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Love - Find Your Comfort Zone

A dating expert shares the secret to creating a solid (satisfying!) relationship.

By Evan Marc Katz

recently did the math.

In the 13 years since I finished college, I’ve been in relationships for three of them.

That’s ten years of being single. Hundreds of dates. A lifetime of stories.

During that span, I’ve had every experience you could possibly have: one-night stands,
“Picky” doesn’t fly in your mid-30’s. Picky keeps us alone.
two-date infatuations, three-date disappearances, one-month girlfriends, three-month freak-outs, and six-month dead-end relationships.

If this doesn’t qualify me to be a dating coach, I don’t know what does.

But the one question that always gets asked of me — the one question that I can never dodge — is this: “Why are you still single?”

And while I can make all sorts of rationalizations about how the timing was wrong or the chemistry wasn’t right or that my favorite girlfriends dumped me, the most obvious excuse is the one that we all use to justify our perpetual singledom: I’m just very picky.

But here’s the problem: “Picky” doesn’t fly in your mid-30’s. Picky keeps us alone. Picky, I’m convinced, is the kiss of death. And yet nothing describes me better as a dater.

“Sorry, she’s not my type… ”
Which is why I’m as surprised as anybody that my girlfriend and I have recently celebrated six months together. She is, by all demographic standards, my complete opposite.

She’s Catholic. I’m Jewish.

She’s a Republican. I’m a Democrat.

She’s from San Diego. I’m from New York.

She’s divorced. I’m forever single.

Her dad is ex-military. Mine had to be dragged into the Army Reserves.

Yes, we’re a sitcom waiting to happen. And yet it’s the best relationship I’ve ever had. The revelation was that my dating paradigm was broken from the start. Like Seinfeld in the episode where he falls for his female doppelganger, Janeane Garofalo, I’ve spent my whole life searching for a female version of myself. What I conveniently ignored is that dating a guy like me is a royal pain in the butt. I’m opinionated, hypersensitive, and over-analytical. Which creates quite a quandary if my soul mate is “supposed to be” similar.

Getting stuck on your standards
So if East Coast, Ivy League liberals with lofty ambitions were my Dulcinea, I have been their Don Quixote. I created an image of perfection which I chased dauntlessly, but never saw why I was falling short. It was because the good qualities I sought in women often flipped over and turned into
By not trying to iron out my flaws, she allows me to be the best version of myself.
bad qualities.

Ambition becomes self-absorption.

Intelligence becomes smugness.

Opinionated becomes judgmental.

I see this all the time as a dating coach. Women want men who are successful, but get frustrated that these men spend all their time working. Men want women who are youthful, but get frustrated that these women don’t have as much to discuss over dinner.

Getting past the qualities you’ve “gotta have”
What I didn’t see was how this applied to me and the woman of my dreams.

Previous girlfriends would voice their valid concerns that I had a big mouth, an unstable career, and an insatiable appetite for flirtation, and I would get upset. Now I’ve got a girlfriend who shrugs at the same exact things. She may think them, but she never lets these flaws get in the way of our relationship. And that’s exactly what I needed.

By not trying to iron out my flaws, she allows me to be the best version of myself. Her easygoing ways and lack of judgment actually make me into a better boyfriend.

And while it may not sound earth-shattering, finding someone who allows me to be myself is far more important than someone who has the right career track, votes for the right party, or worships the right God. My whole life has been spent looking for someone to impress me; now I’ve realized I just want someone who accepts me.

But it’s not just her acceptance of me that I find so appealing. It’s her entire nature. She’s excited about everything—food, travel, sex, spontaneous plans. And she doesn’t make a big deal about things that other women I’ve dated have found so difficult…talking about past relationships. Waiting in line in the hot sun. Expressing mutual insecurities about our futures. She tells me she’s proud of my work successes. She let’s me know when I turn her on. And she’s as fun as any of my guy friends. But she’s the kind of person I spent the better part of the last decade avoiding, thinking, “Sorry, just not my type!”

Learning to get past your list
It’s easy for me to say “give someone a chance.” It’s a lot harder to actually do it. Especially if you’re busy. Or if you didn’t feel “butterflies.” Or if you have other dates lined up. But I’m telling you, from personal experience—if the person is solid, you might want to consider going on a second date. If only for the two reasons below:
  • A man’s ability to court says nothing about whether he’ll be a great husband, yet that often determines whether he gets a second date.
  • A woman’s ability to flirt says nothing about whether she’ll be a great wife, yet that often determines whether she gets a second date.
In finding my girlfriend and ignoring our differences, I realized that it’s not an “opposites attract” thing; it’s an “opposites don’t matter” thing. What really matters is that we have fun together and we never judge each other. Everything else is beside the point. And that’s been the greatest revelation.


Dating coach Evan Marc Katz is the founder of profile writing service E-Cyrano.com and the author of Why You’re Still Single: Things Your Friends Would Tell You If You Promised Not to Get Mad. Reach him directly at www.evanmarckatz.com.
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