Dating Tips You Won’t Hear From Dr. Phil

When my friend Lisa dropped by to report on her blind date, her eye was twitching madly, and she was clutching a bottle of antacids. Keen observer that I am, I sensed that it hadn’t gone well. “He sounded so normal on the phone!” she exclaimed. “At dinner, he kept bragging about his successful business, but when the waiter asked for our order, he said, ‘Get whatever you like. I’ve got a coupon.’ He also seemed obsessed with his ex-wife, the Brazilian with the anger-management problem, and kept darting his head around, as if he thought she might show up in the restaurant.”

I clucked sympathetically. “There are good men out there,” I tried to assure her.

“Sure there are. They’re all married to my friends,” Lisa said.

Sadly, Lisa has a lot of company, and not just among women. For years, my friend Ed had sought a life partner who was kind, compatible, didn’t mind his modest earning power, and didn’t require more than 75 pair of shoes. It took years before he found his match. Having talked a lot of singles down from their doldrums, and having been happily married for 23 years, I will now share some of my hard-won lessons about love and marriage which I hope will lead to greater understanding between the “genders” and more happy marriages, too.

Advice for Women:
On Commitment: The commitment gene (known by its biomarker “I-DO”) was one of the last to be introduced into the male of the species. Even God Himself had trouble making this one stick, and rejection of this gene in the host body has been an ongoing problem. Many women don’t understand this, but it’s almost as immutable as static cling in the laundry and email spam. Railing against this is futile. Women are better off by limiting how many months they will date before securing a ring and a hall. After two months of dating, a guy should be asking questions deeper than whether you could see yourself ever rooting for the Red Sox. At six months, he should be transfixed less on whether it’s time to rotate the tiresand more about how you figure in his long-term plans. As painful as it is for women to broach the “C” topic, they can’t afford to go wobbly. Look, if the shmegeggie runs, at least you’ll not have wasted more than two seasons on the prospect. And if you are still dating a guy for two years or more, I need to sit you down and slap you around with a wet noodle. 

On Sports: Sports can be very important to a guy. So can beer. Sports and beer together can be very, very important. Pretend that you understand this, and remember, you don’t have to like either one to get married. I nearly lost my husband to another girl when I said in all innocence that I thought beer made an excellent shampoo. Eventually, he married me anyway.

On Communication: Like commitment, many men need help in communicating their feelings, and even locating them on Google Earth. Tread carefully in this tricky territory. It’s best to remember that most men don’t like to be asked too many questions about their feelings, since, as you’ve noticed, the only guys in the audience of Dr. Phil’s show are manacled to the women next to them. Many women complain that men are lousy listeners, which is often true. If a guy has talked for an hour and still hasn’t said, “But enough about me. . . ,” move on.

Advice for Men:
On Commitment: Understand that most women have been wired for marriage from the moment of conception. When you were playing cops and robbers at 6, your girlfriend was playing wedding dress-up, tottering on her mother’s high-heeled shoes and collecting plastic rings from cheap toy dispensers. Buck up, men! Remember that married men live longer, are healthier physically and emotionally, and far less likely than single guys to live alone in the woods with a shotgun, scribbling notes about conspiracy theories. Still not convinced? They out-earn single men, too.

Smart women will not date you forever. They are multi-taskers, and are capable of dating and shopping for sets of china and flatware at the same time. They are eager to establish families complete with cute children and matching furniture. This is really a good thing. I promise!

On Shopping:Shopping is to women what sports is to men, except for women, shopping is not a spectator sport. While you should avoid dating women whose only magazine subscription is to InStyle magazine and who can “not find anything” after spending four hours in a shoe store that extends a full city block, you will have to make peace with women’s single-minded focus over things such as matching colors, sudden, inexplicable needs to change outfits for reasons only known to them, and the requirement to upgrade their purses every season. If this is as bad as it gets, consider yourself fortunate.

On Communication: Women are relationship beings, and will be eager to share their feelings with you over the course of your relationship. You may find this boring,  unsettling or annoying, but you will get used to it. Don’t try to solve a woman’s problems when she shares them with you. You may think you are “helping” by offering to solve her problem, but you will only annoy her and make her think she needs to out for a full pedicure and highlights. As your relationship grows, you will learn to reach a happy medium between talking, listening, and watching the NBA playoffs.

I hope everybody is clear on all this. Dr. Phil, if you are reading this, I am always available to fill in for you - I just need a day’s notice to get a pedicure and highlights.

Posted by judy @ 12:31 PM •

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