By John Gray
I know her only casually, the way it is when you see someone at the gym and end up stretching on the mat next to each other. Brief conversations about the weather or the price of gas—the kind of stuff that can’t get you into any trouble.
Over time I learned she is a college graduate, has a good job and a cat or two roaming around the house she owns in Albany. She’s pretty, successful and as she blows out the candles on her 35th birthday cake people can’t understand how she’s never been close to getting married. It’s not like she can’t get dates, but the right guy has never come along. As she leaves the gym this day I notice her climbing into a brand new BMW convertible and I think to myself, “She’s doomed.”
Can we be honest and just say it? Many guys are intimidated by a successful woman who doesn’t need them. Notice I didn’t say want them I said need them and there’s a huge difference. I meet a lot of people doing what I do, and I can’t tell you the number of women who are smart, successful, dynamic, beautiful, and can’t get a guy who sticks. One of my favorite episodes of “Sex and The City” revealed this problem when Miranda (the red head) found it easier to get a date by lying and telling guys she was a flight attendant, rather than a high-powered lawyer. They were interested in her briefs until they realized they were legal briefs and then out the door they went.
Since it’s April and the buds are starting to bloom, I thought we might chat about opening ourselves up to new possibilities with people we might be overlooking. There are several on my list, but let’s start with the gal in the BMW.
Career woman. Guys, it’s not a sin for a woman to have a brain and ambition and put the whole ‘maternal instinct’ on hold for a while. If a woman is 33 and never been engaged, let alone married, it does not mean something is wrong with her. Perhaps she’s picky or smart or just decided to take the Master’s degree she dropped $100,000 on and put it to use before she focused on diapers and daycare. And if she makes more money than you and that bugs you, I have three words of advice: get over it. Being able to pay your bills on time and not sweat bullets when your car’s “check engine” light comes on is a good thing.
Poor guy. My college roommate was from a middle class family on Long Island and didn’t have two nickels to rub together most of the time. I asked him what the girls were like on the Island or in Manhattan and he’d say, “Oh there’s amazing. Problem is they want a guy with money so they practically want to see your bank statement or do a financial background check before they’ll even meet you for coffee.”
Now, I think Jim was being a bit unfair, I’m sure not every girl in New York City is out for a guy with cash, but some women do equate a guy with money and success as being a great catch. Reality check number one: guys with million dollar companies often spend a lot of their time at the company keeping an eye on their millions. Plus, too much money can screw with a guy’s head and give him a false sense of entitlement. I’ve known guys who were rich that treated their wives like crap because in their mind, “She has that big house and rock on her hand. If I want to play golf all weekend or come home whenever I like she’ll have to deal with it.”
Now, before a bunch of rich guys email me saying I’m painting them with a very broad brush, let me say that I know there are tons of successful guys out there who are fabulous husbands and fathers. I’m just making the point that money doesn’t equal happiness. Plus anyone who has read The Millionaire Next Door will tell you looks can be deceiving. The guy or gal driving around in the 10-year old SUV may be the richest person on your block, just as the person with the big house might be mortgaged up to their eyeballs.
Ladies, if you can snag a rich guy who’s a sweetheart, good for you. I’m just saying give the poor guy a shot as well. He may pick wild flowers alongside the road instead of ordering two dozen roses from the florist, but his heart is in the right place. And he just might be home at night to smell those roses with you.
Personality over looks. I have a friend—let’s call her Cassy—who is a knockout. Problem is, she feels like the only guys worthy of being with her must be of equal stature on the beauty food chain. So what happens? She goes from stud muffin to stud muffin and ends up with guys who spend more time in the mirror and more money on hair products than her. I ran into her on Lark Street recently and this hulk of a man with the vocabulary of a piece of steamed broccoli (it’s all he eats) saunters up to the bar and hugs her. I said, “Hey you look like Gaston.” Blank stare. I try to help him. “You know, the big guy in Beauty and the Beast.” More staring. Then the light goes on and he speaks, “You mean that show on TV with the models and the ugly guys.” He was thinking of “Beauty and the Geeks”. Poor fella.
I thought about explaining, but I figured he’d think Broadway was a place where, you know, ‘broads’ hang out, so I just nodded in agreement. Cassy is not alone. Guys are the worse offenders. At the risk of upsetting the beautiful people who walk among us, could I make one observation? Pretty people, by nature of their beauty, have an easier path through life than the rest of us. Not always, but sometimes this produces a people who don’t have to try as hard to get what they want. This sometimes results in someone who is stunning on the outside, but lacking in some other areas. Could be brains, could be personality.
We have all dated someone who is gorgeous until they open their mouths and become less attractive with each syllable. It works the opposite way too, where we look across the table at our date and think he/she is “just okay” and then, as they make us laugh or think, we find ourselves drawn to them. I’m not going to tell you to go out and date the Elephant Man or his sister, but it wouldn’t hurt to shake up the dating pool and toss in someone who isn’t what you usually go for. You might be surprised how a little intellectual stimulation can create just as many sparks as a backside that spends two hours a day on the elliptical machine at the gym.
Not married with children. I’ve met people who refuse to date anyone who is divorced with kids. I don’t blame them. As someone in that situation, I can tell you we divorced parents are often more tired and busy, and our attention is focused on the little person who wants the crust cut off his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That said, let me say the right person for you just may be that divorced mom or dad you smile at every morning while standing in line at Stewart’s. Maybe if you gave that person a chance you’d be surprised how much they, and yes even those kids, have to offer. Is it easy? No. Most good things are not.
Just two pieces of advice. First, don’t EVER refer to someone’s children as ‘baggage’. Unless, of course, you want to be bound, gagged and forced to ride the luggage conveyor belt at the airport all day. Baggage comes with a lock; children come with magic pixy dust that just might unlock your heart if you give them half a chance.
Second, if you do date someone with children you have to be grown up. That means the usual ‘game playing’ has to stop because now you won’t just be hurting another person, but innocent little kids who are along for the ride. Especially to you guys out there —if this is just another hit and run, do ‘mom’ a favor and leave her alone.
I guess the moral of the story this month is to get out of your dating comfort zone. Just for kicks, surprise yourself and spend time with someone you normally would rule out from the getgo. You might make a new friend, or God forbid, find yourself staring in the mirror saying, “How is this possible? He/She has debt, kids and (swallowing hard) crows feet around their eyes. I can’t be in love.” Remember, you are the one with the walls, lists and conditions. Love doesn’t follow a book full of rules and it just might be out there if, like the buds on those trees, you open yourself up. l
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org