June 3, 2004
Looking for Ms. Wrong
A good friend of mine got married a couple of months ago to the wrong guy. The thing is, I think they're going to last a long time.
My friend, "Karen," is a top administrative officer for a government agency. She hired this lawyer, Joe, to do some outside legal work for the agency. He was living with someone at the time, and he wasn't her "type" anyway. No problem: no chemistry, no conflict.
Karen and Joe worked together peacefully for more than four years. They got to be good friends on strictly a professional level. All was fine.
That is, until last October, when Joe suddenly realized he had fallen in love with Karen and told her about it. He told her she could take her time figuring it out for herself, but he was determined that they were going to end up spending the rest of their lives together. All this even though he still had a live-in. Karen's reaction: She thought he had gone a little wacky and recommended counseling! But she reluctantly agreed to an "official date."
Two weeks later, they were engaged; three-and-a-half months later, married. And they adore each other.
Same with my lifelong friend, Harry. He was a physical education teacher (Jewish -- go figure!), 6-foot-3, about 210 pounds., strong as an ox -- dated mostly the non-Jewish waitresses he met at the Charthouse, where he worked for waiter's tips to earn enough to make ends meet. When he met Rachel, she was a pediatric physical therapist from a whole family of doctors -- dated mostly short, unathletic, brainy Jewish doctors, lawyers and accountants. Harry was definitely not her type.
Harry's idea of dress-up was a "nice" pair of gym shorts and a T-shirt without any holes in it. His dress shoes were his newest pair of sneakers. His idea of a great date was when she agreed to go "Dutch" down at Joe Jost's, a popular, working-class dive in mid-Long Beach. Rachel was used to guys in designer suits who wouldn't even think of not picking up the tab at the latest trendy Sushi bar.
Result of this "wrong" pairing: Click! Game, set and match. They're about to celebrate their 17th anniversary; they have two great kids; and they're still on their honeymoon.
Ever notice when you see some couples that they really "fit" -- they really do seem to belong together? When I talk to them, I often find out that their partner was definitely not the person they thought they were looking for.
"In fact," she'll say, "he has some habits that in other guys I just couldn't stand. But in him, I not only put up with them, but find it kind of cute!"
The way I figure it, in this game, you never really know what you're looking for until you find it. And when you do, all those "wrong" things just suddenly become OK -- even right.
So lately, I've been asking some hard questions about my own "requirements." Jewish? Yeah, I guess that's not negotiable. Oh, I've tried the "other side" a few times. It's just that, when it comes right down to it, the possibility of having one of our future kids wearing a cross and believing Jesus was the messiah really isn't acceptable.
OK, but what else? I've always been attracted to women who are clever, with a keen wit and sharp sense of humor. A bright, mischievous twinkle in the eye is a plus.
The rest of it? I took a lot of time working out my "perfect match" for my JDate profile. Now I'm realizing that I've just seen it too many times -- regardless of what I "know" about my type, it's probably going to happen that some vague biological reaction will mysteriously and unexpectedly assert itself when I meet the "wrong" person. Then all those things on my "must" list just won't matter any more.
So now, taking a cue from the popular challenge to "think outside the box," I'm doing my best to "look for love outside the box."
What I still need from someone out there is to meet me halfway. While I'm trying to keep my eyes and my heart a lot more open to the possibilities, what are you looking for? What do you see when you look at me?
Deleted my JDate e-mails because I'm "too old"? Tell that to Catherine Zeta-Jones or Annette Bening! And are you telling me you'd take a pass on Sean Connery today, even at his age? (Same goes for receding hairline excuses.)
Rejected a setup by the matchmaking service because I'm "too short"? Hey, I thought you said "size" doesn't matter! And how often have you expressed disdain for guys who focus a little too much attention on the size of a woman's chest?
Looked past me at Friday Night Live because it seems like I'm "too serious?" You know, "serious" doesn't have to mean "boring." There's nothing like a little serious fun to keep a relationship interesting and alive. Ever hear the expression, "Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac"? Try it, you might like it!
Now when they say to me, "There must be some reason a nice guy like you isn't married," I tell them, "It's not that I'm waiting for that 'perfect person' who doesn't exist. It's just that I'm waiting for the right 'wrong' one to come along -- the one whose 'toos' aren't 'too' for me."
Look, I know you're out there somewhere. The problem is, although I've figured it out, I have to hope you'll stop searching for Mr. Right. Because what you're really looking for is me: Mr. Wrong ... who's really been the right one for you all along.
Glenn M. Gottlieb is a professional mediator and corporate attorney practicing in Los Angeles. He is actively looking for Ms. Wrong and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.