Honestly, it's more about not getting most men. [For 'man,' read 'human person-unit.'] There are roughly three and a half billion people of your preferred gender out there in the world, so the one you're going to want to wind up with is a statistical anomaly. A blip. First you have to rule out all the non-contenders. That means establishing your non-starters, deal breakers, and game changers right from the beginning. Next, have a sense of how you want to feel in a relationship, and try to create as many elements of that as possible through platonic relationships with other people. If you ever do settle down with someone, it should be a value-add, an improvement on the rich and fabulous life you have when you're alone.
If you have to ask whether someone is right for you, he probably isn't.
Friendship first. If it's the right person, it will still be the right person five years from now.
Only date people who are nice to you.
Never sleep with anyone you wouldn't want to share custody with.
Guard your DNA materials carefully.
Spend time with people you respect, people you like, and people you love. Not all your friends need to fit all three of those categories, but a love match should AT MINIMUM be someone you respect, like, and love.
Would you date yourself?
Make space for someone. Whether that winds up being a romantic partner, a new best friend, or a talking crow, have somewhere for them to sit and somewhere for them to hang their hat. If you make friends with a talking crow who wears a hat, get a third chair and invite me over, too.
There is nothing that all men like. No fashion trend, activity, or type of food, anyway. The few things you can say about "what men want" are that they want to be regarded as individuals, they generally appreciate knowing what to expect from you, and they respond to ambivalence about as well as you do. A man once told me he just wanted "someone who digs me." Find someone you like, and like him. Find more people you like, and like them, too.
A relationship is demanding. It only works if you're honest, if you're willing to be vulnerable, and if you're willing to take responsibility for yourself. These are things you can do alone, and should do alone for a while before inflicting yourself on someone else. Make a list of your expectations about a fantasy romantic relationship, and then set about creating those conditions for yourself. Don't expect someone else to come along and solve your problems, whether those are self-esteem problems, body image problems, financial problems, or homemaker problems. I was my own wife long before I remarried, and I was good at it, too.
What do men like? I only know what the men who have liked me have liked. Several men have told me that "you're not like other girls." I am by no means broad-spectrum appealing. I snort when I laugh. Sometimes I have witch hair. I have an extremely coarse and uncouth sense of humor. My ex-husband told me that "the amount that you read is unnatural." What I have always done is to speak my mind, prodigiously and at great length. Sometimes I'm funny, mostly I just bloviate, but I always let them know what I think. I don't do guessing games or "if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you." I fake nothing.
I set strong boundaries early on. First, I have a questionnaire. "If you answer my questionnaire, I'll tell you anything you want to know." I will toss in random questions with serious questions. "Have you ever been to clown college?" Followed by "do you own a firearm?" "What is your name, what is your quest, what is your favorite color?" Followed by "are you legally married or can you be said to be in a romantic relationship of any stage right now?" "Will you take me to Funky Town?" Followed by "what does monogamy mean to you?" "Do you have kids? Crunchy or creamy peanut butter? Have you ever been arrested?" In under five minutes, I can quickly weed out all the non-contenders. Any man left standing is laughing, shaking his head, and really starting to be intrigued. What Will She Say Next?
If it looks like we're going to get involved, I spell it out. "I am a one-man woman. I don't cheat and I don't share. If you don't think you can be satisfied with a monogamous relationship, go in peace, but if you want to be with me, it needs to be exclusive. All your body parts are belong to me." The kind of person who prefers exclusivity finds this reassuring. "If you start to get bored with me, just tell me. I expect honesty. I need to know what you think and how things are for you." This has to be backed up with genuine action. The first time you get a critique, be receptive and responsive. Always reward what you claim to want.
Ask for what you want. Every man I have ever talked to about this agrees: Ask for what you want. Be specific. Be reasonable. Be fair. Don't make any rules or ultimatums that you wouldn't want to be applied to yourself. Be willing to go first, initiate challenging conversations, and expose your own vulnerabilities. Make it easy to agree with you and easy to please you. It should be obvious what it takes to make you happy.
What works for most people is usually pretty straightforward, simple, and low-maintenance. Do the things that work for this individual human. If you aren't sure what those things are, ask. "What is best in life?" Let him get in the door and have a few minutes to unwind before striking up a conversation - about any subject, not just the urgent stuff. Respect his personal space as you would want yours respected. Constant togetherness is unrealistic. If you freak out at being left to your own devices for a couple of hours at a stretch, you're not emotionally ready for dating yet. You're probably also not very interesting. A relationship is something you make space for out of your busy, fulfilling, complete life. It is not a substitute for a complete life.
My first marriage was a disaster. I got married to the wrong person, at the wrong time in my life, for the wrong reasons. It took a long time to recover from the aftermath. The blessing in disguise was that it really helped to clarify what I want, what I'm willing to give, and how to appreciate even minor things that work well. I had to make a conscious decision about whether I still believed in marriage and romantic love, and I chose Yes. It is so very definitely better to be single than to be with a bad match that there are no words adequate to express this fully. Be available when the right one comes along. Never settle for a maybe or an almost. It's either a heck yeah or a heck no.
Being with the right person is one of the great goods in life. That's true whether it's a colleague, teammate, friend, sibling, pet, or romantic partner. We would probably do better to raise our expectations for various Platonic relationships and lower our expectations for romance. I mean, there are a lot of weird ideas about 'soulmates' and 'love at first sight' and simultaneous whatevers that only serve to confuse us, complicating what should feel natural and comfortable. True love includes a lot of hanging out on the couch together, as well as a lot of concentrating on work and mundanity and sometimes briefly forgetting your special someone exists. Sample conversation with my husband: "What are you thinking about?" "Motors." A man is not a cardboard cutout of a bridegroom. The company of an interesting, mature adult person who likes you is a worthy goal, and actually quite a big ask. Appreciate it.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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