Mr. Chauvinist. Mr. Cheapskate. Mr. Paranoid. Mr. Habitually Late. Mr. Whiner. The parallel universe of "Little Men" of the 21st century are alive and well and living in Los Angeles -- and my friends have, unfortunately, dated them all.
The friends I refer to (I'll call them, "The Crew") are all funny, attractive, nice, well-rounded, educated -- who've stayed with Mr. Wrong far longer than they should have.
During a recent car trip, my sweet, insightful boyfriend of five months commented that it wasn't fair that a girl he knows -- cynical, sarcastic, not very personable -- has a boyfriend, while the girls in The Crew don't.
"Yeah, but look what's she's got," I told him, referring to a guy so nebbishy that he makes Woody Allen look hip and so socially inept that even the guys from "Queer Eye" would throw up their hands. "Who wants that?"
Before I found my incredible guy, I was engaged to someone whom I went out with for two and half years -- probably two years too long. Of course, after we broke up, everyone I knew said that he was just "OK" and that I deserved someone better.
My friends asked me why I stayed with him as long as I did when I knew I shouldn't have. I told them that in this crazy, mixed-up world, perfectly smart girls stay in relationships they know they shouldn't because it is easier to be a couple than solo -- and to have to endure the dreaded dating game.
During silent prayer at Shabbat services, after I've prayed for the well-being of my family, I pray that all of my friends find love and happiness (if you ask that for yourself it is considered selfish for some reason, but I think it works if you delegate the good thoughts to a friend). And boy, could my friends use all the prayers they can get.
One of my L.A. Crew members went out on several dates with a guy -- and things were looking good: He called her every day to see how she was and took her out on several fun dates during the week and on the weekend. Seemed like a prince until he turned into Mr. Paranoid and accused her of lying to him about everything and dating guys who had been her friends for years (which she didn't do).
He then morphed into Mr. Stalker, calling her multiple times after she informed him that it wasn't going to work. But before she pulled the plug, she asked me if she was doing the right thing.
This incredibly smart girl was second-guessing her gut reaction because of a larger nagging fear about being a single in a land of couples.
Another L.A. Crew member met Mr. Omission on JDate -- he lied about being a smoker, then covered up by saying he was only an occasional smoker. She was so wrapped up in the idea that she needed a guy that she was willing to settle for this walking ashtray -- until she met the guy she's with now (we'll call him Mr. Thank God, because he's so much better than what she had).
My best friend dated a guy who was incredibly sweet, but she felt no chemistry. She told me that when they were alone he was fine -- but she felt no sparks; when they went out with friends, he barely said anything. She broke up with him after several months of rationalizing.
This isn't just a problem for the girls, either. How many guys out there have dated Ms. Clingy, Ms. Critical, Ms. Stalker, Ms. Shopaholic or Ms. Whiner -- and stayed with them far too long? (I think my boyfriend's exes fall under four of those categories, from what he's told me.)
Think about it: The networks spend millions of dollars on new shows every year, but are perfectly OK with canceling something that isn't pulling the ratings. If they don't feel bad about canceling "Emily's Reasons Why Not," surely we shouldn't feel bad about the time and money we lost on a bad relationship, when in the long run a better show will come along.
The key is knowing when to say adios -- and sometimes it takes a nasty wake-up call.
Think Chris Parker in "Adventures in Babysitting," who discovers her boyfriend at a romantic restaurant with the school slut -- on their anniversary. Or Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City," who let Mr. Big toy with her heart for years, much to the chagrin of her friends. Luckily, after several years, their relationship ended up working out -- maybe because Aleksandr Petrovsky was so much worse.
I'm not a matchmaker, but the Dolly Levi in me thinks everyone should have someone -- just make sure you aren't settling for Mr. OK when you deserve Mr. Wonderful.