Recently a rather naive friend was telling me about the new girl he was dating. They’d been out a few times, but he hadn’t heard from her since the last date, when he went over to her place and then had to lie down because he felt sick.
Now, wait just a minute. What? No, no, no! I took him to task. I won’t agree to the oft-voiced claim that women flat-out don’t want nice guys. But I will admit to drunkenly advising this friend that he has to be a little bit more like an asshole if he doesn’t want to come across as a pansy.
My advice, which could have been phrased better, was not received well by my also-drunk friend. But he didn’t hear from that woman again. That would have been a dealbreaker for me, too. If your tummy hurts, you reschedule the date. Maybe I should have framed my point this way: His fragility was the male equivalent of, say, if his date had let rip a few giant belches and then unleashed some nasty farts on top of that. Everybody gets sick, and everybody rips heaters, and men and women eventually do this in front of each other, but these do not make for desirable displays in the early stages of the mating game.
I wasn’t always so discriminating on this point of manliness. I used to be the girl who loved the guys who looked like girls. One time in freshman year of high school, when I was in art class drawing a portrait of my beloved Sebastian Bach from Skid Row, the substitute teacher came by and remarked on what an intense-looking lady I was drawing. I parlayed this affinity for skinny long-haired rockers into a rather storied career of dating musicians, some of whom I could trade pants with, if they didn’t wear a smaller size than me.
But as I got further into my 20s, my tastes slowly began to change.
(I think this attraction function is the closest to a biological clock I’ve ever gotten.)
Guys raised on a little too much “Free to Be You and Me” and not enough “Starsky and Hutch” were not cutting it for me. Unfortunately, in Brooklyn, where I live, it was a lot easier to bump into a slender yoga-practicing vegetarian guy than to find someone more rugged. (Mind you, I was a yoga-practicing vegetarian; I just didn’t want my man to be that way.) I even heard rumors of fancy gents who didn’t like the outdoors or getting dirty. Yuck.
As I began to take notice of this preference, I tried working a few key phrases into my online dating profile: I was looking for someone who could build and fix things. Someone who goes camping. I decided my kind of guy probably had a big dog and might drive a pickup truck. And, of course, he should still be into culture, not like an outright lumberjack. I also put this description out to all my friends. Then I waited for the masculine candidates to come rolling in. They did not. I was, after all, in New York City, and not, say, Portland, Oregon.
Finally, when I wasn’t actively looking anymore, I had posted as my primary MySpace photo a snapshot of me crazily wielding an air rifle outside, in a vintage dress, with a collection of bb-riddled PBR cans behind me. In short, I looked like someone who would get along smashingly with the rugged fellow described above. It attracted the attention of a man who lived one neighborhood away, fitting exactly my physical and characteristic description, down to the dog and the pickup truck, and now we’re engaged and living in the South. (So be careful what you wish for!)
He’s not Cro-Magnon—we can discuss any “Sex and the City” or “90210″ episode, and he will eat tofu and tempeh—but he has enough of the desired man-stuff.
That brings us to one of my only pieces of advice for finding love: Try to describe what type of person you think would really do it for you, as specifically as you can—even what they might wear or own or do. (If stuck, work backwards from your personal dealbreakers.) Tell your friends, tell the internet, tell the universe, and eventually maybe one of those resources will help you find your dealmaker.