Myth: It was "love" at first sight.
Fact: Spell it l-u-s-t. Sometimes it lasts. Too often it doesn't.
THE SMARTEST WOMAN KNOWS ...
No matter how powerful the attraction, no matter how unique the chemistry, and no matter how promising the potential, getting to know another human being is a process that can't be rushed.
THE SMARTEST WOMAN KNOWS ...
Finding and Maintaining Long-term Love Requires Big-time Work.
Even- year, dozens of new hooks are published about relationship issues. Every month, dozens of women's magazines devote page after page to these same questions. At 31, Dawn feels as though she has read most of those books and magazines. And whenever Oprah has a show that seems particularly interesting. Dawn's mother tapes it and sends it to her be mail.
The fact is that Dawn is embarrassed to admit how much time she has already spent trying to figure out how to get one specific man - or men in general - to like her. But so far. paying all this attention to how she looks, what she says, or how she acts hasn't gotten her what she wants. That's not to say men don't find Dawn attractive and appealing. They do. But she's had too many first dates that didn't turn into second dates, too many second dates that didn't turn into third dates, too many third dates that didn't turn into relationships, and too many relationships that unraveled all too soon.
Dawn desperately wants a satisfying, fulfilling long-term relationship. She wants children, and she wants to be part of a family. But in order to do that she needs a mate, and since her sexual orientation is heterosexual, this means she is going lo have to relate to men This fact is sometimes enough to make her want to scream What Dawn really wants is a miracle. She wants a relationship to be easy, and she wants it to be fast. But relationships don't work that way. At least not the kind of relationships that work.
Many women think like Dawn. They say: "He's a man; I'm a woman; we're attracted to each other. Shouldn't the rest be easy?" Well, sometimes it is, but just as often the relationship never gets off the ground, and all that's left is the memory of a bad date, or just a bad moment that ends the possibility of any future dates. Granted, not all relationships are made in heaven. Try as we might - and often we try way too hard - some relationships are simply not meant to be.
But what about the many relationships that, given half a chance, could turn into something special? What happens to all of those couplings that seem so ripe with potential but fall through the cracks so quickly? What about all those could-be-compatible relationships that stall or lose their way moments out of the starting gate? So many promising beginnings come to such abrupt endings. So many potentially great relationships end up on the cutting-room floor.
Beginnings are hard. When two strangers meet, they have too little history to keep them stuck together through thick and thin. One or two steps "out of bounds" for either party and everything quickly becomes unglued. When we first meet, very few of us have the foresight or judgment to give each other a real chance. It seems like everyone has a hair trigger. One false step, one wrong move, one missed cue, and either member of that would-be relationship thinks. 'I'm out of here."' and all that potential is history.
Women have to be particularly careful about making the wrong kind of quick judgments, because often the only men who don't say or do something wrong are the ones who are frightfully skilled at beginnings. These are the professional daters, the ones who make no mistakes. These men always say the right thing, and always do the right thing. At least at first. The only mistake is yours, for being taken in by all that smoothness.
Men often make similar mistakes in the beginning. They are frequently enchanted by women who are fearless about saying and doing the kinds of things that even' man wants. And they can turn away from sincere women who are not as practiced at seduction.
Every beginning is richly laced with ritual and fantasy. It's a necessary part of the process, and it there is too great a shortage of either one, the energy tends to fade quite quickly and interest wanes. But as complex, as demanding, and as draining as these beginnings are, they are still just beginnings And it you are fortunate enough to get a good spin of the dice and advance past the first square, you can be assured that even greater challenges await you.
Beginnings are exciting. Beginnings are scan- Beginnings are fun. They are also confusing, sometimes embarrassing, and all too often disappointing. Yet, as difficult as it may be at times, courtship is a process that must be endured by many evolved species, and human beings are no exception. And endure we do. No sooner have you sworn off dating forever and ever and ever and ever than you find yourself once again playing nervously with the ice cubes in your sparkling water as you look into the eyes of a virtual stranger, wondering if maybe, just maybe, this could be "the one."
It certainly is possible. But maybe this could be something else. Maybe this man will be a new friend, perhaps even a best friend. Maybe this will be a great guy to introduce to someone else. Maybe this will turn into a terrific business opportunity. Maybe this will be a summer romance. Maybe this will be only a fun date, or someone to invite to your parties as a single man. Maybe this will be the one. Who knows?
The Smartest Woman would advise Dawn and others like her that they need to be thinking about ways to create opportunities and open up possibilities. They have to stop thinking about the marriage and babies that could happen in the future and start thinking about the dating and male friendships that could be happening right now.