Great Expectations

Some say a woman in her forties who is single is likely to have issues. Most of those people are men who aren't very bright. And not like a light bulb bright. There could be a billion reasons why a woman, or anyone, in their forties has never been married. Society's measure on what age marriage should take place is a farce. However, I respect that real things like the biological clock has to be considered. Unless the woman doesn't want children. Then hit me up. Joking. Hit me up. For real.

Last weekend I met a woman in her forties. We were talking about our lives, what we wanted, what we didn't. Then she asked an unanswerable question, "What do guys want in a woman?"

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I laughed. Partly because I'm one guy out of three and a half billion. But I gave her the obvious answer. "T and A."

"What's that?" She wasn't from this country, so she didn't know what that was.

"Tits and ass."

She smiled, but I could tell when looking at her eyes she wasn't satisfied with that answer or wanted a deeper answer. "Don't you think that a relationship can last longer and be happier if it's open? Or polyamorous?"

This was an interesting turn of questions because she went from asking what men want to what contributes to a happy relationship. In talking to her some more, I found out that she had broken off a 17-year relationship where she saw her boyfriend about four times a year. It was a long distant relationship.

Scratching my head, I said, "I think some people are hardwired to be open. And some people are hardwired to be monogamous. Being in an open relationship doesn't guarantee anything." And neither does being monogamous.

She thought for a moment. "What do you think makes a relationship long lasting?"

My answer was short and concise. The explanation of it would be difficult. Understanding it proved harder for her.

"Having no expectations," I answered.

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I used Valentine's Day as an example of expectations. Traditionally on this day women expect to be given gifts, taken out to expensive dinners, all to celebrate their love and relationship. We know this happens because data backs this up. Try getting a last minute dinner reservation on February 14th. Outside of fast food chains that doesn't take reservations, you'll likely have to chance it by waiting in a long line of sorrow, and/or receive a whippin' from your lady the next day. And don't even think about just giving flowers and chocolates. That's so passé.

Side note: a group of us were talking about wedding rings. One of us recommended a white sapphire, which sounded classy. I guess diamonds are passé. Someone chimed in and warned us men not to get something small. Size does matter. Does the size of the rock represents how much a man loves his woman? If so, good luck with your marriage.

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Going back to Valentine's Day. Sometimes our expectations aren't met, bearing disappointment. Maybe she didn’t get the gift she was expecting. Maybe he didn’t get that sexual favor he was hoping for. So that resentment can root into the relationship, grow uncontrollably, and all of the sudden explode into an argument about who does the dishes. Of course the issue with their relationship was never about the dishes. It was about the resentment of failed expectations.

The woman I was talking to nodded. She tapped her lip trying to digest what I had just said. "But when I date someone, I'm seeing if we have a future with him. If I'm in a relationship, I want him to be my husband. I want to have a map of where we're going."

This is where I think I failed. To paraphrase my response: There's nothing wrong with having a map. But as you're traveling through life, you don't know what you'll see. Even if you want a life together, you still have to focus on what's happening in the moment.

What I should have said was, "To build a building, you do it one brick at a time. To build a life together, you do it one moment at a time."

Since I couldn't answer what men want in women succinctly, I turned the question to her. "What do you want in a man?"

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Instantly she said, "I want a man who is loyal, honest and faithful. I want him to be my lover, to support my passions and to be my best friend." Basically, everything. I write this not to disparage her or anyone, man or woman, who wants this. But to expect everything from a single human being is romanticism (I'm substituting romanticism for the word crazy, but I don't want to offend anyone). I mean, not even the iPhone can provide everything.

Relationship and intimacy expert, Esther Perel, said that a village used to provide all the things that we now expect in a lover. So she advised that we get what we need from others. Expand your support system beyond your spouse or lover. Look to friends for conversation. Spend time with family to get grounded. Go to lectures or seminars to expand your mind. Then go back to your lover to expand your loins.

Part Two: Low Expectations...