said my health teacher on our last day of class as she handed us each an index card. I was silently celebrating the end of the most awkward class of my high-school career: sex ed. Our teacher was a spunky, tell-it-like-it-is kind of lady. And we were a bunch of Catholic-school girls in blazers and plaid skirts (some shorter than others, a measurement which was directly correlated with social status). The assignment was to list traits we wanted in a future husband. “You need to start thinking about what’s important to you. You need to set standards,” she lectured. The little cogs in my under-developed brain began turning. And my 15-year-old self concocted the following list, word-for-word (prefaced by the statement “I want to be an independent woman! But if that doesn’t work out, my man has to be…):
- black hair
- not a slob
- likes animals
- no drugs
- no more than 7 years older than me
Okay, okay. So some of these items are negotiable–like, I’m not sure why I thought paleness was an important trait; maybe because the Twilight series had me in a vampire craze? However, I like my list and I’m sticking to it! (Er, for the most part.)
Since I wrote that list, I’ve been on a few dates here and there and I’ve had one long-term relationship. But none of those guys quite fit this description. At the age of 22, I’m starting to see many of my peers get married, and–I’m not going to lie–it’s putting me in a mild panic. While I’m sitting around waiting for Prince Charming/Edward Cullen to come along, all the guys my age are getting snatched up. My pool from which to choose is dwindling.
I know, I know, I’m being a little melodramatic. But dating can be a daunting thing for today’s young adult. Many young people are already divorced. Many already have children. Even in their 20s, singles come with baggage that complicates their relationships. Furthermore, in our increasingly promiscuous society, people have varying ideas of what a relationship entails. Finding a gentleman who isn’t already taken or emotionally unavailable is not easy. And where to find them? I don’t go to bars to meet guys, because I don’t want the kind of guy who hangs out at bars. Nice guys have the same problem with meeting people. I can only imagine they struggle to find a girl who isn’t catty, spoiled, gold-digging, or “plastic.”
It’s taken a while, but I think the lesson my health teacher taught us that day has finally sunk in. We shouldn’t settle for someone who doesn’t meet our standards, even if it seems like that ideal person will never come along. As you mature, dating becomes more than just a fun game; it’s the journey to finding your life companion. Everyone you date will have flaws. You have to consciously think about which flaws you’re willing to live with (it’s okay if Prince Charming/Edward Cullen doesn’t have black hair, but doing drugs is a deal-breaker). I believe the trick is finding someone whose flaws only make you love them more.