The only creatures that build their lives around expectations resulting in missed potential are humans; we can be such a high and might species. One viewing of any nature program and it’s apparent that a lion would never choose to skip a meal simply because the potential prey isn’t the meal that they were “waiting on”. The expectation is purely to find sustenance, keeping them focused on the value in a meal. Perhaps this lack of focus is why we so often miss our chance to be fat and happy. If we were the kings and queens of the jungle we would be lean, lethargic, angry beasts rejecting meal after meal, because we weren’t coming across perfection: not enough meat on the bones, etc.

Nothing brings this to mind more than talking to (or being) a single woman in their 30’s. Whether identifying as feminist or traditionalist, many of us have created a perspective of the “perfect” man. Our Denzel circa 1990 dreams, transitioned into a one name phenomenon like Tyson, morphed into Shemar Moore during his Y&R days, then shifted to dark chocolaty concoctions a la Lance Gross. Perhaps it was the ER version of George Clooney, a hint of Russell Crowe, a blend of True Blood’s Skarsgard, and a dash of Bradley Cooper. In any case, we, “women” have allowed typecasting to create moments of missed opportunity.

Recent experiences have caused me to review the dating checklist that so many people—self included– live by and call into question some of the areas that we could afford a little room for compromise:

 

Perfection Perception: Perfect is rare and arguably non-existent, so why not focus on “perfect for me”? A little reality check would make us less likely to miss opportunities for partnerships and able to spot potential where we may have previously overlooked it.

Pleasure Principle: While sexual and physical chemistry are important neither is guaranteed to be as immediate as we expect it to be and can be misleading. We may want to be swept off our feet and caught up in the flood of emotional fireworks, but there’s no doubt our minds can be clearer, and our bodies satisfied with a slow burn. A man that doesn’t stoke your physical fires at first sight may be the one that stimulates you intellectually, ultimately leading to a deeper level of pleasure in all areas. On another note, the man that strikes you as textbook “foine” may wear out his welcome very quickly when you realize that his looks are his total package.

Surface Level Silliness: Are you still judging a man’s date worthiness by his shoe selection. A mature woman will recognize whether the shoe game is a lack of fashion sense (changeable), budgetary prioritization (manageable) or low standards (better to keep it moving). Shoes are just one example of the small things that we use as a determining factor. Wouldn’t a little flexibility be worth it if you are interested in finding companionship?

Race: There’s no doubt that historical experiences have created boundaries and preferences that I respect, however, certain groups have begun to branch out significantly, creating a greater pool of opportunity while others have continued to “color within the lines,” reducing the number of eligible candidates significantly. If you want to apply your expectations to a group of people that are brown, black, white, and tan you may not have such a hard time identifying your man. Apply your strict rules and regulations to a group that is solely white, black, brown or tan, and we’re in “needle in a haystack” territory.

Cougar/Puma Bait: Men dating women that are younger are referenced as May-December, romanticized and cheered on, in many cases. Women who are found attractive among younger men, let alone that choose to date them are immediately referenced as cougars (post 40’s) and pumas (post 30’s). While movies are written with handsome older leading men chasing obviously younger woman without it being the primary subject, most movies in the reverse would include a snarky mother in law, condescending jokes about age and an overtly, sexually aggressive “mature” woman. Rather than fall into the trap of fear of judgment or preconceptions regarding the behaviors of younger men, why not test the waters and determine what works for you? If age is an issue, don’t let it be because of the perception of others?

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Education/Professional Status: Educated women are traditionally encouraged to seek men that are “on their level.” This would be perfectly fine except that women are 57% of the college population in nationally with this number increasing dramatically if you factor in the ratio of women of color to men of color. These numbers go on to reflect the dating deficiencies for professional women looking to date professional peers. While white-color men tend to be comfortable dating women with lesser traditional education or smaller job titles, women in the same position often face judgment from their peers and friends wanting “the best for you.” Don’t be afraid to check out the man that gets his hands dirty for a living. Commitment, reliability, loyalty and honesty aren’t just packaged in a suit and tie.

Ready Made Family: Guilty! I’ve often be told that seeking a man close to my own age without children will be next to impossible and cut down my dating options. I certainly couldn’t tell you that it’s been a perfect science, but it hasn’t been unsuccessful. I find this to be an acceptable stance depending on the reason. Many of us fall into the “I don’t want to deal with baby mama drama” rather than the “I don’t want or like children” category. If this is the case, I would caution you not to make it a hard and fast rule. Like most things, there are exceptions and if Mr. Perfect For Me comes along and happens to be a father, focus on whether or not he is a good dad, involved in his child’s life and demonstrating responsibility fiscally and emotionally—in many cases this will tell you what kind of partner he would be.

I didn’t write this article to encourage you to “settle” for less rather encourage you to be open, identify where you may have room for growth in your thinking, and adjust the rules of the game so that you create more time to play!

 

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