I was browsing through Marie Claire one day, mainly looking at the pictures because I like to collage, when I can across the title of an article: Girls, Stop Being So Picky. Immediately I was curious because this article was in the Love/Sex section. The title of the interviewee’s book didn’t taste very appetizing as my tongue fed the words and my brain tried to digest them. Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough (by Lori Gottlieb).
Settling? Good enough? Not a word or phrase I was content with allowing to come into my vocabulary or even way of life. You see, all my life I was taught to have standards and to expect and live excellence in every area of life. In school it was in relation to my grades and not having sex. Once I graduated, and went on to an internship, the areas of focus in which to extend to work, platonic and romantic relationships alike, faith, higher education, etc.
I consider my experience in that internship one that I will never regret and am completely grateful for the caliber of women that surrounded me. These women came from all different backgrounds and life experiences, all adequately equipped to pour into my life nuggets of wisdom to help shape me into the women I was developing into. One of the things I remember most was the emphasis placed on making a wish-list of sorts for future dating experiences. Something to look back upon and compare if the particular guy met the standards I valued as important. Genius, I thought…. I was 19. As I wrote out my list, I failed to remember the other important aspects of this checklist. There are three columns/types of standards: some will be fixed and unchanging (mostly character traits), others malleable and could be lived without (physical appearance, job, etc) and finally areas that a person can grow into (because we are ever growing and learning). I made my list and went on my way. I can only think of maybe 2 times when I referred back to it. Instead I continued to live life and formulate my “type.”
Every girl (and guy) has a type, whether she wants to admit it or not. Some girls’ types are blatantly obvious to them and the people around them, others take some pointing out by outside sources. Either way we have a type that we consider to be worthy of our time and effort. How tall is he? What color hair/eyes? What’s his profession? Is he in school? His physique etc? Everyone else, no matter their character, isn’t given the time or day. Why? Because somehow our type has now replaced our standards.
I read the article anyway because, from simply reading the title of the author’s book, I was formulating my rant about how wrong she was. The more I read the more I was surprise. I began to understand the author’s point of view and found myself agreeing with Mary’s message, “We feel entitled to the cultural ideal. Mr. Right should look a certain way, have a certain kind of job, have a sense of humor, be romantic in these ways and show it with certain gestures. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Why do we always focus on the latter?”
The past year I mad a conscious decision to broaden my horizons and let go of my “type.” More often than not it had left me frustrated and wanting more than what I was being offered. The process wasn’t an easy one considering I live in an area that is in a constant state of the Spring Break mentality, choking my personal fashion prejudices with their Ed Hardy and Lily Pulitzer culture. But I tried my best to give each suitor a fair chance and learn who they really are and what they are really all about.
One day I hesitantly told one of my closest friends about a guy I started hanging out with. He was definitely outside my type but I really enjoyed his company, personality etc. Her response was shock at first but her following response was one that spoke to the very core of me:
“First of all, who am I or anyone else for that matter to tell you what we think about a boy you happen to like. Unless he’s a convicted serial killer, rapist, or sexual predator, no one’s opinion should matter but yours, you know? We don’t get to choose who we like, it just happens. We spend so much time over analyzing each tiny detail. And most of the time we end up missing out on something that could be great because we have to pick apart and examine each tiny irrelevant aspect of the situation. Oh he’s not tall enough, oh he’s not my usual type, oh he has brown eyes instead of blue, oh what will my friends think, blah blah blah. But when it all comes down to it, those silly little things don’t matter in the end. What really matters is how you feel when you are with that person. Does he makes you happy? Does he make you laugh? Do you find yourself smiling uncontrollably? Do you feel like you could talk to him for hours on end about everything and absolutely nothing at the same time? Do you find yourself completely comfortable, yet still nervous and anxious when ever you’re around him, or whenever you talk to him? THOSE are the things that matter. FEELINGS matter. There’s no need to try and justify why you’re into him to anyone, especially yourself. We tend to let our heads get in the way of everything. So just let go of all the bullshit and see where it goes!”
It didn’t end up going anywhere but the fact of the matter is I tried. I stepped out of myself and the formula I had subconsciously tried to fit every guy in and I learned from it. I had a blast. I loved that I could be completely myself, oddities and dorkiness included. I learned that it really doesn’t matter what they look like or what style a guy has, though being attracted to someone is very important. That attraction comes in other forms besides JUST the physical. Often it’s those other forms that weigh the most: the emotional, the spiritual, and the unexplainable. The condition of one’s heart and their motivation in life was what I hold closest to my own heart. What does he live for? Breathe for? His passions and desires? Are they bigger than himself or is he looking through a microscope, failing to see the bigger picture? Is he concerned with living a life motivated by love? The answers to those questions formulate the biggest turn-ons and turn-offs to me.
My eye will still always be immediately “caught” when my type walks by, there’s no question about that. But that physical attraction can only last on its own for so long. It’s the man of substance that will catch my attention for an extended period of time. (And God knows that’s a tough challenge in itself). It’s time for girls to stop being so damn picky about the things that don’t really matter. Save the energy for scrutinizing the areas that are really worth investigating: being trustworthy, respectable, passionate, loving, etc. And ENJOY the process of getting to know someone on a deeper level, for who they really are. Take a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised.