Once upon a time you may have been a village maiden and the local matchmaker would have found you a husband — maybe the butcher, or the carpenter. His temperament and yours probably wouldn’t match, but you’d be expected to grow close with the passage of time.
That kind of long-term character contouring has little appeal for today’s senior woman. She craves a fast match with an attractive senior man, and she’s working from a “compatibility list” — things she insists on and things she won’t stand for.
ORGANIZING THE SEARCH
I’m not a fan of must-have lists. They don’t aid the quest; they imperil it. Right now, all over America, love-seekers are huddled over their Starbucks lattes, wondering how to extricate themselves from time-wasting chats with new “candidates” who don’t pass the test. “This woman looked totally hot on line,” I imagine one man thinking, “but 10 pounds over my weight limit is 10 pounds too many.” Women’s brains, too, are sifting silently through lists. Seth MacFarlane fan: Check. No kids at home: Check. Likes to ski: No. Ivy League: No.
How will anyone who is ruled by a list ever find a partner? Recently my friend Jason ended a “forever” relationship, his fourth this year. When I expressed my sympathies he actually responded, “I should have known not to get involved with her when I saw how far I’d strayed from my list.”
Technically speaking, none of us is list-less. A woman whose husband was unfaithful wants a man who’s inclined to fidelity. The man whose wife squandered every available penny wants fiscal prudence next time. Both sexes are wary of a partner whose kids stand firm against “replacement” of a lost parent. On the positive side, widows and widowers often look for people who embody the best traits of their lost spouses.
KEEPING MYSTERY IN THE MATCH
The most realistic lists are unconscious ones, and what draws one person to another is ultimately unquantifiable, even mysterious. We can wish for a partner who is gorgeous, agile, and well-heeled, but life rarely delivers up the ideal. How is it not stupendous to find someone who combines average good looks and modest financial assets with a penchant for loving you madly? The man who is too old, too fat, too frugal, too bald, too not into Shakespeare – what if you take a break from lamenting his failings and take a good look at his strengths?
Love rarely happens when you are so hard at work vetting candidates that you miss the chance for spontaneity. It doesn’t happen when you are working hard to find a “suitable match”, not when you are trying to engineer love. Sometimes a man you dismissed at first turns out to be Old Mr. Right after all. Being available, being patient, wistfully looking for love is productive. Trying to make love conform to an imagined ideal is not. Less-than-list-perfect will suffice for the openhearted.