Friday, May 3, 2013

Minimum requirements

Not too long ago, I participated in a twitter chat about dating. One of the questions asked was, "Why do women marry men who are not really marriage material?" My reply was also my first thought - because they think they can "fix" him.

I know this because years ago, a guy from work told me about a conversation he overheard between his new wife (of about six months) and her mother. His wife said, "I almost have him fixed, mom."

For many women, marriage is the main goal when choosing dates. Little things, like whether they have
anything in common or whether or not she even likes him, take second place to concerns like his job, his income, how good he is with kids, whether or not he wants kids, his family, etc.

They figure they can change (or "fix") whatever might be wrong, as long as they're working with a solid foundation. After all, you can guilt a guy away from the big game, or force him to have dinner with your parents, but if he can't afford the house you can you work with that?!

Sometimes, marriage isn't the goal. Take women my age, for example (late 30s to - gulp - early 40s). Most of the time we already have kids (or have come to the conclusion we don't want them). We may have already been married once, or decided it doesn't really matter. We may be looking for a committed relationship, but usually the dreams of the white picket fence and 2.2 kids have evaporated, if they even ever existed.

That doesn't mean we don't want a specific type of guy. Whether it's his job, or his income, or his love for cats, there is something that we want in a guy before we graduate from dating to relationship.

I imagine we have all, at some point, convinced ourselves that we could fix or replace whatever was missing or not working. As long as he has those minimum requirements, we can work with anything.

A few months back, when I met a guy who had a good job, owned a house, and a car, and was polite and didn't cancel dates, I wondered if I'd hit the jackpot. Successful, handsome, nice - and he liked me. I felt like I'd found a unicorn!

After a few dates, though, I found something was missing. That little "something extra." No butterflies. Some friends thought I should stick it out. Maybe feelings would develop - and how was I ever going to find another guy with his act together!? I thought that was a lousy idea - because others have done the same to me, with bad results.

I don't feel like I should have to settle for my minimum requirements. Especially things like a job and a car and a stable living arrangement, which should really be givens when a guy is 30 or 40-something. Of course the guys I date should be "required" to have those things. That doesn't mean I should settle for the first guy who offers them.

I'm better than my minimum requirements - and the guy for me will be better, too.

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