Regarding Cute-Meets

AJ asked us to define “cute-meet.” Here’s the Wikipedia version:

meet-cute is a situation in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing.[1] It can also be applied to two people destined to become buddies.[2]

This type of situation is a staple of romantic comedies, commonly involving contrived, unusual, or comic circumstances. The technique creates an artificial situation contrived by the filmmakers in order to bring together characters in an entertaining manner. Frequently the meet-cute leads to a humorous clash of personalities or beliefs, embarrassing situations, or comical misunderstandings that further drive the plot.

So, in a romance novel we might have something like this… the female protag is drawing seditious cartoons for publication against the monarchy and handing them over to her contact for payment late at night… in a whorehouse. At the same time, a group of the king’s men, which includes a double agent, is on the hunt for a couple traitors to the crown. The hero/double agent finds the heroine and her contact in a room exchanging money. She has to pretend she’s a whore. This would be the first scene, a whole mistaken identity motif. Chaos ensues and she escapes. As the protags encounter each other subsequently, he continues to believe she’s a whore; she thinks he’s a disgusting soldier for the king.

(Btw, I didn’t just make this up because of my awesome talents — this was an actual story, though I can’t remember the title offhand.)

A perfect example of a cute-meet in a modern romance is You’ve Got MailTwo people meet online anonymously and like each other a bunch… then they meet in meatspace and dislike each other — well, she hates him anyway. It’s a great set-up.

In actual, real meatspace, most meets are not of the cute variety. We don’t often meet our romantic partner by rear-ending his car, for example. It’s more likely that we’d see him over and over again in a social or work environment or get introduced as a friend of a friend, etc. I don’t consider dating-site meets to be cute at all — they’re the opposite of cute. Whenever you’re trying to meet someone, cuteness goes out the window. Sorry, I don’t make the rules here.

Cuteness implies that the parties are not looking for anyone, at least not in the obvious way — she may be looking for subjects for a magazine article on dating sites and put up a “fake” profile, yada. He may be a cop looking for the “Dating Site Amex Card Scammer.” There ya go. (I did just make this up, thank you.)

Hope that helps!


17 responses to “Regarding Cute-Meets

  1. Paula, do you have any real-life cute meets to share with us from your own life?


  2. I may use the term too broadly. I just mean any random unexpected real world meeting that leads to romance. The meeting itself can be mundane as hell.

    So by my definition, I met Sunny in a cute-meet manner. (Cute-meet is so much more euphonious than meet-cute.) I was depressed over a breakup (G) and went to the strange burner party … she was with her strange burner friends and went to paint and stuff … by two in the morning I was dancing all by myself in the DJ dome by the dim glow of rope lights, and she was attracted somehow to my vibe, and after ten minutes or so I finally realized she was there, and we just sort of started dancing together, touching hands, within an hour kissing a little bit … apparently this is not an unusual follow-the-energy meetup in her world, but it blew my mind enough I asked for her number when her friends finally dragged her away shortly before sunrise … and that strange attraction has been validated by almost eight months now of dating, out of town trips, side adventures with other lovers, philosophical paradigm shifts, sleepless nights, unbelievably numerous connections, injuries, spousal drama, et cetera et cetera.

    Y’all know how gekko and I met, and it wasn’t via cute-meet, but she was awfully cute when we met, and continues to be each time, so maybe that counts?

    And A, whom I went out with a few times a month or so ago until she decided we were headed for intimacy except there wasn’t going to be any intimacy so long as I had others to be intimate with (a fair and common philosophy but by no means universal) and therefore we needed to stop, was also met sort of cute-meetily, when we collided over the hired musician, me to chat about trumpets, she to chat about availability for future events.

    G also said quite clearly (after we stopped having sex) that she doesn’t have sex with friends. I am not clear on the meaning of that. I was very good friends with my wife before, during, and after our engagement, and am very good friends with Sunny and gekko. I am not comfortable with the notion of having sex without an emotional bond, and I find “friends with benefits” to be kind of an offensive term. I have woman friends it would squick me out to try and have sex with no matter how physically attractive they are. So maybe I’m hung up on the different meanings of “friend”, which like “love” can mean many different things.

    Well, I wrote so much I forgot the question.


    • Yah, typical male “confusion” over the friendship/sex concept. I don’t believe for one minute you don’t know exactly what I mean, Don. This is the kind of wordtwisty stuff the guy last week did that drove me bonkers (he was also an engineer if that is relevant). But since I am not romantically involved with you at all I can laugh at this as opposed to going postal.


    • Well, like I said, sex without an emotional connection is weird for me. I am learning that with many women that is not the case, and that I have a somewhat puritanical attitude about casual sex I need either to understand and get over, or head back towards the one-on-one-only paradigm — which I won’t because there’s too much emotional connection at stake in the relationships I have built.

      I have plenty of eligible-seeming woman friends I would never propose sex with, whether working out my issues over casual sex or not. So no, I don’t know what confusion you mean, that would drive you bonkers if you couldn’t laugh it off. (I understood perfectly what G was talking about except for the unstated specific meaning of the word “friend”. She couldn’t be with me with, in her mind, the shadows of others in the room. Not an issue I can relate to, but I understand it.)


      • Ok, I am still highly pissed off, which is good as it motivates me to stick to The Plan until it becomes a new habit instead of my old stupid habit of mindless searching. Anyway. I can understand the concept of having two loves if one has the time to give enough caring and attention to each so no one feels neglected (easier of course if the two also have two+). Just because it’s not something I would do doesn’t mean I don’t get it… though most men I’ve met are too busy for even one relationship. What i meant was the idea of having a regular casual type of friendship include sex (this doesn’t preclude some caring, but it’s doubtful you’re gonna get much)… and I am adamantly opposed to this for me. Of course I would be “friends” with my romantic partner, but it would be a significantly higher level friendship where we’d really be there for the other person. Here’s my example: I really ought to have a baseline colonoscopy soon. There is no one on the planet except J that I would ask to drive me to/from. If I had a real boyfriend I loved and vice versa, this is the kind of thing we’d do for each other. Now, isn’t that fucking romantic?? 🙂


      • “a regular casual type of friendship include sex” doesn’t appeal to me either. Repeating the point in case I wasn’t clear.

        So okay, friends who are lovers versus friends who are not. Easy distinction. I guess my confusion arose from G seeming to say that she wouldn’t sleep with me because we were “friends,” even though we had already slept together plenty. It was really an ending of our relationship, and the terms she used to say so were confusing to me. I can get really simplistic sometimes.

        I drove myself to my colonoscopy. Smirked secretly at other men in the room whose wives had brought them. This because I know many men have a problem that is more psychological than physical with the probe and I felt all superior not needing a hand to hold. I’ve since backed off that attitude. I imagine it’s real nice to have a caring partner like that but at the time I preferred what seemed like independence.


      • Not sure I am following the issue, or if there is an issue. But I’ll wade in anyway.

        I have friends where the thought of having sex with them oogs me.

        I have had casual sex with men to whom I was not overly attracted, but didn’t find it satisfactory. I stopped. I don’t plan to repeat that, ever.

        I have friends to whom I am attracted. I may or may not decide to have sex with them (have an on-going one now in fact). I may develop a romantic connection over time, or I may not. I expect that if I do not, the sexual interaction will end sooner rather than later. E started this way, but we’ve grown a good deal closer.

        I have lovers, men whom I love and with whom I intend to enjoy a very long, intimate and wonderful relationship. I have sex with them. They are most assuredly friends. The relationship with each started with us being friends who found one another sexually attractive, and the friendship with two of them is and was deep, close, aligned.

        I understand “friends with benefits” to encompass casual friendship with or without sexual attraction. So for me, I presently have only one sort of FWB thing going.

        I don’t tie sex to love. I also don’t tie it to some expectation. A former co-worker turned sex into a form of ownership. Sex, for me starts as something fun, itch-scratching. When it’s paired with love, it becomes absofuckinglutely wonderful, approaching sacred in a way.


  3. Sea of Love, Body Heat, The Big Sleep etc. The whole noir genre depends on such contrived meetings, though you’d hardly describe them as cute.


  4. I met my husband while teaching a class. He was the jerk attendee who gave me a hard time the whole time. It was not cute.

    However, I do have a good friend who met her husband when the fire alarm in her apartment building went off in the middle of the night and she had to go outside in the freezing cold in her pajamas (he was another tenant). That’s pretty cute.

    My favorite is When Harry Met Sally, where the entire first act is based on them meeting cute over and over and over again.


  5. Interesting, Don, that you say you have a somewhat puritanical notion about casual sex you need to get over.

    Why do you need to get over that? Or do you mean you want to get over it so you can have more sex with more people? I get that, why someone might want that. I don’t get why it’s necessary to assume prefering NOT to have casual sex is immature (my word) or Puritanical (yours).

    The sex is simply hygiene YAY MORE SEX notiion is all very well and good but lots of people don’t work that way, emotionally. And not necessarily because they are fucked up. Because they know they have a lot to lose, or because the particular way they see sex as sacred involves one partner, or because they want to simplify things, or because they know themselves and know that’s what works best for them. Or what a lot of us have known, one time or another: that you are so crazy about that other person that others just don’t even come into view.


    • I know. Why at my age would I want to understand and come to terms with activity most people experienced and discarded when they were twenty? Well, I want to understand and experience life from the inside, and I’m flexible, and I want to to strengthen the relationships I have in which said activity might have caused me some personal difficulty. I am still trying to understand what I’m trying to do, what I really want, so forth.

      I’ve never experienced others not coming into view. I acknowledge the possibility. But maybe it is because I’ve never been quite that wrapped up in someone that I tend now to gravitate towards women who, while being genuinely loving, are also more open. And it is to understand them better, and process the hurt that can come with loving them, some of which has its roots in my own youthful experiences (important point!), that I want to come to terms with people being more casual than is my natural wont.

      Definitely experimenting with the recipe here.

      And when I say “them” I may or may not be generalizing a “she” you don’t know. Minor point there.


  6. I met my husband at work. It was Halloween, and I was passing out trays to patients while wearing a creepy mask. Which I now realize was a really stupid idea, but most of these patients were so gorked they didn’t notice. That or I wasn’t as cute as I thought I was.

    Anyway, Mac’s boss had a crush on me, so on some pretense he dragged Mac down to the floor where I was working. I thought Mac was sort of cute (but not the boss) and perhaps became flirtatious.

    Mac, on the other hand, freaked out. It seems his sisters had lured him down to the spooky basement of their spooky house when he was a kid, and they were wearing masks, and he was so terrified he started having convulsions. No one ever told this story to the parents, BTW. But after that the girls started being nicer to him because they knew they’d get the shit beat out of them if they killed or otherwise ruined The Boy, The One Carrying The Family Name. Oh, and that night his grandfather died, too, so you can imagine. . .

    We finally went out. He picked me up in a Mercedes. Which turned out to be a kind of mask because it was his roommate’s car, not his.

    I don’t know if that’s cute or not. It’s what happened.


  7. (The dead grandfather lived in the attic of the spooky house, which tells you something about his family, that they made the ancient ones climb the back stairs to the third floor. . .)


  8. Teacake: Sorry, but the “jerk”/teacher class meet sounds pretty darn cute to me!

    Don: WP won’t let me respond in another layer to your comment up there, lol. Re the colonoscopy, it’s not so much the hand-holding during, but the driving home afterwards. Everything with me comes down to driving, ultimately. I was told to get a driver because I’d be too drugged/groggy to drive myself home.

    I assume G meant that you are ONLY friends, not MORE THAN friends and she wanted the more than to continue (plus exclusivity). Some people are not clear, I agree. I am clear, though some men will deliberately pretend to misunderstand for their own selfish purposes. I can’t abide this because I deliberately choose highly intelligent men. Only once recently I chose an average guy, to see how that would go — disaster, but not because of word games. Then again, the smart guys have also been disasters, so whatever.

    Chris.tine: Nice story! Thanks for sharing.

    I suppose I have “puritanical” notions about casual sex, though you might not think so if you viewed my experiences over the last 9 months from a distance without knowing that each time I truly thought, after applying my very selective filtering process (OK except for average-IQ guy), that there was a VERY GOOD CHANCE this would turn into an LTR!! Gah. This only proves how awful my judgment is and how bad I am at detecting liars and monsters and that I should give up the entire thing, which I have… and on my one-month anniversary, July 25th, I shall reward myself with a new purse. My 6-month anniversary will be Christmas, so you can bet I will be getting myself an awesome gift, nothing to do with the holiday itself. 🙂


  9. To be clear, G knew going in I was not going to be monogamous. I guess she liked me enough to give it a try. We really were monogamous in practice — but I had a visit to gekko scheduled and so G needed fair knowledge. In time, she decided that just wasn’t going to work out. Always be up front, always be honest. So we’re friends-friends, in that sort of distant way of people who really have little in common outside of sex and a natural sympatico.

    Re Puritanical, I tend to be harsh on myself. I wrestle with my naturally deep and serious outlook versus what I perceive to be my developmental needs at this time and am applying a bit of editing to the description. I use it to castigate myself for being knee-jerk judgmental where consciously I don’t wish to be.

    ll this stuff that won’t go in my own blog.


  10. Thanks for the definition. It’s a very weird phrase to my way of thinking. Not at all properly descriptive.


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