Funny how Dr. Helen's post asking about the weirdest date her readers have ever had, which started out as a light-hearted query, has turned into a war on single women in her comments section. Rather than fan the flames over in her comments, I thought I'd post my thoughts back here in my own back yard.
I dropped my own experience, circa 1991, into her comments here.
I will admit to having written and meant the following:
And then.... there was "The Consultant."And then the castigation began for being impressed by the fact that a potential date might be successful and live in a nice building:
We must have had a decent telephone conversation. I don't remember much, except that he mentioned that he lived in Lakepoint Towers. Yes, indeedy -- the very place Oprah calls home. Lakepoint Towers! Well. That meant he was living in a swanky joint that couldn't possibly come cheap. He must be pretty successful if he could swing that kind of monthly rent or mortgage. Alrighty, then! Down to business. I agreed to meet him at his apartment, and we would go on to dinner from there.
(Yes, yes, yes. Go ahead and shake your head. I deserve it.)
I noticed the thing that stuck out in Omnibus Driver's initial description of the guy: Not anything in the uneventful phone conversation, but the fact that he lived in the same building as Oprah and he must have some bucks.Please also note that this guy completely missed this part of my post:
All he had to be was "normal" with the money. I hope you got at least a little money out of him.
American women. Gotta love 'em. Or not.
Then the interrogation began -- family, job history, relationship history, religious preference, likes, dislikes, pets. He fired off question after question like a drill sergeant.So it's okay for the guy to ask questions about employment history, but it's not okay for the woman to do the same.
This is why I hate dating and have pretty much given up on it completely.
There's always at least one guy in every crowd that thinks that the only thing a woman could possibly be interested in knowing about him is the size of his wallet and the prestige of his chosen career. Oooooh, baby, are they defensive about that. And he's usually the one who sits down next to me.
Call me crazy, but what's wrong with wanting to spend time with someone who is fulfilled by his work and doesn't have to scrounge for every penny?
Most of the time I'm happy with my work, proud of it, and I take care of myself financially pretty darned well.
I've worked in real estate management, as a legal secretary, in public relations, running an in-house secretarial service, as a resume consultant, as an executive assistant in several international consulting firms, and at one time was secretary to an international officer selection committee with final say-so on which candidates were passed forward and which ones weren't.
I've always worked for and with very intelligent, intellectually challenging people. One reason for that is that I'm pretty darned intelligent myself. (Note -- We all make occasional mistakes; hence, the weirdest date on record, where I broke my own rule about meeting at a neutral place. And I learned from it, too.)
Given all that, why wouldn't I want to meet someone who'll see me as an intellectual and professional equal, and someone who'll provide a ton of interesting conversation?
But let me back up a bit. Let me define successful -- which, to me, is someone who has mastery in his or her area of expertise, knows his or her own worth, and doesn't fall apart completely at the first sign of a pothole in the pavement of his or her professional or personal life.
I've dated lawyers, architects, bartenders, musicians, carpenters, consultants (corporate and self-employed), traders, salesmen and my ex-husband was a military policeman.
What made each one of these guys special was that when I met each and every one of them they appeared confident in themselves and respected by others in both their business and personal circles. All but the last have been through some kind of failure or other (marriages, dating relationships, financial problems, deaths in the family, loss of employment, etc.) and found a way to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start again -- sometimes from scratch, sometimes taking the lesson and going back to the point of failure to fix it, if possible.
I admire resilience. When you've been knocked on your keister more than once and had no one to depend on but yourself to fix whatever landed you there (and I certainly have), you really do appreciate that quality in others.
I also admire people who are truthful.
The "Consultant"? He lied through his teeth when we talked, or I never would have agreed to meet him in the first place.
The guy who told me he was a chef? He turned out to work for a hot dog stand. That was a first and last date, too. Not because I'm a snob -- I love a good Chicago-style dog -- but because he was a liar.
I admire people who are generous.
One guy I met (and dated several times after) was delightfully honest and admitted that he'd really like to take me to a nicer restaurant than his budget would normally allow, and would I be turned off if he used an Entertainment Book coupon so he could do so? How flattering was that?
On the other hand, I met another guy who, on our first meeting, yanked out an Entertainment Book and asked if I wanted Greek, Thai or Chinese, because he never wasted money on a first date until he found out whether the chick was worth it or not. That told me volumes about the guy and the "date" ended right then and there.
I believe that if you ask me out, you pay. If I ask you out, I pay. No matter which is the case, you try to pick something the other person would enjoy, and do so freely. With many guys, no matter what happens, I lose here. Either I'm a gold-digging user who's cleaning out his wallet or a ball-busting bluestocking who's robbing him of his masculinity.
In practice, I'm all for first dates that are Dutch treat. That way either party can walk away with no hard feelings, and nobody but themselves to blame for how much the date cost. Easy-peasy.
I'm really, really tired of guys who think that the only thing I (or any other woman) could possibly be interested in was his paycheck.
First of all, that speaks volumes about his own insecurities.
Second of all, for the last two years of my marriage, I carried us both financially, working three jobs at a time to do it. My now ex-husband couldn't or wouldn't (equal parts) help me. I finally got out of that marriage when I realized that if I didn't save myself, then both of us were going to go down financially. Sorry. I didn't and couldn't take that dive.
Is it wrong to want someone who might be able to catch me if I stumble, at least long enough to dust myself off and get myself back on a good path? Not if I'm willing to return the favor, which I've already demonstrated I am.
Another thing I've had to take a hard look at is some of the lousy choices I've made in picking a decent guy to date in the past. I also measure up the good choices I've made. I've certainly tried to take the lessons to both as they come and apply them going forward. BUT that doesn't mean I hold every eligible man I meet responsible for the attitudes and actions of the ones like The Consultant or my ex-husband. I resent when it happens to me, and I refuse to do it to anyone else.
The best kind of relationships, in my book, are not the kind where you live on a rosy pink cloud in perfect bliss, but the kind where sometimes you do the leaning, and sometimes you are leaned on and most of the time you're pulling in harness in the same direction.
So what am I looking for in the end? Someone who is confident in himself and his abilities. Someone who shares many of the same values I do. Someone who gives freely and receives freely in return. Someone who defends me when I need it, cheers me on when I defend myself and with whom I never need to be defensive and vice versa. Someone who listens actively, acts thoughtfully and can agree to disagree from time to time. Someone who doesn't shrink from a fight, but who also fights fair. Someone who knows when to put a fight aside, and who relishes making up when it's done. Someone who knows how to cherish and to be cherished in return.
Not much, really. But it's surprisingly difficult to find.
Update: Yikes. I got referrals today from this guy. Go see where that leads you. I've got a talent for this, I'm telling you.