Monday, February 12, 2007

Valentine Blogging

Guess what? I opened up the newspaper this morning to discover that I am the ideal mate, according to the majority of men surveyed: "Smarts and fidelity, not good looks or great sex, are the most important traits for a mate, according to a recent poll."

Leger Marketing asked Canadians to weigh the importance of criteria like ambition, money, "knowing how to listen," and "being nice" in determining their selection of a mate. The predictable gender discrepancies occurred: men placed more value on physical attractiveness and sexual prowess, while women were more likely to care about ambition and a love of children. The only potentially surprising finding is that women were significantly more likely than men to rate "respecting the other’s independence" as a key factor in mate selection. Does this mean that women are more independent than men? Or that men are more likely than women to interfere with their mate’s independence?

The truly interesting questions, of course, did not get asked. What are the positive factors in creating attraction, and what factors eliminate a potential spouse from contention? If 26% of women rate "being nice" as an important quality, does that mean that women are actively out there seeking niceness? Or does it mean that 26% of women feel that ugly, abusive, non-nice behaviour is a deal-breaker?

For me, physical attractiveness served more to limit the pool than anything else: there was a certain threshold of attractiveness that I would not go below, but once a prospective mate had cleared that hurdle, I would assess other factors, such as intelligence, sense of humour, and interests. From one perspective, then, physical attractiveness was the most important factor: no amount of funny jokes or sympathetic remarks could overcome the negative impression created by looks. Viewed from another perspective, though, physical attractiveness was inconsequential, far less important than, say, a well-developed appreciation for Star Trek: The Next Generation or the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator.

Before hubby and I started dating, he expressed some friendly interest in what had been on my "list": the list of traits I looked for in a mate (the list that had produced such a disastrous choice the first time around). Of course, I never had such a list: the qualities I looked for had to do with the relationship, not the man. I wanted passion, I wanted stimulating conversation – I wanted someone who would eat popcorn and read Shakespeare with me. I didn’t know then that anyone would do those things, for awhile, if that’s what it took to get into my pants.

When I did make up a list the second time around, my attempts at objectivity were constantly foiled by the fact that hubby and I had already met: he was always lurking in the wings, contaminating my list. I want a mix between Captain Von Trapp and Mr. Darcy, I decided: I want an INTJ, someone who is rational and dedicated and loyal. Then I would share those criteria with now-husband so that he could do his best to emphasize his Von Trapp and Darcy qualities (something he did enthusiastically, even to the point of describing himself, quite falsely, as arrogant). We were such cute young kids.

So what about you? Did you search for a man to conform to a predetermined list of desirable traits? Or did you find the man first and make the list afterwards?


Kelly said...

1) Found the man.

2) Determined he was extraordinarily good-looking.

3) Found out his exquisite taste in music.

4) Visited his apartment and saw his wall of books.

5) Discovered we both enjoyed 'This Is Spinal Tap' way too much.

6) #5 got him off the hook for not liking 'The English Patient.'

7) His first present to me, after a month of dating, was a copy of Charles Baxter's story 'Saul and Patsy Are Pregnant.' This made a huge impression, and felt very intimate, the sharing of literature.

8) Found out he was keenly aware of social issues and followed politics.

9) Found out (a bit too soon, ahem) that he was a delight in the sack.

10) After he finished his Master's and moved back home, he still drove 5 hours to visit me.

11) And so I decided to never let him go.

I'm not sure if that exactly answers your questions. I didn't really have a predetermined list, like he must be tall, or must be a Democrat. I just found that, one by one, he answered all the questions that came up, and after years of heartbreak, he surprised me by making me realize that I was worthy of great love, and a great man. And that he is.

Blog Antagonist said...

Captain Von Trapp and Darcy...oh yeeeeesssssss. Add James Malcome MacKenzie Fraser to that mix, and you have the ideal man.

I dated enough pretty boys to know that beauty is indeed, only skin deep. I got tired of playing second fiddle to their own self-importance. But Physical attractiveness became well and truly irrelevant for me when my gloriously handsome but emotionally stunted fiancee cheated on me with my best friend.

I made a concerted effort not to fall for a pretty face again.

I was not physically attracted to my husband at first, but not repelled either. I liked him a great deal. When I got to know him, I realized that the sum of his qualities gave him a very subtle but potent sexuality that I had missed initially.

Deal breakers for me are a lack of ambition and a lack of intimacy stemming from an inability to converse on a level that is both emotionally and intellectually satisfying.

What an interesting topic! I'll come back to see what others have said.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I definitely had the list first, though it was a short one. When I met my husband, I was hotter for him than any other man I had ever met, but if he hadn't met my criteria, I would have just avoided him.

binkytown said...

I thought my now-husband was hot when I met him but called his work phone after he gave me his card so I could listen to his voicemail and see if he sounded nice. He did. If he would have sounded like a jerk I wouldn't have gone out on a real date with him. I'm not exactly sure what a jerk sounds like but I think I would have known it when I heard it.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I had a list and my list was all wrong. My husband has almost none of the qualities I thought I wanted, but it turns out that what he has is exactly right. For ten years now I've been wondering what that means about my self-knowledge!

I thought I wanted Mr. Darcy, too. But actually I've got a guy more like Bode Miller.

metro mama said...

I consciously made up my mind to find a nice guy and voila - a week later, I moved into the apartment next door to one. Of course, he had to be hot too. And smart.

Mimi said...

Pynchon and I joke about how we 'lowered' our standards to find each other -- we both had so little luck with our 'ideal' types that we were each at the stage of trying to be open to other possibilities.

I was willing to forego Academic Genius and Tall and Skinny, and he told people he 'just wanted to date a non-hoochie.' We were thus very well matched.

What we laugh about now are what we call the innumerable 'red flags!' that should have turned me off him: on EI, living in his parents' basement, driving a beater of a car, dressing like a thug, smoking much too much pot, and just quit smoking cigarettes the day before our first date. RED FLAG! RED FLAG!

But, since we were just taking it one date at a time, gradually, it dawned on me that the red flags were just surface details. It's because we were open to changing our dating patterns that we were able to find each other. It was serendipity.

And also -- don't you know I was waving this bit of the newspaper around our very own kitchen this morning too ...

Beck said...

Well, first I met the man, then I decided that he didn't meet my list. Then I realized I was as an idiot. It was all very angsty. I posted about it today, actually.

Mad Hatter said...

It's funny, I remember saying to my husband several years into our relationship, "but when I met you you used to come out and socialize with me and dance and kick back. Now you just work and work. What happened?" He replied "I no longer need to do any of that. I've got you, now." Said the spider to the fly.

As for what makes it work. We respect each other and we get each other deeply, intellectually, and spiritually. And then there's history: he held me when my mother died and when our daughter was born. I held him when his father and then his mother died. That deepens a bond in a way that I still can't explain.

Shucks, Bubs, I'm not usually this sentimental. Stop doing this to me.

Oh, The Joys said...

You know what is odd? I am an ENTJ, but just BARELY the E. I'm right on the line and almost INTJ. Strange.

Lisa b said...

I cannot remember exactly what was on my list but I do recall hoping that I would meet someone nice before I had to strike all the items on the list.
Then I met my husband who didn't seem to fit the list at all but was absolutely perfect for me.
We seem to share a lot of the same family and cultural values and are total cheapasses.

NotSoSage said...

So often I have met and become friends with a man I would never describe as good-looking, but once I get to know him he becomes incredibly attractive to me.

Friends tell me that I have a very high threshold for what I consider "good-looking", but attraction is a very different story. I am most attracted, at least in the short term, to very unconvential-looking people. Frankly, I'm often very distrustful of truly handsome men.

Six months before I met Joe I had worked as a counsellor at a camp and one of the activities was for the campers to draw their counsellor's perfect mate. I thought they'd hit the nail on the head. He was a tree-hugging, ring-wearing guy with scruffy hair and big lips. A month later I met that man (he even had a space between his two front teeth...rowrr), started dating him and he quickly and efficiently swept the floor with me...

I wasn't attracted to Joe at first - he was/is actually quite conventionally handsome, but a little too...uh...bland, for my taste - but I grew to find him incredibly attractive. I didn't have a true list because I'd been led to believe that that was expecting too much. But he fit me, despite our vastly different appearances.

It didn't hurt that he was the first man I'd dated who wasn't a complete, self-absorbed, selfish a@$, either.

Christina said...

My husband fit next to nothing on my list. I wanted a tall, fair-haired, fair-skinned man who was refined, intelligent, and had a quiet passion about him.

From that list, I got intelligent. But I also got someone who was openly passionate, and had a knowledge base that far exceeded academia. Ah well, who was I to know what I was really looking for?

Jenifer G. said...

Technically hubby was my rebound after a very long, dysfunctional relationship that lasted from high school to second year university. By the time it ended it had been over for years really, but I just could not see the way out. I felt stupid for realizing all the time I was wasting and still could not make the move to end things. That and fear of this person if truth be told.

We met at university and he used to challenge one of our prof's regularly and I used to think how rude! The thing was he always had a point and more often than not was right.

People around us saw what I didn't or couldn't figure out (while I was still in my previous relationship) that there was something brewing between us. Long story short I got the courage to end said relationship (I will spare you the drama but let's say he tried to stop me and it got ugly.)

Once it was over I was a breathing easy again for the first time in years and there was hubby just waiting for me. He helped me put myself back together and to this day I have never met anyone who I have connected with so deeply.

No one said it would last but, this year is our 10th anniversary and 14 years together. It was our time and fate made sure we found each other. It can't be anything else as I was following all the wrong lists and was barreling down a path to a very unhappy life.

I could find a hundred men to fit any list I might dream up. Clearly, that is not the ticket to happy ever after. Hard work, shared passions, common goals, similar values, a sense of humour, and a sprinkling of good old fashion lust - it is these things that trump any list. Timing is everything and if I would have met future hubby at any other point, before our time had come, this would have been a missed chance. Back to the survey, who doesn't want someone nice, or honest, or independent? We all do. We just want those qualities in the person who is right for us, that is the part no survey can ever capture.

So. um. maybe I should post about this too, oh wait I just did....

Sorry about the loooong comment.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Alpha DogMa said...

I didn't have a "predetermined list of desirable traits," but rather a list of deal breaking traits.
They included:
- lives with parents (with apologies to Mimi on this one)
- is bartender
- is bartender/student
- is bartender/actor
- is fan of Star Trek (can only have one fan of Trek per relationship at the start of relationship, but can convert manchild to trekkie life during relationship)
- is virgin
- reads the poetry of Leonard Cohen
- aspires to be Leonard Cohen
- wears tighty whities
- has mother iron and fold his tighty whities
- dresses all in black, save for aforementioned tight whities

...yeah, I had a somewhat limited but sorted relationship past.

bubandpie said...

AD - Hehe. Hubby had around 3.5 of those "deal-breakers" (your list, fortunately - not mine!).

Anonymous said...

Normally I let these misrepresentations slide, but 3.5? I didn't know I was a bartender.

Sara said...

I met my man in high school. We danced around the whole dating thing for quite a while before realizing that we actually WERE in a relationship.

I loved him the first time I saw him and that was it. I knew it was him for always. Took him a while longer.

Going on 11 years of marriage now, about 14 years together.

T with Honey said...

I made a list in high school and dated guys that matched list. After that disaster I went to college leaving ex-boyfriends behind and made my list longer. At college I found a guy that matched the new and improved, longer list. Dated guy that matched list while making friends. One day I woke up and realized: best friend that doesn't match my list AT ALL is the one. Dumped other guy, married best friend.

T. said...

I knew my hubs my entire life. We'd date off and on through out our years. But I kept coming back to him. Because he was the kindest, most generous person I knew.

And it helped that he was a handsome devil with a wicked gleam in his eyes who could make my toes curl.

So, I suppose I made my list after meeting him. He can still make my toes curl, even when he annoys me.

Angela said...

Never had a list, met my husband on a blind date and just kept dating him because he was so amazing. My previous boyfriend was a typical bad boy, knew after that ended, I needed someone who would treat me with respect, kindness and love, and oh yeah, would also make me tingle and make my toes curl-after 14 years of marriage, I know that I'm a very, very lucky woman.

Jennifer said...

I had a list, but my husband didn't really fit it. He wasn't what I thought I wanted -- but he's definitely what I needed. Twelve years and three kids later, I'm even more certain.

Joker The Lurcher said...

after a couple of long term relationships that didn't work out, one of which was a nightmare, i formulated a job description and asked my little sister to introduce me to some nice young men. the job description was:

1. he must not be called paul
2. he must like dogs.
3. he must not be an artist
4. he must be able to cook

my now husband filled all these but scared me a bit when he talked about finishing some drawings (he was finishing an architecture degree). we've been together a long time and are pretty happy!

c4cara said...

Jeez, what a topic!
I never had a list, before or after. I had every faith I would meet the 'right man', but as I am a bit mad and feisty, quickly found there were only a handful of men who could deal with me kindly.
So I did this crazy thing of trying to make myself fit the man/relationship, because if he loved me/liked me, then he might be Mr Right, right?
Nope. And I only knew this after I met my Mr Right. I had a sneaky romantic picture of my ideal man - He was Mr Darcy but cool and artistic, into music, travel and adventure. A free spirit and an explorer. Someone a bit like me, but not.
My Husband is conservative, not into art in any form, not particularly 'cool', more popular (as an unpopular kid, I am totally anti popular people *grin*)...
But, my heart knew him from the moment I lay eyes on him, and his knew mine. And after nearly 10 years he is as devoted as ever. He loves me. He doesn't understand me, or agree with me on many things, but he does accept me, as I am. He never attempts to alter or improve me. He has become my home, and I am learning to accept myself through his acceptance of me. It actually makes my life a bit complicated at times, because we are such different people, but I wouldn't be without him for the world. (He is a bit handsome - I didn't notice this until the 'love fog' passed. I'm a bit suspicious of 'good looking' men as well...)

marian said...

I had a list, but not quite enough confidence or maturity at a young 22 to patiently wait and put it to it's full use.

There's an old "Cathy" cartoon strip in which Cathy's friend asks her what attracts her to a guy. She says, "Looks." "You mean you're attracted just because a guy looks good?" her friends asks. "No. I mean if a guy looks at me, I'm attracted!" I probably never sunk quite that low, but at times there may have been a grain of truth to it!
At the time I met my husband, my list, if I had officially kept one, might have started with, "Definitely not too good-looking!" It was a violent pendulum swing for me, in reaction to the previous year and the vapid male souls I'd been drawn to based on looks. It was a time of telling myself to ignore my instincts because, apparently, they weren't so good.
From there my list was actually quite sound (and I'd stand by it today), just incomplete: intelligent, kind, strong, humble, loves God, and tall. Oh, and definitely NOT like my father emotionally. Judging on the surface, I thought I'd scored on all counts. Fourteen years below surface, I know that my familiarity-seeking subconcious drew me to someone who turned out to be just like my father!

marian said...

Sometimes I wonder if it drives you nuts, being a teacher of English literature and all, when people comment with typos and bad grammar. I do so regularly I'm sure, as commenting is a luxury for which there's just never much time. I just noticed, upon glancing at the comment I just typed, an "it's" where an "its" should sit, and would likely find with further inspection other mistakes in the comment I whipped out... Oh, I'm feeling quite self-conscious in your comments section. And just thought I'd comment.

ewe are here said...

God, you get sick, you fall off the internet for a few days, and bam! All these great posts you've missed and have to catch up on! Like this one!

So I'll ramble a teensy bit here ... and maybe blog more in depth on this later. ;-)

I don't think I ever had a completely predetermined 'list' that was set in stone, although there were definitely a few deal breakers in the back of my mind. Like a minimum height requirement (shallow, I know); and a certain level of attractiveness (because, well, you know!); maturity, he had to be an actual grown up, I didn't want someone who still wanted to be the cool 20 year old for life; no smoking and no heavy drinking; gainful employment; intelligence, kindness, and the ability to talk and to share and to listen. And, most importantly, he had to know who he was and just go with it and be that person. I finally realized that it was incredibly important that the man I chose had to be comfortable with himself and not be one of those people who are always trying to 'be' someone else just to fit in.

Ok, maybe I did have more of a list than I thought....

Anyways, funnily enough, my now-husband actually fell afoul of a couple of these when we met: he smoked (quickly quit) and he had quit his great job to change the direction of his life and was working on his MBA when I met him. But I could respect that as I had just done the same thing essentially. And, I knew fairly quickly that he was the one, and v.v., and we were engaged not quite six months after we first met; pregnant a week or two after that; and happily married before we'd known each other a year. And we laugh about this, because I think we both had given up hope of finding each other, 'the one' we'd always wished for. Because we knew we were it for each other.

Sometimes I can't get over how lucky I was the day I met my husband. He really is a wonderful man. And a fantastic father.

bubandpie said...

Marian - That Cathy cartoon! It's so familiar; I think maybe I clipped it out and saved it at one point in my life.

As for typos and grammar errors, they don't bother me at all in comments and only a little bit in posts. Where they really get me is in taglines: we all know that we're typing as fast as we can when we comment, and even with posts we don't always have time to proofread, but the tagline is a permanent part of the blog, so it poses a dilemma for me - should I notify the blog owner that there's a misplaced comma or a misspelled word?

Arguably I should (I remember Mommy Off the Record was mortified when her site received a nasty review that commented on a misspelled word in her tagline). But there's just no way to do it tactfully.