Mr. Right, Mr. Perfect, Mr. Good Enough

Recently, author Lori Gottlieb sparked controversy, thanks to her advice to women about choosing “Mr. Good Enough” instead of waiting for “Mr. Right”. After the onslaught of women accusing her of advocating “settling”, she answered that what she really meant was that too many women have stupid requirement and expectations, making it completely impossible to find a life partner. (See original article here)

She was right, really. Some women are too picky. How many of us know people (including ourselves) who have ditched a guy after the first date because of some odd quirk? At the same time, we complain when we’re on the receiving end of such quick judgment. The truth is, you need to give someone a chance before you can really get to know them.

Let’s look at an example:

James and I had a lot in common. We grew up in the same town and knew a lot of the same people. We had never met as kids, but later on, towards the end of college, we met online. Here comes the first date. We had a nice time talking over milkshakes for about an hour. At the end of the date, he walked me to my car, gave me a little hug and got the door for me. I said my polite “this was fun,” and I meant it. I just wasn’t sure if I would give him a second date. Sure, he was nice. He was a gentleman. He paid the bill and opened the doors. We had a similar childhood and had the same religious beliefs. To top it off, he was extremely good-looking. What was the problem?

I wasn’t sure if I felt a spark. I wasn’t sure if we would have much to talk about. I wasn’t sure that we would enjoy the same things. I wasn’t sure if his good manners were just a show. I wasn’t sure if our different levels of education would become a problem down the road.

Still, I was intrigued. I did want to find out the answers to my questions. I knew he would probably be a nice friend to have. I just wasn’t sure that I could date him. So what did I do?

I decided to tell him that I wasn’t ready for a relationship. But, we enjoyed each other’s company so we went out a few more times, as friends. Then came “date” number 3, when the sparks finally hit full-force and we ended up kissing goodnight and planning DATE number 4. We’ve been very happy ever since.

I’m not 100% perfect, and neither is James. We’re human, after all. My mom always told me, don’t look for the guy who is without fault. Look for the guy who has faults that you can live with. Give a guy a chance. You never know how happy can be until you try.

(Of course, many women, especially young ones, make the mistake of dealing with WAY too many faults in a partner, thanks to their insecurity. See Are College Relationships Detrimental for Women?)

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“Dating in the Dark” & Internet Dating: Does it Work?

I’d have to say yes. James and I have been together for a year and a half and, believe it or not, we met online. My cousin Tony is getting married this September to a girl he met online. People everywhere are finding love over the internet. On the other hand, I have a lot of friends who have tried internet dating with absolutely no luck whatsoever.

Why is it that tons of people are still single after months and months of being on dozens of websites?

Recently I’ve been watching that new show on ABC, “Dating in the Dark”, and it seemed to me to have a lot in common with online dating. In both case, you choose your partner from a pool of “applicants”, and get to know them without knowing what they look like. (It’s true there are pictures in online dating, but people often have a different impression of a person once they’ve seen them in real life.) In both “Dating in the Dark” and online dating, people who develop fantastical expectations in the beginning get turned off and run away when they are forced to see the person in the light.

From watching the first few episodes of the show, it looks like the biggest factor that breaks up a couple is unrealistic expectations. There was one couple in the first episode that seemed to get along great in the dark. They hit it off so well, actually, that all they did was make out. They didn’t spend any time getting to know each other beyond the physical aspect. When their true appearances were revealed, the girl was put off by the guy’s sloppy attire and decided right away to break it off. Was she shallow? Maybe so. But the real problem here wasn’t her, exactly. It was her unrealistic expectations–and her inordinate infatuation–fueled by a few too many smooches.

In internet dating, like “Dating in the Dark”, your perception of the other person is going to change after your first meeting “in the light”. There’s no question, it will change. Your only hope of surviving this is to keep and open mind. You have to go into the meeting with a blank slate. Nothing ruins your impartiality like too much flirting beforehand. If you say something sexual online to the other person, you’re going to feel awkward when their looks don’t match up to what you’ve been imagining. If you keep your online conversation to a PG level, you have a much better chance of having a good first meeting.

I think the problem with internet dating, for a lot of girls, is that they either are too naive to know what to avoid, or too jaded to keep and open mind. It’s true, for every prince charming there are a hundred slimy toads. If a guy sends you an introductory email containing the phrase “I think we’re meant to be”, RUN. Learn how to smell bonafide BS. The other thing you have to avoid, if you’re serious, is overbearing flirtation. Sure, it’s flattering, but usually if a guy is layering it on in the beginning, he’s not going to amount to much later. A guy like that is building up his own expectations in his mind, rather than taking the time to get to know the real you.

The most important advice I could give anyone who’s looking for love online would be to keep an open mind. For example, when I saw James’s profile for the first time and notice his lackadaisical writing style, I didn’t think he was for me. In fact, when I met up with him for our first date, I still didn’t think he was for me, but there was something about him that sparked my curiosity. After our second date, I was intrigued. I bought a new outfit for our third date, and after that I knew this was something special. Sure enough, he turned out to be absolutely perfect for me.

The keys to success in internet dating are common sense, perseverance and open-mindedness. People are usually much different in person than they are online, so its good not to get emotionally involved before meeting them in person. The people on “Dating in the Dark” might be shallow, but I think the real problem is that they let their imaginations ruin their chances.

So what’s the lesson from all of this? Give people a chance. You never know who could turn out to be the best friend you’ve ever had.