My message today isn’t about New Year’s resolutions. It’s about truly focusing on what would make you happy and then taking small steps each day toward that happiness.
I believe people can make a list that will guide them towards this goal. If you’re not sure how to begin your list, I’ve included some ideas below that have worked well for my clients (and for me).
First of all, here are the top three traits women look for in a man: honesty, reliability, and his ability to communicate. In addition to these you might consider:
I can “be myself” when I’m with him.
I like how I feel when I’m around him.
He makes it obvious that my happiness and well-being are important to him.
He knows the difference between conversations and confrontations.
He is willing to make compromises.
He is warm and loving.
He makes me laugh.
He likes including me in other parts of his life.
Which of these “jump out” for you? If you get stuck making your list, ask a close friend to help – someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses well. Let the list be a “living” thing. Pull it out often to see if it still fits.
You’re on your way to proactively creating happiness for yourself in the New Year. If you’d like to share your list with us, we’d love to see it!
Joel: In response to a Facebook Friend who posted a list of attributes of a “Gentleman,” I posted this –
Glad to see this issue raised. I once listened to a woman in a singles group as she listed the (fairy tale) attributes of her ideal man.
When she finished, I asked, OK, so what do you bring to the table for him? After a long, long silence, she said, “Respect. I will respect him.”
To which I said, “Sorry, can’t use that. What behaviors and specific acts will you engage in to DEMONSTRATE your love; i.e., the kinds of things you listed that you know you want him to actually do for you, e.g. open the car door, etc.” (Please respond and you get extra points if you can use i.e. and e.g. in the same sentence, correctly!)
This is especially important for women looking for a mate so they can define limits and understand love is a two-way street, give and take, and, at best, giving more than you take… If you have a list of things you want from a man, put beside each item what you will actually DO for him to reciprocate.
Mind you, I like lists of things a woman wants. I have been and remain not naturally or instinctively sensitive in these matters. A woman I should have loved once, after a major fail, gave me a list she called “Minimum Expectations For Valentine’s Day.”
The next year I delivered. So… lists are good, just make sure you understand reciprocity.
If you don’t get this concept, check out “The Five Love Languages.”
Not a date but “The Graduate” illustrates age differences and difficulties in a relationship
Joel: When shopping on Match.com I searched for women within five years of my age. I thought we would be interested in the same things and have similar experiences. Maybe the music we love. Once I met a woman, we went out, I liked her and found out she was 10 years younger. I told her I worried about that. She said, “It’s always the older person who says that. I don’t care.”
Yeah, but… when I’m 80 she might feel differently. More importantly, will we have similar life experiences?
I’ve seen May-December couples who are happy so I’m sure it can work. But seems to me, especially since we get more and more locked in and resistant to change as we age, that closer in age is easier. I see many women post in their online profiles that they want a man their age or younger. When I asked women about that, they said it could be sex. “A lot of you old guys aren’t interested,” she said. Others said many men are couch potatoes.
The idea that resonated with me was that many women have been caretakers… children, an aging or sick husband, parents… they just don’t want to take care of anyone anymore. I get that, but it cuts both ways. You could be the one NEEDING care and that young guy would bolt when you tell him you have breast cancer.
Christine: Oh this is such a great subject Joel. Both the men and women I speak to in my practice often say they want to date someone their age or younger for the reasons you mentioned. In the past I used to hear “There are only jerky people using online dating.” And I’d say, “Gosh you don’t seem like a jerky person and you’re using online dating so there must be at least a few others like you. Don’t you think?” This often stopped them in their tracks. I’ve now found myself saying the same thing about the “age/health/activity level” that drive the comments about wanting to date someone younger.
My suggestion is if you’re active, don’t look or act your age and are using online dating it stands to reason there are more like you online. And if you’re not meeting people like you (and are instead meeting just the opposite) then consider what about you is attracting them or being attracted to them. Is it what you’ve written or not written in your profile? Is it the questions you ask or don’t ask during your initial communication with them? Try making some of these changes and see if you start meeting a different type of person online.
Also, don’t just depend on online dating. Get out and participate in activities that fit your lifestyle so you’ll be surrounded by “your kind of people doing you kinds of things.” (See Joel’s posting “Take A Hike“.)
I have dated men 10 years older and 10 years younger and I didn’t find either satisfying. There were always elements that are important to me missing because of the age difference. Even though sex was great with the men who were 10 years younger I got tired of having to explain my jokes that included themes they couldn’t relate to. When I dated men who were 10 years older we usually had very different goals for our futures. When I met and married my deceased husband one of the many things that was appealing to both of us was the two-year difference in our ages.
Getting over a relationship will take longer than you think
Joel: Recovering from a relationship can take a long time and some people never get over it, lapsing into discouraged apathy or bitterness. I fell in love with a woman, knew her for two years and we parted at her request. It was four and half years before I didn’t think about her and pine for her every day. I did some research and realized I was working through – and HAD to work through – the stages of grief.
All I can say is, you have to let time do its work and it will take longer than you expect, longer than it should and waaaaay longer than your family and friends think it should. Don’t let them criticize you for your grieving process.
Christine: Don’t rush your process or let anyone else rush you. No one but YOU knows how you feel, and you will know when you feel differently. The ending of a relationship can often feel like a death (even when someone doesn’t actually die). A process I’ve personally used to help myself through this grieving process (which was created by Harville Hendrix) is to:
First write down all the good things/times/memories you had with the person that you feel grief about because you’re no longer with them. Write a thank you for each memory and finally a good-bye to let each go.
Second write down all the “future things” you feel grief about because you’d hoped and now can’t experience them. And say good-bye to them as well.
Joel: Doing things you like in places you like is a good way to find a compatible partner. I would be attracted to a woman reading a book if she looked around from time to time so that I could catch her eye… if you like books and want to attract men who do, maybe coffee in a bookstore will screen in the right kind… worst case, you finish a good book…
Christine: Such great advice Joel for a single person to go to places where they like the activities. I often suggest joining a specific meet-up walking/hiking group in the local area to many of the singles I work with. These groups usually have about the same number of men and women (unusual and very good for a singles outing). Also, there are usually a variety of “skill” levels. And one of the lovely things the women have found is no matter how fast or slow they walk there are usually one or two men who will set their pace to walk with them. Benefits – good practice talking to new men, potential to meet a new woman friend to go places with, and great exercise. There’s often a potluck meal after the walk/hike so more time for interesting conversation.