Are You GU?

If someone has ever hinted that they won’t date you because you’re “geographically undesirable,” then read this.

By Bob Strauss

ears ago, an attractive gal I’d been corresponding with via an online-dating site declared me romantically ineligible because I was those dreaded initials, G.U.—“geographically undesirable.” Did we live a continent away from each other? Not at all—she hailed from the upper west side of Manhattan, while I lived on a less fashionable part of the east side, perhaps a twenty-minute ride by bus or subway. Was she telling me the truth? That’s a more difficult question. On the one hand, perhaps she genuinely thought her life was so busy that she couldn’t afford to date someone who lived more than a few blocks away. On the other hand, maybe she wasn’t really that interested or was a neighborhood snob and was looking for a way to let me down gently.

So what should you do if you’re declared G.U. (or, conversely, if you’re about to make
It can be a way of saying, “You’re not worth it.”
that declaration yourself?) Here are a few issues to think about:

Some folks lead very hectic lives. As a lay-about, afternoon-TV-watching freelance writer, I sometimes don’t appreciate the fact that normal people have to commute to their nine-to-five (or eight-to-whenever) jobs, which doesn’t leave much time for dating—or shopping for groceries, for that matter. “I met a fellow online a while back and we really hit it off,” says Cathy from Royal Oaks, Michigan. “He lived in Canada, an hour’s drive away. I tried dating him for a month or two, but since I drive so much for work already, and was out of town a lot, I just didn't have the energy to sustain it even though I liked him.” So know that commuting time can be a factor for some folks. If the specter of being caught in traffic en route to seeing you is that intense for a person, maybe you two don’t have enough of an initial spark to make a go of it.

Do what you can to minimize the distance. If you hear the G.U. diagnosis from a potential date, get creative. Look online for a fantastic (or just funky) restaurant midway between your homes. Figure out which movie theatre is equidistant. Be willing to take on more than your share of travel time. “Since I work an early-ish shift,” says Jayne, a speech
My cutoff is a 30-minute drive.
therapist in Coral Gables, “I’m willing to drive to meet someone for a coffee date when they get done with work. Since I’m done with my day at 3 p.m., it’s not a problem and worth the effort in my book!” By trying this tactic, you can hopefully meet up a few times and get some chemistry cooking.

Love sometimes (but doesn’t always) conquer all. If you override your gut instincts and wind up dating someone the next town (or state, or country) over, be aware that a long-distance relationship can be just as stressful in its own way as moving in with your next-door neighbor after the second date. “I’m friends with a woman in Texas and I'm in Virginia,” says Mike. “We both feel we would make an excellent couple, but we both also feel that the distance would be too much of a strain on us. I did a long-distance relationship once before and it was brutal—I don't know if I could do it again.” Or, as the sadder but wiser Cathy puts it, “Usually, I automatically delete any messages from guys who don't live nearby. My cutoff is a 30-minute drive, 45 minutes if the guy is super-interesting.”

It’s not really where you live, it’s your (fill in the blank). As hinted in that last quote, geography is only one ingredient in that mysterious stew we call dating. If a gal is extra-cute and has a great sense of humor, you probably won’t mind that she lives on the wrong side of the tracks—but if you’re unsure of her other qualities, telling her she’s G.U. is a convenient way out. “The distance concerns are realistic,” says Kelly from New York, “but that shouldn’t be confused with an excuse that really means, ‘You might not be worth it.’ Some people have told me that I’d have to be drop-dead gorgeous (and perfect in every other way) to make up for my location, while for others, geography knows no bounds.” So before you deem someone G.U., ask yourself, are there other factors in the mix that might merit you travel a little further for this person? Sometimes, when it comes to matters of the heart, going a few miles more can possibly lead down the road to marriage… you’ll never know unless you’re flexible.

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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