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What I Am Looking For

April 8, 2022 | 649 words | Personal History

What are you looking for in a woman?  This is one of the first questions asked of a man on an internet dating site.  Since subscribing last June I haven’t had a ready answer.  Other than the obvious, self-depreciating one:  Anyone who will put up with me.

It’s easy to rattle off a laundry list of preferred qualities one might be looking for in a woman, as they would appear in a dating profile.  Mine would start with someone who is down to earth.  Bright, and brimming with native intelligence, if not necessarily advanced degrees.  And possessed of a ready wit.    

Enjoys nature and the simple pleasures.  Is artsy in her bones, and has an art (there are many varieties and variations) that she actively practices.  Can be moved by any type of music on any given day, and is prone to “driveway moments” to let a favorite song finish.

Hard-working, with maybe a touch of the problem-solving entrepreneur in her.  Someone prepared to tackle her psychological stuff, while I attempt to address my own.  Even if my means and methods and timetable is a little different than hers.  So that we can eventually be receptive to each other as reasonably ‘present.’

Essentially what I have done here is describe myself.  Which is what I think we all end up doing on these internet dating sites.  Whether we recognize it or not, each of us is looking for an exact match who will dovetail effortlessly with our moods and preferences.

Not that you can blame any of us.  At this age, adjusting and adapting to a completely different temperament, no matter how great the initial physical attraction might be, can make for heavy sledding.

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Many people – most women and some men – are emotional creatures who feel everything deeply.  Often such people are relational by nature and like to talk through what they are feeling.  They find this sort of sharing cathartic.  I, on the other hand, am a little more solitary than the average bear.  What this means in practical terms is the more deeply I feel something, the quieter I initially want to become.

Before I can be comfortable talking about my reaction to a given situation, I need to find the rights words.  Or at least the best possible words I can come up with under the circumstances.  It’s not that I am trying to solve anything, once and for all, before deigning to speak.  But I do need to get a decent handle on my thoughts and emotions before opening my mouth.

This process of parsing things out in my own time can strike an associate as taking too long, and that perceived delay can be problematic.  But my trying to hurry things up to facilitate an exchange and maintain a conversation doesn’t work, either.  Going public before I am ready, with a rough first draft description of what I am feeling, only frustrates me.  And then neither one of us is happy.

In recent years I have found that writing always helps me sort things out.  But writing about an emotional situation in the interests of continuing a dialogue – especially if said dialogue is with an intimate partner – can seem cold, to say the least.  It can come across like I am trying to avoid a close encounter, instead of trying to enhance and deepen one.  

When it comes to communicating emotions, it’s thoroughly understandable that most people would rather receive immediate feedback.  And would much rather be spoken to than receive a measured email or a lengthy letter.  

So let’s go ahead and add this quirk to the growing list of reasons why it will be difficult for me to find a half-way sympatico companion at this stage of life.  I prefer to process emotionally charged situations slowly, at least a bit more slowly than most people may like.

 

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr

April 8, 2022

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