You Have To Kiss A Lot of Princes Before You Marry The Frog

You Have To Kiss A Lot of Princes Before You Marry The Frog

You’ve been through a LOT when it comes to love. You’ve dated guys with whom you felt the most incredible connection, only to find out that they weren’t serious about you. You’ve dated guys with whom you didn’t feel much connection at all, and hung on for awhile hoping it would develop. You’ve dated guys who seemed great on paper, but one or both of you just couldn’t find a way to make a commitment. Everything you did, you did for a reason, and I’m not going to second-guess any of those decisions of the past. I am, however, going to share three things I learned this weekend at my 20th High School Reunion — and illustrate how they may apply to you… It’s easy to question your own judgment when dating. You may be insecure that you’re drawn to the wrong men. You may be frustrated that you can’t help who you’re attracted to. You may even look around at friends and wonder what they’ve figured out that you haven’t. Questioning your own judgment is normal. But so is the opposite: It’s easy to NEVER question your own judgment. It’s easy to form a set of beliefs and live your life by them, even if they’re flawed. It’s easy to find evidence to support these flawed beliefs, which is why you never question your own judgment. It’s easy to spend years and years stuck in negative relationship patterns, and never conclude that you’re the common denominator in each situation.

Now, as you well know, being 38 and single is certainly not a crime.

To illustrate these principles, I’ve got 3 interesting anecdotes. Now, to nostalgic people like me, a 20th reunion is a big deal. It’s not like I was super-popular in high school, but I still reflect on my high school years fondly. At the very least, I was genuinely curious about what happened to all these people whom I once considered myself close friends. One friend, in particular, is a lot like me. The only difference I’ve seen is that, as we’ve gotten older, I’ve found a measure of humility and he has not. So while I went into the reunion telling my wife, “Don’t let me talk about myself. Make sure I’m listening and asking questions,” my friend Brian’s impetus to return for the reunion was to show everybody how great he was. And it’s not like he’s wrong — he’s an impressive guy. But what Brian failed to recognize was that he wasn’t “better” than everyone else who get married at 30 and had 2 kids — he was, as I saw it, just less likely to compromise in love. His decision not to compromise meant that he’s been extremely successful in his career, he’s traveled around the world, he’s dated models. It also means he’s 38 and single. Now, as you well know, being 38 and single is certainly not a crime. But it is a choice. And while Brian was looking down on all the married suburbanites who couldn’t hop on a flight to Morocco, I was sort of envying them. Jesse took his kids to Jay, who was his local pediatrician. Barry took his kids to Stacey, who is a speech pathologist. Dan had to get up early the next day to drive his kids to soccer practice. This is, to me, the American dream. And yet all Brian could say was how sad it was that none of our peers had grown because they’re still living where we grew up in Long Island. On the contrary, I thought they had grown tremendously. In fact, all of the happily married people grew to understand how important it was to compromise in love. Sam certainly did. He’d been married for 12 years, and in about 20 minutes of conversation, he made it clear to me that while having the freedom to do whatever he wants can be exciting, his life is ALL about the kids. I thought this was beautiful. Sam is about devotion to one woman and selflessness and building something bigger than himself. (Yes, men like this DO exist.)

If you’ve been looking for your whole life for your prince, it may be time to let go of the image and find a real, live, human being who loves you unconditionally.

So when I compare Brian and Sam, I don’t see one person as better than the other. Brian is a wealthy single guy who raises money for cancer. Sam loves his wife, supports his family and gives every ounce of effort to his children. Neither is superior, but I can tell you, 100%, that I’d rather be like Sam. What about you? Would you rather be the world-beater who has all the luxuries on earth, but looks down on everyone who made compromises? Or would you rather be the woman who makes certain compromises and finds love? The choice is yours. Brian has told himself he needs to be with a liberal Ivy League supermodel to be happy. I used to feel the same way. I learned to compromise. I’m MUCH happier than I was before. You can be too, if you’re open to it: Which brings me to my final story from the reunion, courtesy of a surprising source. Darlene and I were barely even friends in high school — it was more of a first name recognition. But we knew people in common, she knew what I did for a living, and we had a really engaging conversation about the nature of love. And then she said something to me that I’d never heard before. “You have to kiss a lot of princes before you marry the frog.” I was so confused that I asked her to repeat herself. She did, and then some: “You have to kiss a lot of princes before you marry the frog. What I mean is that it’s easy to find a cute guy with money – especially in South Florida. These are the men who SEEM like they’d be princes. My first husband was a prince, and you can see how that worked out. So now that I’m on JDate at age 38, I finally figured out what I was looking for — the guy who treats me the best. The guy who, in the past, I would have thought of as the frog is REALLY the prince.” I think Darlene’s line is instantly quotable and kind of genius. If you’ve been looking for your whole life for your prince — the equivalent of Brian’s liberal, Ivy League supermodel — it’s not that you’re “wrong” for being attracted to that person…But if you’ve been looking in vain for that person for your whole life, it may be time to let go of the image and find a real, live, human being who loves you unconditionally, instead of holding out for the super-impressive man who doesn’t. I honestly thought my 20th high school reunion would be validating for the same reasons that Brian did — because I kept my hair, because I make a good living, because I left home to forge my own path. But the real affirmation I got from the event was that, in marrying my wife, I was positive I was choosing the right path for me. Marriage. Kids. Love. Compromise. I look forward to making sure that your compromise, like mine, FEELS GOOD. Your prince may not look exactly like a prince, but I guarantee he won’t look like a frog either. 🙂

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  1. 1
    my honest answer

    Reunions are the worst, because everyone is just trying to justify their choices the only way they know how – by disparaging other’s choices. Instead, we should all just be reminded that we chose what was right for US.

  2. 2

    Wonderful post Evan! Your comments about Brian reminded me of a song I heard when I was in high school by Charlene, called “I’ve Never Been To Me.” The lyrics were about a woman’s version of Brian, who saw the world with a glamorous life, but never fell in love and had a family with that one man. I didn’t understand what that song meant, but something about the melody and the images spoke to me, almost like a foreshadow of what was to come in my life.
    I sort of feel that way myself now. I wasn’t able to find the right guy, so I focused on my career, and I traveled. They were wonderful and fun times. But I still feel that emptiness. 🙁 Hopefully it is not too late for me.
    Here are the lyrics to that song:
    Hey lady, you lady, cursing at your life
    You’re a discontented mother and a regimented wife
    I’ve no doubt you dream about the things you’ll never do
    But, I wish someone had talked to me
    Like I wanna talk to you…..

    Oh, I’ve been to Georgia and California and anywhere I could run
    I took the hand of a preacher man and we made love in the sun
    But I ran out of places and friendly faces because I had to be free
    I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me

    Please lady, please lady, don’t just walk away
    ‘Cause I have this need to tell you why I’m all alone today
    I can see so much of me still living in your eyes
    Won’t you share a part of a weary heart that has lived million lies….

    Oh, I’ve been to Niece and the Isle of Greece while I’ve sipped champagne on a yacht
    I’ve moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed ’em what I’ve got
    I’ve been undressed by kings and I’ve seen some things that a woman ain’t supposed to see
    I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

  3. 3

    Great article!   Love how the comparisons make you think about what’s real and   VALUABLE   in life..  
    I always fast forward to old age, and ask myself what would I have been most proud of?
    Yes, I too thought I had my prince, and he didn’t turn out to be after all… it looked good on the outside for awhile..
    Looking forward to focusing on real qualities and characteristics for a strong relationship

  4. 4

    Another great post 🙂 I just love this blog.  
    I think you get guys like Brian everywhere… I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but i think that in his ‘looking down’ on the others, who were settled down, and his bragging about how cool his life is, he was actually just trying to mask an ounce of envy.
    And while Brian was looking down on all the married suburbanites who couldn’t hop on a flight to Morocco, (…) –   You see, while the others indeed lack the flexibility which Brian has (because of his lack of commitment), Brian lacks the love and security the others have. Eventually, these guys too could hop on a flight to Morocco… But they have to plan it a few weeks in advance, that’s all 🙂 Brian, on the other hand, can’t find THE ONE and have gorgeous kids even if he ‘planned ahead’.

  5. 5

    Great post, Evan…as usual 😉

  6. 6

    Evan, I don’t know. I am very happy that YOU are happy, because it sounds as though you have a wonderful wife and daughter. And I made the same choices you did. But I honestly don’t think that everyone is cut out to be family people as we are. Some people really are not meant to have children. There is nothing wrong with that. Many times I have questioned myself whether I was meant to have children. And I’m not the only parent who feels that way on occasion.
    In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if an adult doesn’t feel the compulsion to have children, he or she shouldn’t. Parenting is not for everyone, and it can hurt children to have parents who don’t want them. Maybe one could go even further and say that not everyone is meant to be in a long-term relationship. I think we work from the assumption that this is what everyone wants and should have, but maybe for some people, that isn’t the case. And it doesn’t mean that they’re unhappy or pathetic – although society certainly does have a way of making them feel looked down upon. This is unfair.
    Perhaps Brian really is happy with his single, childfree life; but felt the need to justify it at the reunion because he didn’t want to feel judged by others who would label him a loser for not being married. Sometimes it feels hard to pursue one’s own dreams and aspirations without caving in to the expectations of society – that by a certain age, you should have X and be doing Y. No one is wrong in this scenario you describe, as long as they are genuinely happy.

  7. 7
    Evan Marc Katz

    And that’s the point, Helen: I didn’t get the sense that Brian was deeply happy, no more than my smart, strong, successful women clients who have everything are “happy”. Most people long for connection. And even though there isn’t much of a stigma anymore to being single (as HALF of the US is single), people still very much choose love.

  8. 8

    Just because Brian isn’t yet married with 2 kids, doesn’t mean that it’s too late for him. He could easily be married in the next couple of years. I’m not sure if Brian said he wanted an Ivy League supermodel or that’s what EMK inferred by his single status. Maybe he is better off having never been married at this point in his life than being divorced, as many of my classmates at my 30th reunion were.

    Helen is correct, not all of us want children. I haven’t wanted them, but it did feel strange to be at my 30th reunion with so many people talking about their kids. High school reunions are a breeding ground for that sort of questioning, comparing, and self-doubt. People aren’t necessarily happier when they make conventional choices, but there is some comfort in knowing that you’re following a well-tread path.

  9. 9

    @ Ruby #8:
    “Maybe he is better off having never been married at this point in his life than being divorced, as many of my classmates at my 30th reunion were.”
    Similar experience here. Last HS reunion I went to, we were 19-20, everyone talked about their recent or upcoming weddings. and those of us that weren’t married yet were reprimanded by our teacher for “falling behind” (true story). Sure enough, everyone who was married then, got divorced since. (Then again, so did I, so who am I to judge.)
    “People aren’t necessarily happier when they make conventional choices, but there is some comfort in knowing that you’re following a well-tread path.”
    Not to mention there’s safety in numbers. If everyone at the reunion is talking about changing diapers, then you’ll feel like a part of the “in” crowd if you, too, talk about changing diapers.
    Then again, Brian brought it upon himself by saying “how sad it was that none of our peers had grown”. That’s quite an assumption! Why not assume instead that everyone has grown in their own way, whether they have a family and kids or not?

  10. 10

    I don’t get it. Aren’t you saying the same thing about him that he’s saying about the other people? Maybe you’re both still the same as you were, even though you both think   you’ve changed.

  11. 11

    I think the grass is always greener on the other side and I think as single, child-free people, we always feel like we’re justifying our choices.   Married people with kids can be quite smug and they often look down on the “selfish” who choose travel, work, sports, hobbies, charities, etc. over children.   I think you should reconsider Brian’s actions and consider that he was simply being defensive, and for good reason.

      know a lot of people married with kids who, once you know them very well, would tell you they wish they’d waited for kids, they wish they had the time and money to travel . . . etc. and they envy the lives of the single and child-free.   I don’t think they would give up their kids for the world, but it does make me believe the smugness is a put-on, much like you think Brian’s showing off was.  

    As for me, I’ve been on both sides of the table as I was a step-parent for over five years to three children.   Their mother was out of the picture about 85% so I was full-time.   We devoted our lives to them.   We had no relationship.   I had no time for me.   I was fat, miserable, lonely and basically felt my life had been put on-hold for all that time.   I left that relationship only six months ago and I’ve already travelled to two different countries, lost over 20 lbs., am training for my first marathon,  found a new job with a huge raise in  pay,  and am happier and healthier than I’ve been in five years.   So, no, I don’t think kids and marriage is always the way to go.

    Lastly, what if you’re on a date with someone who is really nice and not bad looking, not perfect, but there’s nothing wrong with him, but the thought of kissing him or even holding hands with him repulses you because there’s just no attraction or chemistry?   Are you suggesting we keep trying with him?  

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @JM “What if the thought of kissing him or even holding hands with him repulses you because there’s just no attraction or chemistry? Are you suggesting we keep trying with him?”

      No. Not remotely. I’m not sure why people have such a hard time understanding the concept of compromise. You do it every day. You do it in your job. You do it with your home. You do it with yourself.

      That doesn’t mean that your job SUCKS and your apartment is a HOVEL and you’re fat and SLOVENLY; it means you accept imperfection. Do the same with the man you’re dating (and know he’s doing the same for you) and you stand a much greater chance of finding love than if you hold out for some magical feeling based on attraction and chemistry alone. Real life validates my approach, I assure you.

  12. 12


    I was on the same thought track as JM when you speak about compromise. Can you give some examples of compromise you speak of?  In dating I  understand the idea that your  future husband may not be 6’2″ with blond hair and blue eyes and you should compromise on that  but I get the  vibe from your posts that you are saying to compromise “the feeling” just to have a person in your life!  In a recent experience, I dated someone for 8 month who, from the beginning, made me feel uneasy, I never really wanted to be intimate with him and we never had that much to talk about because I thought I was  “compromising” and accepting someone  for who they were. I got out of the relationship and am happy I did but I guess I  don’t truely grasp what you are telling us to compromise on?

    Any insight would be amazing.          

    1. 12.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @CMN – You’re going back to that black and white world again. As if it’s either “the feeling” or “he makes me feel uneasy, I never want to be intimate with him, we never had much to talk about.”

      There’s a HUGE middle ground between those two things.

      If “the feeling” is a “10” chemistry and the “thought of kissing him makes me want to gag” is a “2” chemistry, how about you find a nice “7” chemistry (with a “10” compatibility based on kindness, values, commitment and consistency)? That’s the foundation for an amazing life.

      This is what I did, this is what I encourage you to do, and if you haven’t found it yet, you haven’t been looking long enough, hard enough, or investing your energy in the right guys.

  13. 13

    I totally get this.   We do compromise everyday in something. I’m currently online with a man who is probably not my type but I’m not going to discard this person because he doesn’t seem to LOOK like my kind of guy.    A man that I’m not with anymore is like Brian, but worse in that he doesn’t travel, he doesn’t have a good job, and he doesn’t date supermodels, but he wants to and thinks that the image is more important than the real person that would love him unconditionally, which would be me…. However, he has chosen his path, without me in it, by the way he treated me and our relationship, and I’m finally beginning to believe that it’s HIS loss.

  14. 14

    My question is more “What aspects of a man and a relationship should I compromise on?”

    1. 14.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Believe it or not, this isn’t the right forum for your question since the comments are supposed to be about the original post, but I’ll briefly answer:

      What you can’t compromise on: values, kindness, consistency, effort, desire for marriage and/or kids.

      What you can compromise on: everything else.

      Those who refuse to compromise on everything else leave themselves a very shallow pool of applicants. I compromised on age, religion, geography, intellectual curiosity. But not in such a way that causes me great discomfort. My wife is 3 years older than I am. I’m a Jewish athiest, she’s a Catholic believer who never goes to church. She lived in North Hollywood (ugh) when we first met. She’s not a big reader for pleasure or into personal growth. That’s fine. I am and I don’t need her to think just like I do. The reason I’m with her is that she’s the BEST PERSON I KNOW. She’s cool, patient, supportive, down to earth, funny, social, open to anything, and family oriented.

      I didn’t invent this stuff, you know, but I feel like I cracked the code and want to share it with everyone. You can be very happy once you give up the narcissism that your partner has to be either just like you or “better” than you.

  15. 15

    Thanks for clarifying. Sorry for straying from the original topic. You give wonderful advice.

  16. 16

    “What you can’t compromise on: values, kindness, consistency, effort, desire for marriage and/or kids.

    What you can compromise on: everything else.”

    Very well said, Evan! I’m still trying to find my frog though! 🙂

  17. 17

    There’s a recent phenomena I’ve been seeing on, which is relatively new — I don’t remember it 8 years ago or in ’96 when I originally signed on to match – is what I’ll call the “George Clooney Ideal” — women basically describing a George Clooney type down to the type a blazer he would wear — “you must command a room when you walk into it” “have clothes that would not be out of place in Esquire” “over 6 feet” with all his hair (of course), make 6 figures (of course)…quite frankly, I don’t see a lot of guys like this in real life and I can’t imagine there’s many signing up for match at $25/month…. Look, I’m not looking for Angelina Jolie (“she lights up a room when she walks in, turning heads”)…I just want someone pretty enough I’m attracted to them, nice / interesting enough and warm enough….

    1. 17.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      No, David. That’s YOUR insecurity speaking. There’s nothing wrong with describing your ideal partner online. Everyone realizes that these are not literal checklists, except, apparently, you. I wouldn’t be bothered by these women or intimidated by these women. I would write a kick-ass profile that’s funny and unique, compose a short, confident, witty first email specifically tailor to each woman, and watch as these women give you a chance, despite the fact that you’re not George Clooney.

  18. 18

    I think it’s extremely important not to do things just because you want to “fit in.” It concerns me how many people choose to get married and have children because they think that’s “the American dream” or because “everyone else is doing it.” Do we need to make compromises when it comes to sustaining long term, committed relationships? No doubt. But what’s the motivation behind those compromises? That’s what I’m often asking myself and others. If you realize the person you’re with is an excellent partner worth making some changes in your life for, then go for it. Make those changes. Don’t be rigid. But if you’re compromising because you’re afraid of being alone, or standing out at your high school reunion, or whatever – for god’s sake, don’t go there. Especially if you haven’t brought children into the world yet. Too many kids are suffering right now, as I type this, because their parents wanted to fill a void in themselves and didn’t think about what that might mean 5 or 10 years down the road.

  19. 19
    Still Looking

    EMK – Every time you speak of your wife you do so with such adoration.   She is truly fortunate to have found a frog like you!

  20. 20

    ah much better — that’s the kind and measured EMK I look forward to reading… The “apparently” part is / was an unnecessary dig at a loyal fan and reader working on himself…

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