The girl I've been seeing for awhile sent me this tonight. She just so happens to work at Subway on the weekends, so this was funny on a couple levels. But beyond the fact that she makes me laugh, spending time with her got me thinking about what I'm looking for in a woman, or to be more exact, if I'm actually looking at all.
Anyone who was reading ELEVEN in March of this year knows that the girl I was going out with then (the only person I've dated since Ell left) was 24 years old. This one is 22 years old. And if anyone is keeping score, I'm 36. Now before you call me a cradle-robber, or worse, know that I'm not intentionally going after younger women. That said, there's no denying I'm not currently attracted to women my own age. What that means has been the thing rolling around in my head for some time.
The one psychological possibility I've pondered is the fact that when I was with Ell I was madly in love with the idea of growing old with her. It didn't matter to me that Ell was going to get wrinkles or gray hair or that eventually things wouldn't always be pointing in the right direction. In fact, I was looking forward to those things and to the idea of the two of us aging together. Every day Ell got older she was more attractive to me than the day before. I know that might not be a normal guy thing to say -- that I found beauty in extra skin or an aging face -- but it wasn't a secret those things were special to me. Now that she's gone, the end to that pondering thought is I may not want to get involved with someone who's already in the middle of that aging process; i.e. someone my age. I know that sounds superficial and possibly ignorant and rude, but remember, it's only a theory. And if that theory turns out to be correct, it would explain my attraction to younger women.
Those of you who know me well, know I'm not the asshole kind of a guy who sees women as objects for belittling or domineering. As much as I know many people feel differently, I see marriage as a 50/50 partnership. There are unique roles that men and women play in a relationship, but I will never agree that those roles should ever be demanded or forced. A true, even biblical, example of marriage is submission not domination. Every truly happy marriage I see is one where each person involved is willing to be submissive and honoring of their role in the marriage and never, ever demands the other do the same. Furthermore, I see those happy marriages happen because the partners want to respect one another out of only love and nothing else either warped or oppressive.
As a human, I feel deeply, love wholly, and respect completely. If I were to be honest I'd have to admit I'm still at a loss for where my life is headed since Ell left. For many years I searched for answers to the elusive questions like, "What will you be when you grow up?" and, "What's your five year plan?" and as Ell neared the end of her schooling there were finally starting to be some answers to those questions. But when she left, they all crashed to the ground. Where will I be in five years? I have no clue. What will I be doing? Again, no clue. But despite not having those answers, I'm still very happy and wonderfully at peace. As strange as it sounds, I no longer need answers to my questions to be happy. I'm still the same guy but my life is no longer dictated by needing to follow a certain path.
So what am I really looking for? Do I need the next woman I marry (if I even decide to get married again) to be younger so that I can enjoy the aging process I so love? Am I spitting on all those great qualities people say I have by being superficial in my dating decisions? Or am I just a confused individual who's unanswered questions will leave him wandering forever? Well, even to those questions I don't have good answers, but I will say I'm still the same guy I've always been, albeit with some healing scars. I will always, always, always treat the woman I'm with, with mad respect, and no matter her age, give her my all. That will never change.
Am I perfect? Gracious no. Am I looking for the perfect woman? Again, no. No one is perfect, but together a man and woman can find a harmony with each other that washes away imperfection and leaves something even more special. And that's all I want..... a chance to build something of substance and meaning. Is that too much to ask for?