The Secret to Love: Mr. Imperfect is Actually Mr. Right

We interrupt our regular programming for this gem of a letter from a reader. Jeanne embodies the spirit of Advice From a Single Dating Expert and I’m thrilled to give her the floor today.

Like many of you, Jeanne’s a self-described “catch” who was really struggling in love. Seems there were no quality guys for her and she felt woefully unappreciated by the emotionally unavailable men she was meeting. She articulately confessed her frustration, and I wrote her a reply with my typical, “look in the mirror”, “take responsibility”, “see the male side of things” response. I would encourage you to read it before you move forward, because it sets the table for what comes next.

And boy, do I love what comes next:

Dear Evan,

I was reading your response to 3/24/08 Paula and I realize that I have been remiss! Evan, you and I had a special “anniversary” last week.:-)

A year ago, I wrote you in desperation with my dating life. And it seems that I quickly graduated to “Where are all the emotionally available mentally healthy men?” Little did I realize what staying power my issue had :-).

So I would like to give you and your readers an update on my situation – especially since I think it is very, very relevant to Paula.

You were quite harsh with me in your response on 3/21/07 – ouch!!!!:-)

But desperate times require desperate measures, so I held up the mirror and painstakingly went through your commentary for applicability:

1)  Men think women over 40 are “hard”. That was an easy one. You will find no one on the planet more laid back and fun loving than me – and I have a zillion people to verify that :-).

2)  Do I have an over-inflated sense of self and exaggerate in my online dating profile? My pictures were 4 months old. And while I talked about my work “saving the world” so to speak, I also noted that I rode my bicycle into my neighbor’s car because I am a hopeless spaz. :-)  So I was honest in my profile.

3)  Your conclusion? If I was who I said I was, then some single dad would find me irresistible someday.

You were right.  I met him 2 days later.

It took 5 months to make me realize that there was this extraordinary man who was in love with me and who would wait as long as it took for me to get my $h!t together.

Did I know that I had met him? Like Paula, I had an image of what would be the “right” man for me.  Did the gentleman I meet on that date fit? He soooooooooooooooo didn’t – he was bald, gray and wore glasses!

It took 5 months – and a whole lot of dates with other men, and a really bad experience with a man whom I felt explosive ‘chemistry’ with – to make me realize that there was this extraordinary man who was in love with me and who would wait as long as it took for me to get my $h!t together. …

He is brilliant and incredibly witty. And he wants to leave the world in a little better shape than when he joined it and has devoted his entire adult life to that cause. He is a gentleman in the true meaning of the word.  He does his best to be the best man he can be. And when he fails, he grieves terribly. He loves my daughters madly and can’t get enough of being with them. He rarely loses his cool and has great communication skills, even in the most difficult of conversations. And I took a second look at him and thought “hmmm….he kind of has that ‘hot professor’ look going on” – not to mention what he is like as a lover :-).

Its not always been easy – we’ve had a couple of really big issues that were “Evan blog-worthy” and I thought for sure would be dealbreakers. But we dealt with them. And fell more in love.

And we celebrated our one year anniversary this past weekend.

So “Happy Anniversary,” Evan  :-)

Congratulations to Jeanne. You deserve all the credit in the world for focusing on what was really important in a relationship. And this was the SECOND letter today I received from someone who had the SAME EXACT experience as you.

The other person is my private client. She’s in her early sixties, lives in Virginia, and is, by all accounts, a catch. Attractive, successful, opinionated, young for her age. Yet she was really struggling with dating – especially after having her heart crushed by a Match.com guy last year. Together, Katherine and I worked together to give her a new lease on love – with new online photos and essays, of course, but most importantly, with a whole new outlook on dating.

After a month, she was seeing a man who she described as a good guy – but not quite what she was looking for. Turns out he was a little short for her tastes – she can see eye-to-eye with him without heels. And he wasn’t as rugged and manly as her ideal guy. She likes men who can saddle up horses and fix things around the house. The new Match guy didn’t quite qualify, which is why she was on the fence about him.

I asked her to tell me – regardless of this guy – what was most important in a relationship; what she really NEEDED. The list came back as you might expect: a man who treats me well, a man who makes me laugh, a man who loves family, a man who respects women, a man who is cute, a man who is financially stable. “Got it,” I said. “So, how many of those things apply to this Match guy?” She took a moment to think about it. “All of them,” she said, laughing. “I guess I’ll give him another shot.” Here’s what Katherine wrote to me this morning:

One of the best tips you gave me was that the right guy is not necessarily “Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome.

Dear Evan,

I just want to thank you for your great advice and understanding, as we worked together toward finding the perfect man for me. I really enjoyed our telephone conferences and always looked forward to the next one. Your insight really kept me on track. And although it took literally hours and hours of searching through profiles on various websites, all the hard work paid off. I’m very happy with the new man in my life, and I wouldn’t have found him without your help. One of the best tips you gave me was that the right guy is not necessarily “Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome.”

Many thanks,

Katherine

What Katherine didn’t say is that she’s taken her Match profile down, introduced the guy to her kids, and is traveling with him in Europe for ten days in April.

If you’re not inspired by this, please check your pulse. 42-year-old single moms finding love? 61-year-old double divorcees finding love? All I can say is this:

I LOVE http://www.evanmarckatz.com/coaching/. Thank you all for trusting me to assist you.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Steve

    Evan, all of that is very impressive but did any of those people win a gender politics/gripe argument on the internet? Priorities, please.

  2. 2
    dadshouse

    I love hearing when people drop their preconceived “image” of their perfect mate and fall in love for all the right reasons. Awesome stories! In my years of dating as a divorced man and single dad, my longest lasting relationship came when a friend set me up with one of her girlfriends. My date admitted to me on the phone beforehand that she would NEVER date a single dad, and she was only meeting me to be nice to her friend. Not the best way to meet for a blind date, but at least she was honest. When we met for drinks and dinner, I have to admit my first reaction was that her “pear-shaped” body type didn’t match my “image” of an ideal woman.

    And yet… our date was great. The more we talked and learned what made the other person tick internally, the more we started to fall for each other. We ended up dating for over a year, and she was one of the few women I dated who I introduced to my kids. Things didn’t work out longer, but I still look back and think fondly of our time together. We had a great run that wouldn’t have happened at all if we both had stuck to preconceived images of the ideal mate.

  3. 3
    Victoria

    I think this is great, GREAT! Remember Charlotte and Harry from “Sex and the City”? If you can be yourself with that other person and of course attracted to him/her – you found your match!

  4. 4
    Jennifer

    I love the success stories too, but it does bring me down a bit to think I’m gonna have to end up with a ‘Harry’ (from Sex and The City) or equivalent look-alike. No it’s not all about the looks, but it is a little bit.

  5. 5
    Steve


    Jennifer Mar 27th 2008 at 12:29 pm 4
    I love the success stories too, but it does bring me down a bit to think I’m gonna have to end up with a Harry (from Sex and The City) or equivalent look-alike. No it’s not all about the looks, but it is a little bit.

    Is it really that hard to find a decent looking guy who is,…decent?

  6. 6
    Lance

    I don’t see why the younger women commenting on this blog are adverse to dating older guys. Has anyone seen the latest with Kristy Hinze (age 27) and Jim Clark (age 63)? That guy isn’t exactly a looker…see here:
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23429815-2,00.html

    The fact is, older men have a higher value in comparison to their male counterparts in the their 20s and 30s. More money, more stability, more material possessions, more life experience, higher emotional intelligence, more of everything. BTW, those older guys realize this and want to date younger, hot women because, to put it simply, they can. Are you a single, rich, 45 year old guy? Guess what…that dude can pull a 28 year old single, childless woman. I’m not judging it right or wrong.

    Setting aside pre-conceived notions about the health and vibrancy of older men, what’s wrong with a 45 year old woman dating a 58 year old dude? I guess I should be asking, why aren’t the gals on this blog attracted to older men? Is it looks?

  7. 7
    christine

    hi lance,

    i’ve dated older men. i’m 42 and i dated an 80 year old man. i liked that he treated me well and had heated seats in his car. lol

  8. 8
    JerseyGirl

    Lance,

    There are a few things you said that I disagree with.

    If Jim Clark was a school teacher, he most likely wouldn’t be dating any 27 year old at 63. You can’t compare “hollywood/rich/famous” life styles with the typical human experience.

    I have dated older men at times, but I wouldn’t say that older men have a higher value then a man in his 20s or 30s. They are just different, not necessarily better not necessarily worse. I actually think men 20-30s are in their prime and am most attracted to taht age group. Older men aren’t necessarily more emotionally intelligent, more intelligent in general, more stable or put together. Some older men are, true. Some men aren’t. Some men in their 20s and 30s are all those thigns as well.

    I also question the emotional maturity of a man that is more concerned with pulling someone younger then him then if someone just happens to date people of all ages, younger or older. I try to stay away from the men that only date younger women. It’s a red flag that tells me what he values. And the truth is everyone ages, men too! And I want a man with the emotional maturity to grow out of that frat boy mentality.

    As for your comment about ” setting aside pre-conceived notions about the health and vibrancy of older men…” I actually consider that something very important. In men or women. There are more risks with older men sometimes healthwise, just as there are with women. I remember dating this one older guy when I was 24 and him aching about his aging pains was a turn OFF. He was in good shape but did have some age related issues and at 24, I wasn’t very tolerant of it.

    In a time where women now both work and take care of the kids; I think most women want a partner who will also be able to have the energy to keep up with that and the children. It’s also been proven that that as men age, their sperm has a higher potenial to carry diease just as older woman have higher risk for having a baby.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with a 45 year old woman dating a 58 year old man. Or even a 28 year old woman dating a 40 year old man. But I don’t think older means “better” even if some men think younger means better.

    And I don’t want to be with a guy that thinks younger means better because that leaves no room for growth inside himself, or for his partner who is only going to get older everyday. It isn’t the fact that man date younger women that can bother women. It’s men’s mind set that they are “better” and that women only get “worse” with age. Women or men don’t want to feel easily replacable.

  9. 9
    TMan

    The pull-quote for this article bothers me a little:

    “It took 5 months to make me realize that there was this extraordinary man who was in love with me and who would wait as long as it took for me to get my $h!t together.”

    Umm, no. An extraordinary man will rarely wait for you to get your sh!t together. Our time is valuable. Jerk us around with the “I just need some time to figure things out” line, and we’ll be *gone*.

    One of the lamest things I ever said to a girl who wanted to delay a relationship was, “That’s OK. You’re worth waiting for.” I was young and stupid then. Long story short: there was nothing worth waiting for, because she got another guy. Hey, that’s fine…but I was dumb for putting my desire for a relationship on hold.

  10. 10
    Kat Wilder

    Evan, I did look back at your earlier posting in which you said that successful, intelligent woman “can often be anxious, self-righteous, negative, and entitled.”

    And so can successful, intelligent men. Those are human feelings, not gender-based.

    Research has proven that we are drawn to attractive people, and there’s nothing wrong in acknowledging that we’re not attracted to someone who’s bald, heavy, short, tall, hairy, whatever. That doesn’t change just because age.

    But I believe most of us are surprised how quickly we lose that when we meet someone genuinely smart, funny, kind, grounded, etc. And when we start to really dig a person, he/she becomes more attractive to us anyway.

    It isn’t just getting rid of preconceived notions of what Mr./Ms. Right looks like; it’s clarifying what qualities are important for others to have for us to want to be with them their world view, their moral compass, etc. and then dating (or befriending) mindfully.

  11. 11
    Alan

    Woot! Yay for success stories!

  12. 12
    Steve

    Hey Evan;

    Can I make a suggestion that you prominently post on your site that there is a convention that whenever you….or one of us, uses the word wo/man that it should be taken as “people”, inclusive?

    Almost everyone here is reasonable and level headed to the point that they will freely admit that most dating issues apply to both sexes.

    It is getting tiring having each thread turn into a gender gripe.

    It reminds me of that old joke about going to a fight and having a hockey game breakout. I’m wondering if I should go to a blog about gender politics and hope that they spontaneously start giving out advice about dating :)

  13. 13
    Jennifer

    Steve Mar 27th 2008 at 01:00 pm 5
    Is it really that hard to find a decent looking guy who is, decent?

    Steve, I certainly hope not! And I’m still optimistic. It’s just a pattern in almost every success story I hear- a woman ‘gives a guy a chance’ that she never would’ve looked at twice and then she is happy. I never hear about the stories where a woman meets a guy who looks the way she wants him too and is a decent guy too; I’d like to hear some of those stories too, just to balance things out.

  14. 14
    Evan Marc Katz

    You’re right, Kat. EVERYTHING we’re talking about here is HUMAN, not gender-based.

    The primary reason that women readers might think I have it in for them is because THEY are the ones asking the questions. If four out of five questions were from men, they’d be getting the same requests to look in the mirror, take responsibility, see the other side, etc.

    I don’t favor one gender. I favor reality. I favor controlling our own behavior instead of complaining that the world doesn’t conform to our needs.

  15. 15
    Steve

    Jennifer Mar 28th 2008 at 08:03 am 13
    I never hear about the stories where a woman meets a guy who looks the way she wants him too and is a decent guy too;

    Jennifer, I understand that you can’t speak for all women, but I have heard comments similar to yours before. As a single guy I am curious as to what women are looking for in terms of looks. What do you think women are looking for in looks beyond just height, non-Ernest Borgnine face, not overweight, not skinny, current hair cut, clean clothes that fit properly, and standard hygiene?

    If you still feel like indulging my curiosity what do women mean by “decent” beyond : being polite, considerate of others, self assured, listens, and has his life together?

    I guess I am having trouble seeing that there is a shortage of men with these qualities. In my area people just don’t go out enough to be seen so I am wondering if that is part of it.

  16. 16
    abf

    I love the success stories too, but it does bring me down a bit to think I’m gonna have to end up with a Harry (from Sex and The City) or equivalent look-alike. No it’s not all about the looks, but it is a little bit.

    Jennifer, you are missing the point. “Harry” became more attractive to Charlotte once she dropped her preconceived notions of what her husband should look like and accepted Harry “as is.” If you do the same, believe me, you won’t be down one bit if you end up with a “Harry.”

    And for what its worth, I think Evan Handler (the actor who portrayed Harry) is adorable (and a talented actor to boot). So remember not everyone is attracted to the same type of people.

  17. 17
    Mattie

    These stories are wonderful! Thank you, Evan, for letting us read them. Maybe there is hope for a penniless, failed old bat like me!

    Steve: I am second to none in my admiration for you, and your invariably thoughtful, interesting and reasoned comments. Just don’t diss Ernest Borgnine, right? He was HOT, yesssss! My (very pretty) mum was madly in lust with him for decades – and she was happily married for 45 years to a Cary Grant clone!

    So what appeals to women in a man? See above! It’s all as varied as … I dunno; you can think of something.

    But, yes, you’re right to enquire about the values. As have the successfully- and happily-mated pair of couples we’ve read about here. That’s the whole point of this particular stream: get the essential, vital and non-negotiable shared values sorted, and everything else tends to follow.

    Anyway, looking at your list of desirable qualities, I reckon you’ve got them covered. Well done, you! And thanks.

  18. 18
    Jennifer

    abf,
    I completely get what you are saying; i guess I’m just curious about why I almost never hear about a woman that meets a man who *does* fit with her pre-conceived notion of attractive and is decent to boot. It’s gotta happen sometimes, right? I understand that as you get to know someone they can become more attractive to you; I’ve experienced it myself. I just wanna hear some stories (and not just from Evan, but in general) of a woman who falls (happily) in love with someone she found attractive right from the start.

    Charlotte not only had to abandon her notion of what she found attractive, but also her religion to be with Harry. Is the message/upshot that the majority of women will have to do that much changing of themselves to be with a decent guy? I’d hope not :-)

  19. 19
    Jennifer

    Steve,
    Good questions but, as you know, tough to answer! I think that beyond what you’ve listed, what a person finds attractive (and decent) is pretty subjective.

    I think what you often hear women complaining about is finding a shortage of guys that both look and act the way a woman wants them to. And more specifically, finding a shortage of those men that want the woman in return. I think lots of factors come into play- age and geography just to name two. But people get older and may be more likely to ‘settle down’ and if you grew up in a small town with not a lot of men you’re attracted to, you can move.

    I guess I’d like to hear more stories of women finding love that had previously eluded them because they turned 28 (cause now the men their age are more open to settling down) or because they moved to a big city with a lot more options than their home town, or even because she learned more about how to deal with the opposite sex successfully, as opposed to *only* finding a decent guy because she made concessions on what she originally found attractive.

  20. 20
    Steve

    Mattie Mar 28th 2008 at 10:27 am 17
    Anyway, looking at your list of desirable qualities, I reckon you’ve got them covered. Well done, you! And thanks.

    Thanks for letting me know I am on the right track! The bathing regularly thing was a tough one to figure out :). Modern women.


    Jennifer Mar 28th 2008 at 10:31 am 18
    abf,
    I completely get what you are saying; i guess I’m just curious about why I almost never hear about a woman that meets a man who *does* fit with her pre-conceived notion of attractive and is decent to boot.

    That situation isn’t a problem, so a nobody is going to write into a dating blog to complain about it for that situation to be heard about. They are just going to enjoy it and move on.

  21. 21
    abf

    Jennifer,

    Every relationship involves concessions. Now how many and to what extent will vary from person to person. Are there men/women out there who have met and married the person they always dreamed of? Probably. Do they remain together forever? Some may/some may not. The point is that as you grow and develop as an adult, what you deem attractive will change. And what you consider important for a relationship will change. Thus, in the end you are never truly settling or conceding anything and you get not only what you want and deserve but wonderful experiences that you could never imagine! (Or at least, that is what I am hoping for).

  22. 22
    Jennifer

    Good point Steve!

  23. 23
    Steve


    Charlotte not only had to abandon her notion of what she found attractive, but also her religion to be with Harry. Is the message/upshot that the majority of women will have to do that much changing of themselves to be with a decent guy? I’d hope not

    Evan achieved girlfriendy-bliss once he opened himself up to women other than liberal Jewish intellectuals.

  24. 24
    Jennifer

    I hear you abf, and I don’t really disagree. My only point was instead of always hearing the ‘the man of my dreams looked nothing like i thought he would’ story, I’d like to hear a different one sometimes! But like Steve pointed out, you may not find that story too often on dating blogs or on t.v. (doesn’t make for a good plot twist). But if i get my own ‘i got a decent guy and while i conceded some things he looks pretty close to what i wanted’ story to tell, I’ll change the norm and be the first one to share it here :-)

  25. 25
    penny

    I had an awful first marriage. I left it & worked for 5 years in therapy to build a new life. Then I met a wonderful man, who also happened to be handsome, fell in love & married. He was diagnosed a year later with an incurable disease & died 9 wonderful & awful years later. I learned that handsome & wonderful does not guarantee life long happiness. It can be gone in an instant.

    Two years ago I decided that life is too precious to sit on the sidelines. I have a very active life & decided to add online dating as another way to meet more men, and maybe build a newrelationship. Within 6 weeks I went out with 6 men. The 6th man was a lovely person & cute! We will marry this fall. He is less & more than I thought I wanted, but, so am I. There is no place else I would rather be.

  26. 26
    Paul

    I think all of us have an internal mechanism that when we see someone we either accept or reject that person almost immediantly as a potential love partner and that can really get us into trouble. It’s a little like trusting your emotions, although we all know our emotions will lie to us just about every time. I also don’t think that the right person for anyone is someone that they are not attracted to. But men are wired to see beauty (and lets face it, youth = beauty, in BOTH sexes, generally, in our culture) and all women are wired to unveil the beauty that is inherent in ALL women. It is natures way of bringing us together. God wouldn’t want us to be with someone we didn’t like…looks or otherwise. So there is someone, tons of someones in fact, out there for everybody that we are attracted to and can have an awesome relationship with. But isn’t it surprising that we can learn later that we are attracted to a person that we weren’t at first blush ? It does seem though that women are more geared to be able to adjust to a guy and look beyond certain physical qualities that might not at first seem all that attractive if she really likes a lot of other things about the guy. After all, men aren’t the ones you see in paintings hanging on art gallery walls; it’s beautiful women! A man see’s his wife getting out of the shower, he’s all eye’s (being naturally attracted to the feminine form). A woman see’s her husband getting out of the shower and she says “hey, your getting the floor all wet”. Men are simply more visually oriented – if we weren’t, we wouldn’t notice your beauty so much !
    There is someone out there for you that you are attracted to, that will also be great to have a relationship with. But…as Evan has pointed out in the “settling” vs “compromising” issue, we all have rose colored glasses when it comes to reality in what we can have a resonable chance at attracting, don’t we? I know I do…but isn’t all of life a matter of compromising anyway? It is the big picture I know I need to focus on more sometimes. But in the end…you have to be happy, right? In the end, being happy is a choice.
    Paul

  27. 27
    a&v

    Jennifer,

    At first I thought I had a “he looked pretty close to what I wanted” story for you, but then I remembered that in my story, the guy is 14 years older than me, has been through a horrific divorce and has a child (albeit lovely) from that relationship. All of those things were dealbreakers for me until I met this guy–who happens to be “tall, dark & handsome” but also good to the core, intelligent, funny, creative and crazy about me to boot. I suppose the age difference and various “baggage” means I’ve made concessions–but it doesn’t feel like it at all. (Steve’s right!)

  28. 28
    Evan's Girlfriend

    Jennifer,

    I completely get what you are saying; “I guess I’m just curious about why I almost never hear about a woman that meets a man who *does* fit with her pre-conceived notion of attractive and is decent to boot. It’s gotta happen sometimes, right?”

    Jennifer, I hate for it to seem like I’m some sort of plant in the audience, but I think I might have that story you want to hear. I would admit that Evan is not the person with whom I imagined myself, but not because of looks. Let’s just admit that we all have our ideal looks even the least shallow of us. It just so happens that I am attracted to men with dark hair and light eyes, and, if he wears glasses, that is just icing on the cake (something about that hot professor look that Jeanne mentioned). Well, Evan fits this description perfectly, down to the glasses although he does prefer to wear contacts ;) And, although I’ve never cared about height, and weight has little influence on my attraction, Evan is also taller than I am and in great shape.

    I guess I really lucked out because not only does Evan fit my looks wish-list, he has all those other, really important qualities: he is honest, kind, affectionate, intelligent, complimentary and emotionally available. And he is close to his family and wants to start his own one day. And he is willing to take dance classes and cooking courses with me. Those are the really important things, right?!?

    BUT I did have to get beyond our differences. I was actively trying NOT to date outside my religion because I thought it would just be too difficult. I had no real experience with Jewish men, let alone a Jewish atheist. And, as I am divorced, I was really hoping to find someone who had also been married before or at least had been in a really meaningful long-term relationship. I assumed this would make the man more aware of the challenges of relationships. Evan, being a serial dater and a Jewish atheist, was not at all what I was seeking. But I am so thankful that I didn’t let these issues — that I once thought to be deal-breakers let me miss out on being with this great catch of a man.

    And, as Steve mentioned, I know I didn’t come in the packaging that Evan envisioned. Like me, he had to overlook a few things to discover what is really important in a mate. And I couldn’t be happier that he did!

  29. 29
    JB

    The “Charlotte” scenario is an exception to the rule and to normal dating scenario’s ESPECIALLY online dating scenarios where the bald guy with glasses has a better chance of being struck by lightening on a sunny day than he does of even getting a response from someone that looks like Charlotte or most other women for that matter. Maybe one out of 10 million times it might happen where a woman falls for a “normal” guy who’s lower on the looks & status chain but those aren’t odds I’d bet on. For every story like Katherines there’s a million “I can’t meet anyone decent” stories.

    And Katherine EVERY man is “Mr. Imperfect” as is every woman.

  30. 30
    Lance

    @Christine in comment #7. You, ma’am, have a keenly developed sense of irony. Very attractive! And I mean that in an unironic way ;)

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