to reject a Tinder-match on the basis of their mental health? How about avoiding the whole situation, by specifying it as a ‘deal breaker’ in your profile? While everyone agrees that individuals should have the freedom to date (or not) whoever they like, the internet community is split over the extent to which it is acceptable to pick and choose based on immutable characteristics.
When it comes to physical preferences, the general consensus seems to be: date the best looking people you can attract. However, when it comes to mental health, people are less certain. For one woman whose ‘Boyfriend Checklist’ recently went viral, there is nothing wrong with looking for good mental health in a romantic partner. For others it’s naive, insulting and impossible to quantify.
In any case, the 26 year old Melburnian included “mental health” in her list of desirable attributes for a boyfriend, which she recently went on channel 9’s Today Show to discuss. Amongst other things, these included: the ability to hold an intellectual conversation, being reliable, being good at dirty talk, not being a big drinker and having good physical and mental health.
She then left a pile of these letters in a letter box on the side of a hiking trail, as she told channel 9, “To have a humorous and non conventional approach to dating… and also a bit of a social experiment as well.” Whether it’s funny we’ll leave up to you, but in terms of the “social experiment” side of it, she clearly succeeded, sparking a debate on the online forum, Reddit.
While some took issue with the list itself: “This woman could do with some drink or drugs to chill the f*ck out, and actually present men with the option of entering a relationship that doesn’t sound like a meeting with the ATO,” most of the criticism was based on her stance on mental health.
“(I want) someone in good physical and mental health. I’m not your therapist. The relationship quickly becomes unsexy.”
This led many Reddit commenters to call her immature and hypocritical, with one asking, “If you meet someone who can possibly be the love of your life and they have bad mental health at that moment would you turn them down?”. Others skipped the thoughtfulness, going straight to memes: “Wants a committed long-term relationship; refuses to be supportive of a partner’s mental health.”
And others were just plain pissed: “Calling poor mental health ‘unsexy’ is potentially the most vile commentary I’ve ever heard.” In response to this, during her channel 9 interview the woman clarified that by, “Good mental health,” she just meant, “Someone who’s not emotionally dependant.”
While some Reddit commenters thought this was obvious (“The way I understood it is; don’t… depend on me for your happiness and mental stability”) and understood her point of view (“I can empathise with someone who just wants a well balanced person to move forward with… rather than… trying to rope someone back to normality”), others said the way she expressed it was counter productive.
“Perhaps some of the ‘criteria’ aren’t far out the realm of what many people reasonably look for in relationships (whether they explicitly articulate them or not)… I just think that relationships are inherently more nuanced than compiling a simplified and rather abrasively worded list of idealised traits you want in a partner.”