Monday, July 26, 2010

Deal or No Deal?

New Self Help Book: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough
By: Lori Gottlieb

The author of this book is a 41 year-old, never been married, single mom who reflects on her dating past and what she wishes she would have known if she were 26 again. Well lucky for me she finished this book while I was on the cusp of 26 and wanting to learn from her mistakes and avoid making any more of my own….well at least in the relationship department.

As I read her book there were so many instances where I saw myself making the same classic mistakes that would only get me NOWHERE! First we have to ask our 26 plus single did we get here?

Well here I am, 27 years old, still single, and I am thinking to myself, “Well I’ve waited this long...I am not going to settle now.” We (other 26+ singles and I ) are surrounded by all our married friends and family who continually praise us and tell us what a great catch we are and how they just can’t believe we have not been snatched up! I find myself starting to believe that I am the total catch. I mean my code name is Tiffany A. Catch afterall…a name I chose for myself before I ever read this book, which shows how much I was buying into myself being a total prize, leaving me with an inflated sense that I would make an ideal mate. Not only that, but I also find myself looking for a long LIST of qualities. I want to find someone who is handsome, a good dresser but not gay, smart but not nerdy smart, witty-funny smart, ambitious, interesting and edgy but not too edgy, normal but not boring guy. This idealistic list has been causing me to dismiss good quality guys for frivolous non-deal breaking reasons.

I think everyone can look back at their dating past and think of at least one good guy they let get away because of a SILLY deal breaker! For me, it was John, a high school crush and friend. Years later his mother decided that we should date and marry. John was an obedient son, so we went out. He was a good, funny guy, and we had always been close. In fact I had liked him before he ever liked me, but I ended things with him because I wanted him to want me because HE wanted me, not because his mother had told him to. Now he is happily married with three kids and is a great husband and father. Although I do not have regrets, I admit my dismissal was frivolous. Was I expecting a song and dance declaring his undying love? Truth of the matter is that he was a kind and humble man, looking for a commitment, and willing to put up with ME! A read deal breaker would be a dishonest man, an unreligious man, or a mean man.

My married girlfriends’ husbands are nice guys, and they have a lot of the qualities that we wrote down on our lists but not ALL of them. A woman in the book “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” did just that - she married whom she called Mr. Predictable. This is what she had to say, “I think the difference between women who get married and women who don’t is that women who don’t get married never give up the idea that they’re gong to marry Brad Pitt. It doesn’t occur to you that maybe it’s okay if THE ONE doesn’t look like Brad Pitt and earn a gazillion dollars and make you go weak in the knees every time you’re together”. Instead we are holding on to our unrealistic LIST.

At this point the LIST hasn’t become a list of qualities we are searching out, but instead it has turned into a fault finding list. Well guess what...if we are looking for faults we are bound to find them because no one is perfect. In fact they say the predictor for happier marriages for people who so call “settle,” and by settle I mean they choose to marry someone who doesn’t meet all the criteria of their LIST, is that they have a more realistic expectation of their mate to not be perfect. The people who end up unhappily married are those who think they have found the perfect person, but become disappointed when they do not measure up.

Rachel Greenwald, a dating coach, describes what she too often sees happen, “I was in this failed relationship for a year, another for five years. Or, I kept getting back with my ex-boyfriend. Or, I knew after six months or a year that it wasn’t going anywhere, but I stayed hoping it would change.” Greenwald continues, “The men they’ve been attracted to have generally offered the exact opposite of what they actually wanted in the long run (key word) - stability, responsibility, compassion, groundedness, maturity, the desire for kids. Remember you don’t have time to waste on a guy because you are infatuated with him”. Uh Oh here I am...GUILTY!
It is about time I realize that I have been dating all wrong! This book isn’t even about lowering my standards. It is about maturing and recognizing what is really most important and having REASONABLE standards for a mate. Understanding what makes the difference between a good boyfriend and what makes for a good husband or wife. In the long haul of a marriage the qualities of someone who is stable and dependable are far more important than gorgeous and exciting. So from now on, I will stop ruling out guys for non-deal breaking reasons.

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