father daughter pixabayLooking for love is a lot like fishing. Where you fish, what kind of bait you use, what you throw back and what you keep, all have relevance. Fish in a swamp, catch a swamp dweller – a python or alligator, for example, and emerge with leeches on your legs. Hang out at the local tavern, well you get the analogy. Fish in a clear-running stream, might land a nice trout, salmon or bass. Doesn’t ensure a good catch, but you get the picture. OK, guys are not fish, the analogy is pretty thin in that regard, so don’t take it to extremes.

Then there’s the bait. If you dress sexy, show cleavage, wear a short tight skirt, very high heels, makeup, perfume – well, that bait is going to get you a guy who’s looking for sex. And if you land him and expect to change him into a kind, loving fellow, well you might succeed, but law of averages – no. Together a year or so and the luster is off, he’s looking around again. After all you snagged him with sex, that’s what he wants, and changing him is a long shot. Lots of girls lose on that one because they read too many novels where the bad man with six-pack abs is changed to good, by the love of a woman. Novels written by single people working out their fantasies.

If you are looking for love that lasts, look for kindness, cheerfulness, a sense of humor, good conversation – you know, the guys you ignored in high school because, well, they were geeks, and not on the football team. And if they’re religious? Don’t count them out. Find out if they are just going through the motions, or if they have a real sense of something bigger, more profound about life than a humdrum life of work and weekend TV football. Do they try to help others? If so, that’s a good sign.

Now there’s a downside to cheerful talkative guys too, and here’s the test: Do they have a job, are they productive? Do they live with their mothers, do they have a car or are they always asking you for a ride? If they have a job, don’t live with their mothers, have a car or a bicycle they ride rain or shine and aren’t sponges, they’ve passed the first test.

The next one is – what is their universe like, and would you like to live in it? Are there religious differences and if so could you live with them or convert? Would your parents object and could you deal with that? Does this potential partner want an open marriage? Do they hate kids? Do they work seven days a week? Are they very liberal, very conservative or very wishy-washy politically?

Check out their apartment when they don’t expect company. Dishes in the sink, clothes thrown around, dog poop on the rug, the only dust-free object is the TV remote? Well if that’s your universe too, you might have a match. If not, move on. Or the guy plays Dungeons and Dragons all night long two nights a week, or travels cross-country to protest stuff. Or talks endlessly about quantum mechanics and how folding the universe is a quick way to get where you are going. Yes? No? Passion is one thing, obsession is another.

OK, guys if you’ve been paying attention, you may have picked up some pointers from the advice to the ladies above. Where you fish, what you use for bait, same stuff.

And here’s a more sophisticated test. What kind of ideas do they have and do they act upon them? Talking endlessly about how to solve world hunger, run society on solar power, save the whales, going to write a book, etc. Ideas are easy and talk is cheap, and since marijuana is legal in some states now, talk is much more abundant than action. Can they bridge the gap between thought and action? That’s too much for many people. College professors for example never made the jump, just inhaled ideas and now exhale them to a new generation of inhalers. Guy writes a book, OK, that takes some persistence and organization – a good start. Guy starts a business? Uh oh, he must be a Republican, so drop him like a hot rock! Just kidding, actually starting a business? That’s action and finance and organization and risk and ideas in motion, and maybe long hours at first.

And finally, do you admire him? Do you respect his goals, his ethics, his persistence and ability to get things done? Yes to that is a big step forward.

And then there are the “get out quick while you can” indicators.

  1. Alcohol, hard drugs? Not worth the investment of energy and care. Dump him or tell him to give you a call when he’s done with all that.
  2. Marijuana? If he’s a regular user, dump him as above, because he’s going to graduate to stronger stuff like wax, dabs, heroin, etc.
  3. Illness. If he’s got a chronic disorder, a mental illness, depression, or some rare disease, dump him. It’s probably not his fault, but especially if he goes around telling people he’s ill or he has this or that disorder — he’s defined himself by his disorder or he’s looking for sympathy and if you give him some, you become his nurse instead of his partner. If you want to be a nurse, that’s different, but don’t confuse helping someone with building a family. Build a stable family first, then you can help a lot of people.
  4. If you find yourself aware of his faults and problems and figure that love will conquer all – that the test of your love is to love the guy in spite of all the reasons not to – forget it! Find a partner not a fixer-upper. If you are going to spend a lifetime with him, make it a good one. About half of marriages today end in divorce, 41 percent of children are raised by single parents – mostly mothers – and some religions don’t permit divorce.
  5. And if you think you should choose someone that would never dump you, grow up! You might find the perfect person and get dumped. As they say, “free will is a bitch.” But don’t lower your standards just because you’re afraid you might wind up single. Winding up single is a whole lot better than being married to a bum or an abuser, or a leech. And the older you get, the better your relationship vision gets. And if you think you’re not worthy, knock it off, talk to your minister, priest, rabbi, or spiritual advisor.
  6. Guys who are the strong silent type are usually very hard to communicate with. And communication is the best part of a relationship, the best part of having a partner you admire and respect who shares your life. So dump that guy too, or get him to open up if he’s willing and able.
  7. Relationships have to be continually created by you and your partner. Marriage vows are good for starters, but they need to be reviewed, refreshed and re-made again and again. And keep improving your skills and your interests. Nobody is perfect, problems will arise, but communication is the magic wand. Beauty fades, but love, respect and admiration are spiritual and will last a lifetime.

OK, so there you have it – all the advice I’ve accumulated from many decades of observing bad and good relationships. Here’s to a happy life with someone you love and who loves you!