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Your Love Standards And That List

Once upon a time you may have been a village maiden and the local matchmaker would have found you a husband — maybe the butcher, or the carpenter. His temperament and yours probably wouldn’t match, but you’d be expected to grow close with the passage of time.

That kind of long-term character contouring has little appeal for today’s senior woman. She craves a fast match with an attractive senior man, and she’s working from a “compatibility list” — things she insists on and things she won’t stand for.

ORGANIZING THE SEARCH

I’m not a fan of must-have lists. They don’t aid the quest; they imperil it. Right now, all over America, love-seekers are huddled over their Starbucks lattes, wondering how to extricate themselves from time-wasting chats with new “candidates” who don’t pass the test. “This woman looked totally hot on line,” I imagine one man thinking, “but 10 pounds over my weight limit is 10 pounds too many.” Women’s brains, too, are sifting silently through lists. Seth MacFarlane fan: Check. No kids at home: Check. Likes to ski: No. Ivy League: No.

How will anyone who is ruled by a list ever find a partner? Recently my friend Jason ended a “forever” relationship, his fourth this year. When I expressed my sympathies he actually responded, “I should have known not to get involved with her when I saw how far I’d strayed from my list.”

Technically speaking, none of us is list-less. A woman whose husband was  unfaithful wants a man who’s inclined to fidelity. The man whose wife squandered every available penny wants fiscal prudence next time. Both sexes are wary of a partner whose kids stand firm against “replacement” of a lost parent. On the positive side, widows and widowers often look for people who embody the best traits of their lost spouses.

KEEPING MYSTERY IN THE MATCH

The most realistic lists are unconscious ones, and what draws one person to another is ultimately unquantifiable, even mysterious. We can wish for a partner who is gorgeous, agile, and well-heeled, but life rarely delivers up the ideal. How is it not stupendous to find someone who combines average good looks and modest financial assets with a penchant for loving you madly? The man who is too old, too fat, too frugal, too bald, too not into Shakespeare – what if you take a break from lamenting his failings and take a good look at his strengths?

Love rarely happens when you are so hard at work vetting candidates that you miss the chance for spontaneity. It doesn’t happen when you are working hard to find a “suitable match”, not when you are trying to engineer love. Sometimes a man you dismissed at first turns out to be Old Mr. Right after all. Being available, being patient, wistfully looking for love is productive. Trying to make love conform to an imagined ideal is not. Less-than-list-perfect will suffice for the openhearted.

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'Your Love Standards And That List' have 16 comments

  1. March 1, 2017 @ 10:57 am Sienna

    Emma – These are 3 good criteria. I especially like “passions outside our relationship” which – among other things – means a partner who will respect your independence and isn’t simply looking for someone to lean on.

  2. February 27, 2017 @ 5:59 am Emma Smith

    Simplify your expectations. Get honest with yourself. I find that if we dig deeply enough we can boil down our relationship “must have” list to three things. My criteria are as follows: someone who is self-aware, someone who has passions outside of our relationship, and someone who embraces my sensitive nature. That’s it.

  3. June 10, 2016 @ 1:16 pm Your Love Standards And That List | Yury Z

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  4. June 3, 2016 @ 9:33 pm Nadz

    Hey guys we just launched a new dating app that’s like nothing else out there. It lets you read reviews of past dates to keep the weirdos away and specify exactly what kind of date you are looking for (how much you want to spend/be spent on you, what type of experience you’re looking for, and lots more. We weed out losers, spammers, and all the other nuisances you come to expect on most dating apps. The result is a high quality match that’s right for you.
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  5. April 10, 2016 @ 6:26 am Your Love Standards And That List | RJamesBuhr

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  6. March 13, 2016 @ 9:58 am Your Love Standards And That List | Glo Knows Why

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  7. February 5, 2016 @ 11:15 am SocialMike

    There is a difference between looking for your ideal partner, and searching for a dragon. Know your patterns, recognize them when they arise, and view the person as they really are, not as their resume advises.

  8. December 21, 2014 @ 1:17 pm Michelle

    Beautiful sentiments. i hope you find somebody.

  9. June 20, 2014 @ 12:05 am Karina H.

    A single man, but alone. A single lady, alone. We’re so near and yet so far. On-line dating has been such a failure. I look at the photos and I think i’ve found Mr. Right but he never answers my flirt. I’m nice looking, educated, friendly. Just one flirt back would change my whole life. On-line dating is hard on the ego.

  10. March 6, 2013 @ 10:10 pm Sienna

    Percy – All of us have certain types we are drawn to, but I’m guessing your attitude about nail polish might narrow your choices significantly.

  11. March 6, 2013 @ 6:32 pm Percy

    I have a list, and I’m sticking to it. Women are too flighty to be exempt from the list thing. Above all, she should not wear nail polish and never have had botox treatments.

  12. February 7, 2013 @ 9:54 am Candy

    Sorry – I have a list, because I’ve had too many disappointments.

  13. January 3, 2013 @ 10:20 am Geoff

    I would say that terse, modified lists serve a purpose. I would never date a woman who was fat or talked too much. I already had one of those.

  14. January 3, 2013 @ 9:10 am Mgirl

    I cling to my list. I don’t plan to get involved with anyone who is that far from my ideal.

  15. December 29, 2012 @ 6:03 am Trisha

    Lists have to be made. I’m too old to remember.

  16. December 21, 2012 @ 11:23 am Candy

    Good point. Spontaneity is lost when you carry around a list. I’ve seen those people in Starbucks, acting all haughty and like they can do better. They don’t even give the other person a chance. Lists will always limit you and they can cause you to miss something good that was right under your nose.


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