An Exceptional Man

I got some great news yesterday. A friend of mine has met and started dating a man whom she thinks is wonderful. He might even be “The One.” I have never before seen her so happy, and it filled my heart with joy.

As she was describing this man, however, gushing about how kind, attentive, caring, etc., he seemed to be, I started to worry a bit. I have no reason to believe there is anything at all wrong with the man, whom I have never met, but I began to realize I had no reason to believe, from anything she described, that there was anything exceptionally great about him either. She liked that in months of online chatting they had moved beyond small-talk. (Personally, I don’t endure small-talk for more than an hour.) She was excited by the fact that he respected her boundaries. Isn’t that the bare minimum a normal man should do? She loved that when unexpected things happened to cause problems on their dates (car problems, traffic slowdowns, mosquitoes attacking them on an outdoor adventure) he responded with good humor instead of non-stop complaining. While this behavior is admirable, I’ve found that even a serial-complainer will stifle it on the first, few dates. It takes time to prove that this is a real, positive quality and not just an act. She loved that she could share personal things with him and not be greeted with contempt or derision. The fact that she had ever been on a date with any man who made her feel bad about her personal quirks, which I believe are a great part of her unique charm, shocked me. Such men are rude. That this man was not so horrible toward her seems to me to make him normal, not exceptional.

Here is the thing: I believe my friend is exceptional. She is beautiful – as in gorgeous. She rarely wears makeup, rarely goes to any effort at all on her hair or clothes, but she’s still remarkably lovely. When she does go to effort – look out! She is also brilliant. She is fluent in multiple languages, she has a couple degrees in sciences, a background in health and medicine, and a mind that can pierce directly to the core of any issue with astonishing clarity. On top of that, she is sweet-natured, unassuming, positive, cheerful, empathetic, and inexplicably modest. She is building her own business – two steps forward, one step back – with admirable persistence, and she is determined to be self-sufficient. She does want companionship, but she is certainly not looking for any man to support her. Her only “negative” is that she is recently divorced and a single mother of young children. I know, for some men, that is a significant turn-off, but that is their loss in this case. I believe she would be an amazing catch for anyone worthy of her. Now, however, I’m beginning to wonder if she is as aware of her value as she should be, and willing to wait for a man who will appreciate her as much as she deserves.

How badly must she have been treated in her marriage for her to believe that a man acting with normal behavior is exceptionally wonderful? I understand that, especially once a woman is married and pregnant, she will put up with a lot of behavior she shouldn’t in order to keep the marriage together for the sake of her child. I’ve been there and done that. In retrospect, I realize that my first pregnancy was the point my ex-husband turned from an apparently decent guy to an obvious a**-h*le, though he was certainly lying quite a lot before that. I spent the rest of our marriage trying to excuse inexcusable abuse and fix problems that I had not caused and had no power to change. I turned into a self-sacrificing doormat for the sake of my children, never realizing that their father was abusing them, too. It was a necessary but difficult lesson for me in the fact that true evil does exist. It was a lesson that took me far too long to learn and one that I still struggle to fully appreciate since the depth of his cruelty to his own wife and children seems too depraved to be human. Hopefully, I have now learned this lesson well enough that I will never need a refresher course. However, when I am ready to step back into the dating world, I wonder if, like my friend, I will be blown away by what should be normal behavior, since my ex was so comparatively bad. Will I become absurdly grateful for a man acting with common etiquette rather than outright rudeness? Will I be inclined to confuse basic, normal respect for “love?” Have I been so damaged by an evil man that a normal man will seem extraordinarily wonderful? Is this skewed perspective something I should watch for in myself? It may be this is a normal side-effect of abusive relationships, for which I should be on guard in my own life.

Bottom line, however, my fears for my friend are probably nothing more than my projection of my own worries for myself. They are likely nothing more than proof of the fact that, unlike her, I’m not ready yet to date. Why else would I seek out the possible negative in something that seems so overwhelmingly positive?

My friend seems smarter than I am. She got out of her bad marriage earlier. She turned her incredible intelligence into analyzing what she had done wrong and worked to fix the issues in herself that got her into that bad situation and kept her there for a while. She is now ready for real love in her life, and is in every way worthy of it. I hope she has truly found it, but I know that, even if this man isn’t “it,” she is strong and resilient. She will be fine and keep going until she does find her best partner. There is every possibility that this man is an outstanding match for her, however. I’m alarmed that she is so excited about behavior that should be minimally expected – but that doesn’t change the fact that there are, so far, no “red flags.” Her read is that he is genuine, honest, sincere in his attraction to her, respectful, emotionally available but willing to take it as slowly as she desires. She also finds him sexy and romantic in a very healthy way. He is everything she had been hoping to find in a man, and she says he seems even better than she had dared to desire. She is happy in this first flush of romance, and there is no reason to believe the love between them won’t deepen and grow continuously through time. I hope it does. In fact, I’m expecting it will! She certainly deserves the best, and her achieving it gives me hope for myself as well.

Leave a Reply