Last week I had dinner with my friend who, while she is not a therapist, always shares good insights with me. She was divorced a long time before she found her current very happy relationship. I asked her what she thought was the secret to finding someone in midlife and her reply was “I think the answer is that you need to stop looking for someone that your mother would brag about at the manicurist”. I stopped a moment and took that in. What would that mean in my case?
I grew up in a home and a community where intelligence and prestige was something that was a requirement for entry. My father went to Harvard Law School and there was Harvard Memorabilia everywhere. If Freud was right and I was trying to “marry my father”, then it would narrow the playing field for sure. It eliminated many men who could be right for me because I was looking at one skill, academic intelligence, as a weed out factor. I chose my relationships with a part of me aware of what the world would think of these guys and pedigree was most definitely high on that list.
How is this relevant to my current situation? Well, to start with, in order to sign up for a dating site, you need to check boxes to determine who they should send to you. The boxes include the obvious…education, race religion, income etc. When I think about who I am drawn to or who I am willing to talk to, it is obvious that my old habits are surfacing again. Hmmmm….what might I be missing?
It also shows up on the date. How often will I be sitting on a date and as someone is telling their story, I am saying to myself “Good, good, not so good, nope, ok, he’s out!” ? Instead of sitting back and enjoying the experience, I am keeping a tally. I am not that great a multitasker, so I am guessing that while I am making my pro and con list, I am not fully invested in the moment.
And while I am thinking about it, would I actually date myself based on this criteria? The reality is that while I went to a perfectly respectable college and graduate school, what I value most about myself is not my academic prowess. In fact, if I were making my own pro and con list, I am not sure it would appear at all. But what I will say here is that I AM smart enough to understand that if something is not working well, then it is time to change it. And this way of limiting thinking is not working.
My thoughts then returned to my friend that I was having dinner with How did she actually end up with someone that her mother could brag about at the manicurist? For her the “resume” stuff was just a bonus. What she was drawn to was intelligence kindness AND connection. As far as I know, they don’t have that as a course you can register for at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s because love comes from the heart, not from a book.