Did you read Part I? It’s pretty good. Click here and do that first.
Just before my most recent purge of dating apps, a man began peppering me with questions online. It felt like a job interview. His final question: “What do you consider as unforgivable in a relationship?” I thought seriously about this, not for him but for me. I’ve become picky. Why not? I want what I want. I answered:
“Dishonesty. Cheating. Narcissism. Lack of compassion for others. Misogyny. Racism. Homophobia. Anger management issues. Addiction. Inability to love my children. Inability to love my dog. Untreated mental illness. I think that’s it.”
He deleted me. To clarify, I don’t necessarily see all of that as unforgivable. It’s more accurate to call them deal-breakers, I guess.
Do I have an ideal man? Yeah, sure. His name is Jesse. He could also be named something else but let me call him Jesse.
He will be at least six feet tall and pretty fit and muscular. He doesn’t have to be ridiculously ripped, but being ripped is not a bad thing. He should at least be stronger than me. I think that’s fair. Just FYI, I’m a sucker for great biceps. I like darker skin, if that works out. Tattoos are cool.
He should either be bald or have lots of hair. Absolutely no combovers. Combovers represent a failure to accept life as it is. Long hair is fine as long as it doesn’t take up too much time.
I’ve been liking a good beard and mustache lately. Those hipster beards give me some butterflies. But I’m not sure of their practicality, and again, the maintenance. Do they need to be combed? Does food get stuck there? Is it soft when we kiss, or more like a pot scrubber? Jesse can have a beard as long as it’s not gross or itchy, how’s that. Itchy to me, I mean.
Personality-wise, he should be thoughtful and funny. He needs to make me laugh. I’m pretty funny, but sometimes it’s hard to be in charge of the fun. He can be quiet but he must be able to communicate his feelings rather than dole out the silent treatment. At the same time, he can’t be too communicative about his feelings. I’m not a fucking therapist. I’ve spent a lifetime battling sadness and depression, and I’m done with that. Actually, I’ve had enough mental health treatment to be a pretty good stand-in therapist, but I’ll be honest, I just don’t have time for that. I use my experience to therapize myself, which is exhausting enough.
I’d like him to be a little bit organized. It doesn’t have to be obsessive, but if he leaves dirty clothes on the floor around my house I will lose my mind. Which reminds me, if he likes to clean, that’s awesome. He should at least be able to clean up after himself, and after me if I don’t feel like it.
I need a smart man. I’m smart, and I need someone else who is smart and clever and can exchange banter with me. He must be a reader; he must occasionally be able to gain perspective from someone else’s words. Maybe it’s the New York Times, maybe books, maybe Outside magazine or even Western Horseman because cowboys. Or Surfer. Or Rolling Stone. Anything with words.
No sports addicts. An interest in the Olympics is fine. Having a couple of favorite teams is tolerable. A 24/7 obsession with who’s getting drafted or two-hour conversations about that one terrible call at the 1998 Super Bowl are a no-go.
I don’t care what he does for work with a few exceptions. He cannot work for the Republican Party in any way, and he can’t be employed by polluters, unless he was hired to help them clean up their shit. No developers who clearcut mature trees. I’d kill him in his sleep.
He doesn’t have to make or have a lot of money, but he must be financially independent. My mother says all the men her age want a nurse or a purse, and I’m only 22 years younger than she is.
Jesse doesn’t have to be able to cook, but he should be able to feed himself. He should never ever text me, “What’s for dinner?” Texting me something like, “What should we do for dinner?’ is tolerable, but not as preferable as, “I picked up some fresh fish for dinner and can’t wait to throw it on the grill with my special blend of seasonings!” If I received that text, I wouldn’t mind picking up the vegetables.
Recently, I was discussing Jesse with a friend, and as I listened to myself, I thought I sounded shallow. It bothered me. For several days, I thought about whether I’m shallow.
What dawned on me, finally, is that Jesse is not my ideal man. He’s my fantasy man. And it’s okay to be shallow in our fantasies, right?
I do have an ideal man, and he’s a lot less tapered to my specifications. He’s completely independent, both financially and emotionally. He’s funny and kind and happy, and likes simple pleasures like chopped salads and oat milk lattes and seeing an osprey with a fish in its mouth. He is fit enough to keep up with me when we go hiking. We exchange limitless snarky clever texts making fun of conspiracy theorists and Mitch McConnell. He loves dogs and my kids.
I could love that kind of man. Regrettably, though, I’m still not sure I could live with him.