A few days ago I published a short rant about the troubles I have with dating, including some tips for men and a generalized statement about what I am looking for boiled down to one word: Character.
One Freshly Pressed link, 4,000+ views and 200+ comments later, I realized that I am not alone in my desire to find a man of character, not alone in my pursuit of a great single life “in the meantime”, and not alone in thinking dating shouldn’t be so ridiculously . . . ridiculous.
The agreements were really validating, and I feel even more empowered to stand up and say “This isn’t what I am looking for!” and not fear that those words will imprison me in singleness for the rest of my life (versus not admitting them and being imprisoned in a terrible relationship, which would be worse than singleness). I hope a lot of the readers and commentors feel similarly empowered.
Along the way there were a few comments that really stood out to me, mostly the ones disagreeing with my perceptions and request for valiant men to be more available to all of us single ladies.
One such comment went like this:
I think you are watching Too many Humphrey Bogart Movies. I am a guy, and you are asking for too much. I wouldn’t show all of these things on a first date or even a third date. That’s something you see when in a relationship and that’s how you really find who I am. Dating is just to get in on the relationship. And relationships fail, and you move on. Honestly, you will regret it the moment you are settling down and a thought may arise, ‘Maybe I should’ve dated more.’ Just saying!!
Good post though.
I disagree that character is something that is only available after really getting to know someone and I am actually proposing that a woman of character can spot of man of character a mile away just by the little things he does.
For example, over the weekend my family had a picnic and my brother-in-law brought a friend from work that we hadn’t met before. This man shook each of our hands and looked us straight in the eyes when he met us. He engaged in our conversation, was polite and shared about his own children. He helped clean up after the picnic, grabbing the trash from me and running it across the street. He carried all the heavy stuff back to the car so my mom didn’t have to do it.
These might seem like small things, but character can be shown in service.
Another example: I had a customer at work recently that broke his collar bone so I helped carry some stuff out to his car. He then walked me back to the building and opened the door for me before he left. Character can be shown in gentlemanly behavior.
I got in on a late flight a couple of nights ago and had to take a bus to the airport economy lot. The bus driver let me off at my stop and waited until I got safely to my car before driving off. Character can be shown by naturally protecting someone that is vulnerable.
These men weren’t on date number four with me. They were being themselves, and obviously caring about the people around them in even a casual setting, even in small ways.
[This versus the guy that took me out to a movie last week, complained about the fact that he had to drive us there and told me on the way that I had to pay for parking.]
Granted, I don’t know how these men handle financial trouble or arguments with their spouses or treat their children, but I believe character seeps through into action and these men revealed their character in small, simple acts.
They say that you can judge how a man will treat you by the way he treats his mother. I think there is a lot to be said by the way he treats the people around him – the barista, the server, the terrible driver in front of you, the homeless man on the street corner.
Here is another comment from the post, So What Do I Want, Anyway?
My response to your summary of what you want. Good luck, that’s what we all are dreaming of and misled to expect!
It doesn’t exist, well maybe a few which are already taken at this point in our lives. …Modern culture does not create Humphrey Bogart anymore.
I believe there are good men out there. I believe some of them have been “taken” and are in amazing relationships with amazing woman. I also believe that some of them are still looking for amazing available woman and probably wondering why they can’t find them just like I am wondering why I have yet to find a great man to walk beside.
If modern culture does not create men of integrity, we have much bigger problems than a few people’s dating lives.
The idea of character to me isn’t a set of personality characteristics. It isn’t about if they are extroverted or introverted, but how they treat the people they are around at any given moment. It isn’t about the decisions they have made, but about how they have learned and grown from those decisions. It isn’t about being cinematically romantic, but about caring deeply and seeing value in people. It isn’t about being perfect, it is about being and actively growing into being a deeply good person.
And that is my definition of character – the one word on my list of things I am looking for in a future date/boyfriend/spouse.
To be fair, I am not letting myself off the hook here. I don’t expect to skate by without being a woman who loves deeply, treats people with respect and protects her family. I know that asking for a good man means I need to be a good woman. But, I want to let any guy out there know that I, and probably a few others, are asking you to step up, to be a Man, to be your best self. Not because we are our best selves, but because it is who you were meant to be.
I give men permission to open my door. I give men permission to ask me out on a proper date, walk on the traffic side of the sidewalk, take off your hat when you meet someone. I give men permission to show up with flowers if you want, let me order first at the restaurant, and treat people with respect. Just in case you were wondering, these things are okay.
Ladies and Gents,
Do you agree with me? Is character important? Can you see it in acquaintances and the everyday interactions you have with people?
Am I way off base, asking for too much and bound to be disappointed as I set up the entire male specious for failure in they eyes of females?
What does this high standard for men mean for us woman?