I guess it’s been almost a decade now since I’ve had to deal with the dating scene, and going on two decades since I had my first real boyfriend, but I can still remember my youthful fantasies about finding “The Perfect Guy.”
I didn’t have much to go on back then in terms of life experience, but I figured he should be as noble and intelligent as Captain Picard, as handsome as Denzel Washington, as brave and adventurous as Indiana Jones, as ass-kicking as Chuck Norris, as clever (but less mustachioed) as Magnum, P.I., as playful and witty as Bruce Willis on “Moonlighting,” as resourceful as MacGyver, as sensitive and light on his feet as Patrick Swayze, and the sort of husband and father that would make Cliff Huxtable proud. I was willing to compromise on the rest.
Somewhere between adolescence and the end of my first marriage, I realized it might be wise to consider a bit more flexibility in certain areas. Perhaps a gigantic mustache wasn’t necessarily a deal-breaker after all.
Eventually I realized that what I really wanted most in a partner was someone who was kind, intelligent and mature, a good communicator, and most importantly, someone who knew how to be a great friend. I was fortunate enough to find that (and much more), and while it would be awesome if the deal included meticulous housekeeping and no snoring, unfortunately that didn’t come with the package. Waddayagunnado?
When I started working as a divorce attorney, one of the first things I noticed was how many marriages seem to end primarily as the result of failed expectations that may not have been very realistic in the first place. It’s never my place to judge what’s right for another person’s relationships, but it can be sad on the occasions where I feel like one or both parties were expecting more than they’ll probably ever find in another mortal being.
I think we’re all capable of expecting a little too much from others at times, but judging from several dating ads I’ve seen passed around the Internet the past few weeks, some folks really know how to push their limits.
The one that really cracked me up was from a 39-year-old artist/poet/musician/composer from Austin who created a special website devoted to finding Ms. Right. Although he’s horrifyingly racist, glaringly misogynistic, not especially attractive, admittedly overweight, and he sounds absolutely dreadful from his description of his personality, his list of requirements for a mate is so ridiculous it made it my head spin.
You’ll want to Google “Sleepless in Austin” if you’re interested in beholding the most amazing creature to walk this Earth. Before you get your hopes up single moms, be advised this romantic charmer strongly prefers women who’ve never had kids. Not because he hates kids, of course, because that wouldn’t quite gel with his highly sensitive and caring personality. He simply disapproves of the unsightly ways childbearing alters God’s greatest work of art (the female body). Something about stretch marks and disfigured genitalia.
But don’t give up too fast, however, because marring your body to bear new life is not an ABSOLUTE deal breaker. He’s willing to give consideration on a case-by-case basis, which I’m assuming includes his own customized gynecological exam, and he points out that cosmetic reconstructive surgery is always a possibility. But he’ll get to that when he’s done having your tattoos lasered off because, gross.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea that a guy who seems like he probably couldn’t pay for a date seems to think he’ll find a woman with a heart of gold who meets his list of 9,000 precise criteria, but in reality, I guess it’s a good thing he’s so up-front about what he expects in a mate. At least there won’t be any surprises when you find out you won’t be allowed to wear glasses in his presence because, yuck. I wish him the best of luck.
Of course it’s not just the guys that have ridiculous expectations when it comes to relationships. I’ve known quite a few young ladies who seem to believe it’s perfectly reasonable to expect to find a man with the looks and bank account of Jon Hamm who will solve all their problems and treat them like a fairytale princess forever and ever. Perhaps there’s a chance if you actually ARE a fairytale princess, but otherwise, not so much.
Of course once you’ve actually found the right person, the hard part is finding a way to enjoy sharing your life together year after year. I see no cause for shame in ending unhappy relationships, and I’ve never really thought of divorce as a “failure.” Sometimes things don’t work out and that’s OK. Nevertheless, I think “not perfect” and “not working” are two very different things, and I hate to see relationships end because of unrealistic expectations. It’s especially frustrating to see “experts” encouraging people to throw in the towel as soon as they hit rough waters.
I recently came across a Huffington Post “Divorce Advice” article listing five signs it’s time to call it quits, written by some psychologist who fancies herself a relationship expert. Her signs include: (a) Traits you used to love about your partner have become annoying, and (b) After an initial period of having eyes only for your mate, you suddenly find yourself noticing the sexy barista.
Ha! No offense to the writer or her fancy PhD, but that kind of sounds like it was written by a 13-year-old girl who’s never been in a relationship for more than a year. There are plenty of perfectly valid reasons to end a marriage, but these are pretty ridiculous. Few things are ever certain in life, but I can assure you of these three: Spouses will always have annoying quirks, there will always be sexy baristas, and Sleepless in Austin will always be single.