Explaining Dating with Shirt Theory – Part 1

In Dating Advice That Works For You, I mentioned that a given piece of dating advice might not apply to you because everyone is different. In this post, I use “Shirt Theory” to elaborate on one major difference: the relative importance of the physical vs. emotional parts of a relationship to you.

Note: I wish to credit an anonymous friend who helped me develop this theory.

Red Shirts and Green Shirts

Shirt Theory places people on a spectrum between two extremes, although there is an extra (and dark) category that I’ll explain later:

  1. Red Shirters: value the physical over the emotional. Their primal urge for sex drives the relationship, so the quantity and quality of it is extremely important.
  2. Green Shirters: value the emotional over the physical. They enjoy spending time with each other doing activities, talking, and laughing. The core of their relationships is based on friendship – sex is only a bonus on top. Most likely, they started as friends to being with.

Mismatching Shirts

Shirt Theory states that two people only click if they wear the same colored shirt. Tension and misunderstanding comes from mismatching shirts. This cleanly explains different experiences people have with dating. Consider the following two scenarios:

  1. Red Shirter asking out a Green Shirter: The Red Shirter might begin with overt sexual overtures, such as an invitation for sex on a first date. The Green Shirter would see this approach as too sexual & pushy, and might say things like “people have personalities and are more than just bodies” and/or regard this as sexual harassment.
  2. Green Shirter asking out a Red Shirter: The Green Shirter will first try to get to know the Red Shirter by doing activities that platonic friends might do. Their objective is to find out if there’s a good match before moving on to anything physical. In doing so, the Green Shirter might be accused of being a “Nice Guy” – the Red Shirter might think that the Green Shirter is “asexual”, is “not assertive”, or “is trying to manipulate me into sex by pretending to be friends”.

In both cases, the person doing the asking would be considered “creepy”, which is why it’s such a poor choice of word.

Neither Shirt is Superior

We Americans stigmatize rampant sexuality. No one wants to be known as the person who “gets around” and it could even hurt your chances at employment. As a result, Red Shirters hide among us, living in the shadows.

Your sex drive, religion, and/or values may inform your decision to wear a Red or Green shirt. But I don’t believe we should judge people for choosing one shirt over the other:

  • Red Shirters: If two adults mutual consent to an overtly sexual relationship, who are we to judge whether their Red Shirt relationship is better or worse than ours?
  • Green Shirters: If two adults have a “boring” relationship where they go to museums with each other but have never kissed, is their Green Shirt relationship not as real as ours?

Having said that, I personally believe that it is very difficult for a Red Shirt relationship to last because the frequency of sex will inevitably decline. I believe that friendship, and therefore the Green Shirt approach, results in the most stable long-term relationships. As a result, this blog primarily describes the Green Shirt approach.

In Part 2, I will complete this theory by examining Black Shirts.

Until next time my friends, keep dating!


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