Ten years ago, when I was slightly younger and considerably stupider, I informed my mother that there was no possible way that I’d marry a man who hadn’t gone to college.
The fact that I said this in front of my dad, who himself was not a college grad, makes me a heartless little brat.
Go ahead, you may hate me for a moment.
Ok, now stop.
At the time, I wasn’t really aware of what TRULY makes a relationship work, and couldn’t conceive of having anything in common with a man who hadn’t had the same upbringing I had, both socially and academically. What would I talk about with someone who wasn’t involved in music and theater? How could I relate to someone that didn’t read as many books as I did?!
You are still hating. STOPPIT NOW.
I was young, and very foolish.
However, that didn’t stop me from pursuing my pre-conceived notion of compatibility for the majority of my dating life. In high school, I dated the boys who were in the music and theater programs. Some were “boyfriends” simply because we spent so much time together. There was very little “spark,” but I didn’t know at that time that I should be looking for “spark.” Others were ALL spark, and very little else. Needless to say, those didn’t work out well.
In college as well, I continued to primarily date the music majors with whom I spent the majority of my time. It was a natural result of hours spent in class, rehearsal and practicing with the same people for 4 years, but it did lead to a slightly incestuous dating environment.
After college, my last “music major” relationship fizzled out as I started to see that my “type” tended to be slightly out of touch with what was needed to make it in the big bad world outside of the college bubble. They were more focused on their performing/composing/grad schooling and less on their “getting a driver’s license” or “two-way street relationship-ing.” It was a turn-off to me, who had observed a fantastic work ethic in my dad and jumped right in to the workforce the week after graduation. Even though I was “taking a year off” to decide if I wanted to pursue grad school, I knew that I needed a steady income and insurance, and couldn’t afford to waste time.
Also, as a result of no longer being in the music cocoon, I started broadening my definition of my “type.” He had to be a hard worker, but also have some common interests. He didn’t have to be a college graduate, but had to be ok with the fact that I was (Seriously, I dated one guy who was NOT)(It didn’t last long! Surprise!). We had to have the same goals for life, and mostly agree on things like politics and religion. (Sorry- I’ve said it before and will say it again: unless you are simply voting for the party your parents did, your political affiliation speaks volumes for what is important to you as a person. Also, since I’m far more spiritual than religious, I’d have to date someone that was ok with that.)
In fact, the last person that I dated before Army Boy all but cemented my desire to throw my preconceived marital notions out the window. He was an upper-middle class young man from Long Island, who had his Master’s degree in Jazz performance and a music teaching position. He was my “perfect guy” on paper, and my parents were genuinely on the fence as to whether he was “The One.”
He was also arrogant, and frequently spoke down to me about music, the thing we’d both majored in. (My college was far better, by the way.) He was self-centered, and thought that I was “not living to my potential” when I’d decided that I was happy pursuing a career in my field rather than taking on debt to go back and get a Master’s.
All of that is to say that my college educated, music-loving, book reading Perfect Guy? Not so perfect, actually. Could there be a guy out there somewhere with all those things that IS perfect for me? Eh, maybe. Not so worried currently. 😉 I was lucky enough to learn relatively young (ie. 22 and just out of college) that my preconceived notion of what I needed in a man might not withstand the test of time. Oddly, maybe I was lucky to have dated some assholes at a young age who disproved my theory.
However, I can’t emphasize enough how important that is to women who are still out there in the sucktastic world of dating. I wish that there was a truly tactful way (because clearly I am not the tactful type) of saying “What you think you want? Probably wrong.”
Army Boy and I discussed this not too long ago after meeting a not-so-lovely guy who was dating one of my close friends.
“My God, he was WRETCHED,” I said, as we lay in bed that night.
“Yeah… I thought Friend A was smarter than that!” he agreed.
“Did you notice what she did, though? She said, “This is Douchebag. He’s a financial consultant and went to SnottyCollege, and has a house in Lametown,” I pointed out.
“I’m not sure I’m following.”
“She gave out his resume when she introduced him. She didn’t necessarily say, ‘He’s wonderful and we have a great time together,’ it was more of a list of his vital stats. She’s more focused on the ‘man-on-paper,’ than the guy himself!”
“You’re scary. And right. But mostly scary.”
“And then there’s Friend B… She dated Beemer who worked for the family real estate business, had a boat and a Mercedes and also had intimacy issues. And Raven, who didn’t have a job but was also from money and whose parents were helping him restore a house? And Marine, who came from money in California, had some kind of a military history that we couldn’t figure out, also didn’t work and was up to his eyeballs in debt… but was going to HOPKINS. And these guys are total jerks! Why is it that girls are willing to overlook the sarcasm, rude behavior, lack of jobs… because of Hopkins? And Boats? Because guys with these characteristics are who they thought they’d marry way back when?”
“Babe, if you’d looked at me on paper, do you think we’d be compatible?” he asked bravely. “I didn’t get a degree because of Iraq, I worked as a carpenter and I was still married. I don’t read like you do, and like music even if I don’t understand everything about it that you do.”
“When I was younger? No. But luckily, I wised up A LOT by the time we’d met, so I didn’t miss the best possible man for me.”
(gag spew barf)
My point, if you’ve stuck with me through all the tangents, is that searching for your younger self’s preconceived notion of “The Perfect Guy” might not be the healthiest way to attack the dating pool. My High School Best Friend, who we always knew was going to be a fabulous doctor, is currently in med school and engaged to the most charming and wonderful English chap who happens to be a fellow med student.
Yes, there are A LOT of flawed people out there, and they might be the reason why so many hot women my age are still single. The Boy-Men of Our Generation are going to be legendary in the future- stories will be written, songs will be sung. I am also NOT EVER FOR A SECOND saying to settle. THAT is not the point. But maybe, take a little look a your list of non-negotiables… and see if there isn’t a little room to grow.*
(*Hint- if “curly hair” is a non-negotiable? It’s back to the drawing board for you, Sister.)