Mr. Right. Or is it Mr. Right Now? There are self help books, movies and even bobble head dolls devoted to distinguishing the difference between the two. As little girls we dream of the white knight that will come in and sweep us off our feet, taking us away to his castle that is surely filled with cotton candy, unicorns and butterflies. As women, we dream about a man who can do his own laundry. (“You mean you FOLD it too?! Marry me!”) Time has a way of lowering your expectations, doesn’t it? Well not for this woman. I have been asked on occasion just what exactly I’m looking for in a man. And to be honest, I had no idea. I want a man who simply adds to my happiness but apparently that description is a little too vague. As I have been known to change my mind on occasion, when a friend suggested making an actual list of qualities I wanted in a partner, it didn’t sound like such a bad idea…
I was supposed to have a date last weekend. “Supposed to” being the operative phrase. He and I had talked on Monday and decided to grab dinner Saturday night but didn’t set a time or place. With no communication that week I was obviously beginning to have my doubts. But I texted him on Friday (mainly just to make sure I could still use this date as a valid excuse for a shopping trip) and I never heard back from him. By Saturday at noon, I made other plans. Then he called. At 6:00 pm. On the night of our date. Really, Dude? I missed his call but called back a few minutes later only to get his voicemail. Around midnight my phone rang. I answered foolishly expecting to hear some sort of excuse as to why our date didn’t materialize; his car wouldn’t start, his dog died, he lost his phone and couldn’t get in touch with me (that’s my personal favorite)…but no. Instead I was met with a string of expletives as he yelled at me for standing him up. Um. What? As his cool, calm and obviously collected rant was met with the “click” of the phone, I knew that this man wasn’t Mr. Right, Mr. Right Now or even Mr. Last Man on Earth. I want a man who is kind and genuine and while this…gentleman…didn’t possess those qualities, he helped me realize just how important they are to me.
My mother used to tell me to never date a man that you wouldn’t marry. At 18, I thought that line of thought was incredibly outdated. Now, at 25, I’m more inclined to agree with her. When a girlfriend of mine was newly divorced she had an incredibly strict list that she used to screen potential boyfriends. From the college you attended to the amount in your bank account; Brad Pitt couldn’t have made it on that list. But even that list couldn’t protect her from dating a loser or two. Because I think what she and other women like myself are starting to learn is that no matter how good someone looks on paper, it’s the character of the man that makes all the difference in the world.
Out of all the years I’ve been a single Mommy, only one man has met my child. Up until that point, I had casually dated men who didn’t pose a threat, if you will. Not physically, but men that I didn’t have to worry about getting close to and letting into our lives. That changed when I met this one particular man. It wasn’t his looks, his career or his 401 K or lack thereof; none of that mattered. It was the way he interacted with his children. Just watching them together you knew that he was absolutely in love; in love with them and in love with being a Dad. I knew I could introduce him to Prinny and he would instantly treat her like he did his own children. And I was right. The few times they were together, he was amazing with her. It had been so very long since I had seen a man interact like that with my daughter; a man who could fall in love with both of us and one that we could fall in love with as well. Even thinking about it now, a lump catches in my throat and I know that above all else, that is the most important thing to me. Not just a man who loves me, but a man who loves my daughter and treats her as his own.
Wouldn’t it be easier if we all, men and women alike, wore signs around our necks that said “Mr. Right?” or “Ms. Right Now?” One of my closest girlfriends has a theory about how to separate the good ones from the bad ones. We refer to as The Straw Principle. According to her logic, if a man drinks straight from a cup, he is a “real” man and therefore passes her test. However, if the poor guy uses a straw, unbeknownst to him, he has just failed and will never see her again. Now while, granted, her little test is a bit extreme, I definitely get where she’s coming from. Sometimes you just need you’re own little checklist to make dating easier. By writing everything down and being able to see in my own handwriting the qualities I want in a man, I feel as if I’m taking charge of my dating life. I now have tangible hope that I’m one step closer to my very own Mr. Right. And while he may not be Mr. Perfect, I have faith that he’ll be the “right” one for me.