Vail Relationships column: Settling for ‘Mr. Good Enough’
Editor’s note: This is from “The Best of Neil Rosenthal.”
Dear Neil: I am a 36-year-old single woman who has never married. I have dated literally hundreds of men from all walks of life — from professionals to artists to ski bums to doctors and performers. But every man I’ve dated turns out to have a fatal flaw. He already has children, he’s too old, too young, not educated enough, works too much, he doesn’t relate well to my friends and family, he dresses badly, isn’t athletic, isn’t handy around the house, has money problems, isn’t good looking — you name it.
Most of my friends have married and started a family, but I seem to be stuck in this never-ending cycle of failed dating relationships. Because of my biological clock, it feels as if time is getting short for me. Can you help me?
Waiting in Vancouver
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Dear Vancouver: You have essentially two choices: Either keep looking for Mr. Right — even if that means not finding a husband in time for you to have a family, or permit yourself to find and accept Mr. Good Enough.
The most significant difference between the two is that there are far more men who might not be entirely perfect, but still might be “good enough.” Of course you want a stylish dresser who has great taste and who is attractive. Of course you want a caring and nurturing guy and a good provider who will make a wonderful and loving dad. There is nothing wrong with any of these desires. But if you don’t stop trying to find the man who has everything, then you’re going to wind up rejecting every guy you meet.
Is being handy around the house more important than honesty? Is being athletic a greater priority than kindness or good communication or affection? You can teach or assist a man to be a good dresser or to connect with your family (which often takes time), you could grow to be close with his children, and you could hire a handyman instead of needing to marry one.
No doubt some of his traits or behaviors you will find annoying or irritating, but that’s being part of a couple, and every couple learns to develop tolerance for the less appealing qualities of his or her mate. That’s what life is like with a real person — and not a perfect one.
Here’s my suggestion: Find someone you like being with, who you feel some degree of chemistry with, someone you find easy to relate to, who has similar goals about marriage and having children and who is trustworthy, honest and affectionate — and give him a real chance to succeed with you. Instead of searching for Mr. Right, allow yourself to find and accept Mr. Good Enough. You’ll have a far greater chance of succeeding.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777, or visit neilrosenthal.com.
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