Thirty minutes into my first dinner date with Jeff, he leaned across the table and said, “you should know I’m eager to get married. And I want children, probably no more than two. A boy, hopefully, and I’d like him to have my name. How many kids do you want?”
Thus far, Jeff and I had talked about the weather, our jobs and how tasty the Lobster Thermidor looked on the restaurant menu. Now, suddenly, he was asking how committed I was to getting married and raising some kid named Jeff, Jr. My answer? I don’t know your last name. I have no idea whether we like the same music. If you went to the bathroom, I’m not sure I’d recognize you when you came back to the table. Why are we talking about this?
At the first Man Panel, I discovered premature talk from women about nuptials-and-nesting is the bane of every single man’s existence. Apparently, women who don’t talk about long-term domestic aspirations during the first few dates are a refreshing but rare exception to the norm.
I understand. We’re impatient. We’re getting older. Our mothers are commenting on our sagging butts and pressuring us for grandchildren. And it’s cold out here in Single Land.
But lots of singletons are rushing the process of intimacy, virtually ensuring their dates hit the eject button. One panelist groaned about a woman who had her ideal world structured down to the minutest detail – cohabitation in six months, first kid in a year, a dog named Bruno. Her and her prospective hubby’s combined salaries had to reach six figures. Their SUV had to be cherry red or teal. Their home could never contain wall-to-wall carpeting. All she needed was a handsome creature with a penis and paycheck to plop into the puzzle.
I suppose if all you want is to marry and procreate, utilizing this romantic litmus test makes sense, although who would even buy a pair of shoes before seeing how well they fit? Maybe you can commit to a puppy because it’s cute and fits some finite checklist of traits, but human beings have layers of character and complications that take months, more often years, to penetrate. Even shoes need to be broken in.
Some of the Man Panelists blamed this IPod world we live in, where we put other people on “shuffle,” giving them mere seconds to win and keep our attention. No longer do we luxuriate in the process of getting to know one another deeply. Instead, we drag-and-drop the essentials of our perfect partner into a shopping cart and expect them to arrive in a box from Amazon.com.
“What about what I want?” One panelist wondered aloud. “What about my time frame? What if we want the same things and I just need another six months to find out?”
Of course, if two individual life directions conflict, a relationship may not be in the cards. But doesn’t loving someone sometimes create new priorities and change life directions?
Ask me, relationships aren’t only worthwhile if they lead to marriage. Personally, I adore all those tinier, life-altering interactions I’ve had along the way, the ones that make me better for the men I link up with for the long haul.
During our date, Jeff grimaced when he found out I couldn’t ski, but gave me a point for loving sushi. Still, all I could think was, “dude, you already blew it.” Rather than being installed into some weird algorithm in a man’s head, I want to be mysterious to one another, welcoming the future as a blank slate full of possibilities.
At least until the check comes.