Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Having standards means you'll be lonely

Well, if you're a woman anyhow. That's the ongoing theme at MSN and we have a real doozy today. "Am I too picky?" The answer? Yes. Probably because women are by definition too damn picky.

Over the years, I’ve developed this long list (and it’s growing longer!) of turn-offs and pet peeves, perhaps developed from ex-boyfriends, especially the last guy I dated. How do I get past these instant judgments I make on first dates about everything from table manners to grammar to annoying habits?

My first thought is if the word ain't or the habit of picking your teeth annoys you on the first date, imagine having to see or hear this every day for the rest of your life. Her inclination seems like a good one to me--dump somebody now to save him from being quietly smothered in his sleep after his wife cracks from seeing him pick his teeth at dinner one too many times.

I have been repeatedly told by my friends and family that the reason I’m not married is that I’m too picky. What’s a girl to do?

I can see why your friends think you're too picky. Marrying the first person you go out with works out so well for most people, after all.

The woman here to berate you for being picky is one of my all-time favorites, Rachel Greenwald, known for applying her MBA to the dating world. After she gives the obligatory, "You can have standards, but just not, you know, standards" intro, she dives into a three-point plan to help you lower your standards and thereby catch a man.

1. First, categorize which problems can be changed in the man and which ones can’t.

You can have those silly standards after you marry.

The man has bad table manners? Easy to change! Most people just haven’t been taught which fork is used for the salad and where to put the soup spoon after eating the soup. You’ll teach him later (that doesn’t make him a bad or ignorant person). Bad breath, bad clothing, bad mustache: all these types of things can be changed under the influence of the right woman combined with a man motivated by love.

Nothing makes a happy marriage like marrying someone you don't like and trying to turn him into someone you do like, after all. (MSN has advice on how to quit nagging if that becomes a problem, though.)

The things you can’t ever change, and if those things really bother you, should be the deal-breakers: lying, selfishness, temper issues, etc.

Those things are just as easy to suss out on a first date as bad manners and bad grammar, of course.

If not, you’re being too picky in the beginning and you should spend more time with him and see if chemistry develops.

Being picky later in the relationship, when it's more painful to have to dump someone due to incompatibility, is a much, much better solution.

2. Second, understand that what you might not like may actually be a good complement to your personality (and a great relationship dynamic).

Translation: If you find you don't like any of the men you meet, pretend you like them anyway and see if they'll go along with it.

For example, maybe you think you don’t like laid-back guys, perhaps they seem boring to you, but you are so uptight and high-strung that an opposite demeanor is actually perfect for you.

For instance, if Martha Stewart had married Shaggy from "Scooby Doo", she might not be in prison today. Well, not for investment fraud, anyway.

I’m a big believer in “opposites attract.” Remember, you probably won’t be happy marrying yourself.

Actually, studies show that many people would be happier if they had just married themselves.

3. Third, when you experience an annoyance (an “oh no!” moment) during a first date, make a mental note to ask yourself later, “Why is that?” Perhaps you are reacting to something that has more to do with you than with him.

It's your fault that he picks his teeth. Remember that for later, because you'll probably get blamed anyway. And by those friends who told you to quit being so picky.

For example, maybe your date shows up without a plan for the evening, and he asks, “What would you like to do? I haven’t made any reservations: I thought I’d let you decide.” You are immediately turned off because you ‘hate guys who don’t take charge.’

Or maybe it's just annoying when someone shows up and expects you to entertain him.

Later that night you think to yourself, “Why does it bug me when a guy doesn’t take charge?”

Because you didn't even have a pair of tap shoes, much less a routine worked out.

Perhaps you realize that your father was indecisive, your mother made all the decisions, and when they divorced you blamed your father. Now you resent all men who don’t take charge.

Time to light up that cigar, because it's going to be a long night.

Whatever the reason, you may have an “aha” moment when you realize that your pet peeve is more psychological on your part (and you can work on that), rather than a fatal flaw on the part of the guy you’re dating.

Not that you won't set to working on changing him the second he slips a ring on your finger, of course.

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