Janice Lieberman, the consumer correspondent on The Today Show, has written a "consumer guide to getting a great buy on a guy." I found it funny, albeit only slightly tongue in cheek, and I think Janice makes a lot of good points. However, when I recommended it to my friend Jennifer, who's also dating, she said, "I know how to date...I'm sick of dating. Just tell me what it says."
Copyright 2009, Judith Reppucci
Okay, Jen, so here it is. True, some of what Janice says, we already know, starting with choosing performance and value over packaging. I've always called this "substance over style," but, after all, she's going with a consumer theme. Anyway, before she was married, Janice told talk show host Charles Grodin that she wanted a smart, good-looking wealthy, athletic guy with a sense of humor.Grodin disagreed, and told her that instead, "You want somebody who loves you, cares about your family, somebody you can trust, who's kind, and who wants children." I agree with Charles.
Let's start with all those activities you enjoy so much, which in Janice's case, seemed to be athletics. I can tell you this; you will like doing almost anything (within reason) with the right person. That doesn't mean I'm not still searching for a ballroom dance partner, but I guess I can get into golfing if it really mattered...
Another major point from Grodin: choose a guy with good guts. That means good core values. Values aren't flashy, and they take time to inspect, but you'll know them when you see them in a person of integrity and honor. He's kind to his mother, he's kind to your mother, doesn't abuse substances, and wants the same lifestyle you want I couldn't agree more; I had a date with a man who was mean to our waitress -- the curtain opened and showed his impatience and sarcasm. He's also the one who, to my wonderful dad's outrage, accepted my offer to help pay for dinner. Bye-bye, Palsy.
Next, Janice says check under the hood and buy a model with a powerful engine. You can compromise in other areas, but don't settle for a relationship without sexual chemistry. Okay, 'nuf said. Who wants a putt-putt?
Janice also recommends choosing the guy who's the male equivalent of the little black dress -- the one that you'll keep in your wardrobe and turn to for years. The qualities she lists as aspects of "keepers" may be a bit controversial, but, hey, I'm just reporting the information. Here are the male LBD requirements:
1. He's a little less attractive than you.
2. He washes the dishes.
3. He lets you have your way.
4. He's college educated.
5. He's not Type A.
6. He earns more money than you.
7. He's not hyper-sexual, overly kinky or surrounded by hot women at work.
8. He's not an isolated, grumpy or generally unhappy person.
I can hear the outrage already, but, again, if you want to debate this, please get the book and read Janice's explanations.
Okay, now on to what might be one of the more important chapters; Using the dressing room mirror. Janice says that according to research on what makes a happy marriage, the more similar people are in their values, backgrounds and life goals, the more likely they are to have a successful marriage. So look for someone who is most like you in looks, wealth, social status, educational level, family background and personality traits. This is featured in several of the on-line dating programs, including eHarmony. The five "mirror images" we should be looking for are:
1. Extroversion. Your levels of sociability should match. If he's a party boy, and you prefer the home life, rethink.
2. Agreeableness. Easy-going or constant pain in the patotey? If you play well with others, it's best that he does, too.
3. Conscientiousness. How responsible are you? A slacker mentality won't mix with a control freak.
4. Neuroticism. In other words, don't choose Woody Allen unless you're Annie Hall.
5. Openness to experience. Adventure skier and heirloom sewer? Probably won't work.
Are you liking this? There's a good chapter on communication skills, but I'll skip to the last chapter in part one, advice from those in long-term marriages. I loved this chapter, because there were a lot of surprising characteristics that I knew subconsciously (note that the first item is FOOD!), but have never seen mentioned before.
But, in general, the good news is that the couples in healthy marriages believed that, once you had found someone with the good guts, the little black dress qualities, the mirror image characteristics, etc, it doesn't -- yes, they said doesn't -- take all that much to make a happy marriage. A lot of options, like taste in music or appreciation for fine wines, don't count for much. But some factors that do matter? Big breath: Food (See? If he's disinterested in food, he just should step away from my clan of Italian cooks.), education (it should be fairly similar), degree of love for the outdoors, whether or not he likes your friends (um, he should like them), where you want to live, desire for children, money and sex. Less important, but still significant options include relative interest in sports, television and politics. Things that turn out not to matter all that much include interest in the arts, belief in working after children, your feelings towards his mother (ha!) and age differences.
Whoa. So, this wasn't a review so much as a recap, but I do think this book is a worthwhile resource. I hope my little overview helped those of us still looking for our true love. Let me know what you think!