How many boxes?

This is not something I ever imagined I would say, but somewhere between 21 and 31 meeting a new man has become closer to ticking things off a shopping list than simply going on a date? Is this normal? It appears so. By this stage in life, women no longer look at a mans face and think, yes, you’re pretty; instead the mind hurtles through a check list of unknown length stamping him with naughty, nice or miscellaneous.

It’s not like we go out, dress on, heels high, looking to check things off the ‘desirable’ list. Came to the door. Check. Let me order first. Check. Didn’t lick his knife. Check. But everyone has ideal qualities in mind and why not. There’s the small things, hair colour, height, age, marital status, these we can shift on, these are negotiable, after all, don’t sweat the small stuff, not when the big ones are the breakers. Blond, dark. Short, tall. Kids, alone. Romantic, funny. These are the boxes. Even if at first you don’t think you have them, they exist and from what I can see, the list grows with experience.

And then there are the essentials. These bad boys are the deal breakers riding right at the top. For Chrissy, it’s ‘the throw down’, if he can’t give it rough, she’s walking. Jess, its drama, he needs to deliver the punches, not just take them. A man who lies down, is a man who’s being walked on while she crosses the threshold into the big bad world, leaving another thrashing on the ground behind her. Leah’s all about the mind. Who wants a pretty package all tied up in ribbon if there’s nothing but hot air inside?

But this is no game; it’s an art. It’s about honing in on the essentials, then loosening your grip on the minor details and the more you do it, the quicker you get. Doesn’t like animals – out. Neurotic hobby enthusiast – out. Dirt under his nails – out. (unless it’s grease from fixing a car or something ugg like that, that we can deal with). I have learnt this in a very short space of time. You walk out of a ten year relationship into the beastly world of dating and there’s no way your not getting bitten on the ass a few times. And no, I don’t mean in the bedroom! I had no idea how important it was to me that a man holds the door, until one let it close in my face. Or that immature, sarcastic flirting really wasn’t my thing, been there, done that, fifteen years ago. Who knew how important it was that he pulls out the chair. Or shares the last chip. Nor did I realize domestication came pretty high on my priority list. Isn’t there just something fabulous about a man who knows how to bleach dish cloths and change the fuse in a plug? These are the quaint essentials of old fashioned standards with a dash of the contemporary. And I’m not the only girl looking for them.

Word of warning though – do not be a stickler. It may be unlikely, but stranger things have happened than being taken by surprise by a divorcee with two kids when you were window shopping for a mid thirty long term virgin.

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