This Valentine’s Day, my heart goes out to everyone whose love went unrequited – once or many, many times, as it did for me. I wonder what would have happened if I’d gone out with the guys who liked me and not spent all my time liking guys who didn’t. I thought I was discriminating. Some people will go out with anyone. I once had a friend who would go out with any guy who asked her. She even dated her own roommate. While I wouldn’t have wanted to be like her, I think “discriminating” was really detrimental.
I used to hate Valentine’s Day. I spent seven years between marriages as a single girl and I hated it. All I wanted was to fall in love. I dated from time to time, but I’m not one of those women who needed to have a boyfriend, so if the guy wasn’t right, I didn’t keep him on the payroll. There were times I was desperate for a date – it was the companionship, not the sex – and I did initiate one relationship just to avoid showing up to social events alone. Everybody knew he was just a stopgap partner. We called him “short-term parking.”
It was really hard to go through all those years essentially alone and wondering what was wrong with me. Why I couldn’t meet the right guy? And then I met Matt and we fell in love and that was that. He’d broken up with his first wife seven months before we met. So in my “everything happens for a reason” mindset, I believed I had to be available when he came along.
I feel for my single friends, but there’s a limit to my sympathy. I have several women friends who are in their late 30s or early 40s and still single. And all they want to do is meet Mr. Right. And they don’t know why it’s taking so long.
I do. The truth is that they’re not doing it right. They’re overlooking the men who would be good partners because they’re focusing on the superficial. One of them likes the guys who hang out in the free weight room at the gym and go clubbing at night – not exactly husband and father material. Another friend is tall and she has a height requirement for her men. I wanted to fix her up with a wonderful guy, and I bet they would have liked each other, but she rejected him upon learning he was two inches shorter than her. Another friend likes country boys – to her credit, she does date outside the genre, but a boy has to be country for serious consideration. Plus, she’s looking in D.C. – it’s not exactly Nashville. She also excludes divorced men from her roster. She doesn’t understand that if a guy hasn’t been married by the time he’s 40, it’s a good bet that something’s wrong with him.
I wish all of these girlfriends well, and I actively pray that they’ll find someone, but I think they have to focus on finding the right person, rather than the right type. My husband says they’re too picky, and I see what he means by that, but if choosing a life partner isn’t something to be picky about, then what is? I applaud their pickiness when they reject someone who isn’t right, because despite their age, they won’t settle. No one should settle. Settling breeds divorce. But passing over possible partners for superficial reasons is what keeps them single.
Although they’ve had lots of practice dating, they still don’t realize what they’re looking for. They should be saying, “I want a new best friend who listens to 20 percent of what I say, that I can count on to get things done 10 percent of the time, with whom I can argue 10 percent of the time, and will spend the remaining 60 percent of the time asking for sex.” That’s a husband, girls. In ten years, you’re going to care more about how often he takes out the garbage than how muscular or how tall or how country he is.
If my friends in the audience still want to find a man, I’ll share this story. I don’t know if I did anything magical to find Matt, but I did follow a friend’s advice. She told me to write down all the qualities I wanted in a man, and tuck that piece of paper in my Bible. I did. I came across the paper the first year we were married and Matt had all the qualities I’d listed. Maybe there was some magic in that slip of paper. I’m sure God brought us together. I don’t know if the paper in my Bible helped, but it certainly seems that way. It didn’t hurt. And for my single friends rejecting guys out of hand, divine intervention may be the only way they’ll find exactly what they’re looking for. The practice is not limited to Bibles. Any sacred tome will do.
Maybe by writing those qualities down, I was able to overlook the superficial qualities we see in people we date, and focus on the important stuff: the personality and compatibility and the laughter that ensued. And I’m not saying there was anything superficially wrong with Matt – he was hot from the start and he still is – but he wasn’t my typical type. I liked Italian-looking guys – dark hair, brown or green eyes, olive skin – and Matt’s got light skin with medium brown hair and hazel eyes. He’s the reason Rose looks like the white version of me. But Matt is the perfect guy for me. We connect on so many levels, we respect each other and we make each other laugh. That’s what’s important.
That’s what it all comes down to: the important stuff. So if you’re reading this and you’re still single, do the good guys a favor and reevaluate your selection criteria. The big things are that you laugh at the same things, you have the same tolerance for tidiness, and you don’t run out of things to say to each other. Because when you find the One, you’ll want to grow old with him, and height shrinks, muscles sag, and country can turn redneck right before your eyes.