Single women who want marriage are suffering from a devastating blight—and I’m not talking about Tinder. I’m referring to the infectious lack of confidence that has overcome and burdened single women for too long.
In today’s dating scene, we are told that we're “picky” when we want a man who inspires. We're told that our best option is a fixer-upper, or worse, a charity project. We even convince ourselves that it is empowering, that we like to be the one in control, the one who needs to show our man the ropes. We like having to be the one who leads our guy to water. I mean, all men are hopeless, right?
Then why do we find ourselves so frustrated by these men we're so grateful to have?
I think there's more going on than bad storytelling of the insidious “culture" or a lack of "manning up." Many of us women fear what it might mean to actually date the kind of man we desire. Maybe we buy into thinking that we aren't attractive enough, or that a good man wouldn't be into us. Or maybe we think a good man is simply too hard to find. We fall into the trap that a guy who frustrates us or who really isn't ready to be the kind of boyfriend we desire—but he's into us—may just be the best we can do.
When you are with a man who you admire, it can be a humbling experience—and that’s scary. Dating the Commitment Phobe, the Perpetual Hookup, or even Mr. Alright For Now means we won’t have to be in that scary relationship with the opposite sex that will require us to grow. Instead we drive ourselves crazy trying to master the art of How To Get Your Man To Commit or Tricks To Drive Him Mad.
So what would happen if we stopped settling for the low-hanging fruit and dated up instead?
My bet is, those of us who are unmarried would spend less time babysitting boyfriends and more time dating men who stretch us and who humble us—and trust me, despite what you might have been led to believe, that’s a good thing.
Dating “up,” so to speak, does have some unpleasant sounding connotations, so allow me to clarify. I’m not suggesting that you should compare yourself to men and seek only those who make you feel hopelessly lacking. Nor do I mean that we should allow ourselves to become unrelenting in our quest for the perfect man—and therefore truly “picky.” While men who inspire are definitely out there, the perfect man is in fact, fiction. It would be a mistake to think that just because you have landed yourself God’s Gift To Women, you won’t have work ahead of you. Even the men who humble us and inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves need some work—just like you.
So how do you know you're on the right track? You can easily identify character qualities you admire about him. You feel inspired to become the best you (or at least wake up with the best of intentions). You seek to encourage and share in his interests—if you want nothing to do with what makes him tick, then chances are you don’t admire him that much. You feel lucky—even though deep down you know he is lucky, too. You want the world to know you're together, not as an accessory to show off, but because you're pretty proud that he is your man.
If you are someone who wants marriage, it’s important to find a man who both complements and challenges you. An important part of what makes marriage so fulfilling is personal growth inspired by the love and attention of someone we admire. This means that settling for a man who makes you look good will not be good enough.
Take hope, and most of all, courage. Good men who inspire good women are out there. He might just be waiting for an encouraging smile from you.