“Next, please!”

I’ve got to tell you, dating in your late 20’s-early 30’s is quite the experience compared to your late teens and early 20’s. When you’re younger, there really is not so much thought into issues like, “Gee, I wonder what his credit score is.” You do the meet-and-greet, move on to the hang-out-and-make-out, and eventually your mind has become so mushy all it can think is “He’s-the-most-perfect-guy-ever! I’ll-die-if-I-don’t-marry-him” which can sometimes work – sometimes.

Dating in high school, though, was like perusing the local Chuck-a-Rama buffet; a lot of choices but really nothing much there with flavor or substance. My criteria when choosing someone to date in high school consisted of just five things:

  1. Does he have a car?
  2. Is he cute?
  3. Is he cute?
  4. Is he cute?
  5. Do his friends have cars?

Well, okay, maybe there was a little more to it than that…but not really.

Today, my list of “What you need to have or what I need to know before I’ll date you” criteria is just a tad bit different:

  1. Does he have a stable job?
  2. What is his credit score?
  3. Can he give me the references of his last three girlfriends?
  4. Is he disciplined/hardworking/ambitious?
  5. Does he own a home or still live with his parents?
  6. If he’s over 32 and never married, WHY?
  7. Is he active? (this has two connotations – physically/spiritually)
  8. Does he want kids?
  9. Would he be a good dad to my kid?
  10. Does he have a criminal record? (you laugh, but I’m serious!)
  11. Does he love his family?
  12. Is he so caught up in himself he can’t see beyond the end of his nose?
  13. Are those his real teeth?
  14. Does he care about his appearance? (meaning I hope to high heaven he showers and has good hygiene)
  15. Is he looking for somebody to take care of him (mother-figure) or a companion?

Okay, so I don’t really ask a guy all these things – at least, not on a first date. A lot of people laugh when I mention the credit score issue but I’m kind of serious here. Never in a million years would I have thought of this when I was 19 and dating a bunch of guys who wanted to get married yesterday. But the reality of life you bring into dating the second time around is soooo different – those rose-colored glasses come off fast, man. I’m still somewhat of a romantic idealist but I’ve learned what to look for and how to be wary and cautious when needed. It would be wonderful to be able to just place an order – “Um, yes, I’d like the Tall Guy Combo #1 with no cheese, please. Could you make sure he comes with a funny bone, a side of discipline, extra love sauce, and heaps of generosity?”

Despite my “don’t get burned” tendencies when it comes to relationships these days, I am still amazed at what guys will say and do in a dating situation. You know, you would think that as you age you would develop a little wisdom and gain some understanding about how the sexes interact with each other. Ha! I’ve learned that’s expecting waaaaay too much. For instance, a guy I dated a couple of years ago gave me a classic line that I will never forget and that has stayed with me in relationships since then.  Here’s the situation: I was running my first marathon, we were dating pretty seriously, I asked him to come be there at the finish line, he didn’t show up. Me, being the inquisitive and seriously ticked off gal that I was, talked to him the next day about it. This is how the little convo went down:

Moi: So, what in the heck? Why didn’t you show up for my race? You knew how important this was for me. If you couldn’t come, you should have let me know beforehand so I wasn’t expecting you at the finish line.

Mr. Self-Absorbed: I told you I would try if I could get some work done but the job I was on just was too big. I had too much to do so I couldn’t go. Sorry.

Moi: Well, I feel bad because this was something that was new and big for me. People don’t run marathons every day, you know. It was really important to me and you should’ve cared enough to come for an hour.

Mr. SA (laughing): Angie, why would anything that is important to you be just as important to me?

Yes, just read that last line again. That is word for word what he said to me. I remember looking at him, blinking twice, standing up and saying, “Well, I’m done! See you later!” And he didn’t get it. He didn’t get that what he just said was a Relationship Killer. He tried, unsuccessfully, to get back in my good graces months down the road (heck, even at the begining of this year he was calling me) but it was all to no avail. That line, however, has stuck with me as I’ve dated other boys (I’m not feeling like calling them men today). If you honestly care about another person, the things that are important to them become important to you. They may not be your favorite things to do, but you’ll do them anyway because of how your partner will feel. It’s called being unselfish and it’s the hardest trait to find and develop. Yet the most appreciated. (I’m still working on it myself!)

This is what dating is like in your 30’s kids: more money spent on dates, less hair on men. You get to do more exotic things (like my cruise I posted earlier about) because typically you’re financially more stable, but you also have to deal with more entrenched habits (that may or may not be so good). I’m more picky, more discerning, more emotionally unavailable at times because I’m a bit skeptical it can all work out. I still want it to, but I definitely keep my eyes pried wide open.

p.s. Yes, I am still dating The Guy. And things are good. But there’s a lot to work out with a 39 year old male who has never been married! I think someone suggested shock therapy once…I’ve decided I’m ready to give it a go. 🙂

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2 comments

  1. Amanda (Mariotti) Calton · May 13, 2008

    Oh, that made me a little tired as I reflected on past dating experiences and the reality of what my dating life would be like if I were single now, too. Sheesh. I think all of this applies to marriage as well. You have this idea, when you get married at 22, of what you want from your husband and how you want your marriage to work. Then, after 10 years, you realize that the majority of what you cared about is insignificant and the reality has chnaged. Enter the hard work…A friend’s mom once said everyone should get a “starter marriage” to prime you for the one that will work. Ironic, not necessarily statistically viable, but I see the logic. Dating – sooo hard. Marriage – sooo hard. Single mom – sooo hard (I imagine) Why doesn’t anyone warn you???

  2. Allison · May 13, 2008

    Ha ha…”extra love sauce”…

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