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There he was walking down Atlantic Avenue.
He looked to be a 40-year-old toddler. His face was covered in zinc oxide, he had big plastic sunglasses on, he wore a Flap Happy hat tied under his chin, and he was wearing “Jesus” sandals.
(You have to know his wife was responsible for this getup.)
He didn’t have a care in the world. I had to wonder what he looked like on their first date. Did he costume up into some cool clothes and project some alternate personality in hopes of finding the it girl? Or perhaps he dressed the way he was accustomed to, sparking interest from like-minded souls and ultimately attracted exactly who he belonged with in life? What a novel approach.
How many of us attracted our partner by being exactly who we are?
I dressed authentically, but I definitely applied coverup to a few blemishes that have since cleared up in time. Stop judging. You know you did that too.
What would happen if we actually acted the way we are? Wouldn’t it be a fail-safe way to find The One?
Our culture has us doing this dance where we each jump through hoops to become whoever we think the other person wants. Once the courtship phase dies down, we are left with two people who are likely exhausted and have little in common—except for their search for everlasting love.
My first date with my husband took place at a hospital cafeteria in Miami. We grabbed a slice of pizza because he only had a few minutes for lunch. He was in his third year of medical school and doing his OB/GYN rotation. I was smitten, starstruck, and weak in the knees. Can you say c-h-e-m-i-s-t-r-y? What I was so intensely attracted to, however, was his personality. He was larger than life, and still is.
What would have happened if on our second date, Alan arrived at the beach wearing zinc oxide and a Flap Happy hat tied under his chin, and sandals with straps around the back? I’m not going to lie, it might have been the shortest date in history.
Am I the world’s most shallow human being? Would that have made him any less wonderful? I admire/envy people who are completely comfortable in their own skin. It would make life far less complicated.
I also fully appreciate the need for chemistry between two people. It is even the key ingredient in my nearest and dearest friendships. I have girl crushes on all my besties. What that means is, there is an obvious connection of energy between us, and people can feel it.
The moment Alan and I met, I felt I’d been struck by a bolt of lightning. (Why is that considered a good thing?) The intensity was unsustainable because it absorbed every ounce of clear thinking I had. My brain had turned to mush and I was in a love fog.
Our relationship progressed at the speed of a runaway train. He was a doctor in training and I was selling surgical implants in the operating room. Between the two of us, we had about six spare hours a week to take our time getting to know each other. We just followed the organic pace of things. It was the Indy 500 of courtships and before you could blink an eye, we were living together. Did I even know his favorite color?
He was a smooth operator in the beginning. He helped do the laundry, and he was an integral part of grocery shopping and cooking meals…when he was not falling asleep at the dinner table. He was close to his family and he made me belly laugh. This guy was checking all the boxes. When I ask him about that, he always says the same thing, “Courtship phase.”
Whatever happened to that guy? Well, he now works 70 hours a week and comes home in a fog in an altogether different kind.
So what’s a girl to do? How do we know what we’re really getting? Should we be looking for the guy wearing zinc on his face in the floppy hat, knowing we’re all going to end up with that and appreciating him for being who he is? Should we show up with our hair in a pony and sweats on, knowing full well that’s what he’s going to get? When does the decorum end, and the authenticity begin?
Did I mention the guy in the white cream and floppy hat was holding his son’s hand crossing the street. He was engaged in deep conversation and looked to be the picture of a perfect father. He looked like the guy who would get up in the middle of the night with the screaming baby so you could sleep, if there was such a look.
Isn’t that what we all want? Are “cool” and “father of the year” mutually exclusive? I’m cool and a fabulous mother. It’s possible, you know.
It just begs the question, what really matters? If I had to do it all over again, would I do it the same way? Would you? Should I have married the guy in eighth grade who played the trombone? I married the guy who looked like a rock star and was going to be a doctor. I hit the jackpot.
What is the protocol for finding someone who is true to their dating persona? What you see isn’t usually what you get.
Weren’t you editing your personality just a tad? Did you post the most recent picture on your profile or the best one from eight years ago? When you were sharing your life experiences with each other, didn’t you round down the number of previous partners you had and delete a few stories your closest friends swore they’d take to their grave?
Do we need to return to the days of matchmaking? Do we need to run online dating profiles through a polygraph to authenticate the information being submitted?
Look at the divorce rate in our country. Perhaps we need to shift our focus on being who we really are. That is the one way I know of attracting someone who gets what they’re signing on for.
If they are attracted to who you really are, there is no effort in maintaining a façade. It’s a fact that over time, people in relationships stop trying to please as they grow more comfortable with each other.
If they didn’t have to be anyone other than who they are, this would be what we are now missing. My mom never told me what to look for in a partner. I guess after picking my dad, she figured she didn’t really have much wisdom to offer.
What she did tell me was that when looking for a husband, I should look for someone who would make an excellent business partner and a considerate roommate.
I’d add friend to that ingredient list, and I think you have a recipe for happily ever after—whatever that is for you.