Now just because I’m a married woman that doesn’t mean I don’t have any single friends, or that I don’t recall what it’s like to be a single lady. During gossip fests and girl talks with many of my single girlfriends over the years the topic of the “Good On Paper Guy” has come up again, and again, and again. We talk about defining them, dating them, marrying them, and wanting to marry them. Who is this Good On Paper Guy? Well he’s usually described a the guy every woman considers her dream guy, a guy she feels she can brag about and one she’s even convinced her parents or peers would highly approve of her dating or marrying. Now this all sounds sweet on the surface, but where I take issue with the idea is when it comes to the qualities we list on these guy’s metaphorical papers – things like how many degrees he has, where he went to college, his title at work, how much money he makes, and even how much he spends on his clothes.
Really ladies!? Those are the things that immediately come to mind when you’re dreaming up the perfect man? It took me a few years of dating hell and lots of tissue boxes, but I finally figured out that these things can be nice qualities in a mate, but they don’t always equal bliss when it comes to dating. Or more importantly, they’re superficial qualities that certainly don’t ensure that he’ll be an awesome husband.
That’s why it never surprised me that back during my single days in college dating these Good On Paper Guys never worked out as I’d hoped and they always put something else before me – work ,their boys, their egos, the club – and the same scenario often repeats with my friends and their same-type dates. Falling for Gibran really turned a light bulb on for me. I thought to myself: I know why this happens now. We (as in strong and phenomenal women looking for love) are listing the wrong things on these guy’s resumes, and keeping track of qualities that might make a man sound like a great catch but ultimately don’t guarantee that he’ll even be a real man or can handle a real relationship that’s healthy. And do they make him the man destined for you? Yes, occasionally a man can pretty much have it all (I admit it!) but if you’re going to scan for superficial things on his resume, be sure to look for just as many core qualities you’ll need from him too. You know things like: He supports and makes me better. His smile makes me smile. He doesn’t give up. He’s handy around the house and willing to help. He gets me. You know, the good stuff!
Now, I want to honestly point out here that I’m not judging anybody’s dating habits here, I’m merely reflecting on my own experiences and those of my friend’s. Because I’ve been there! Funny story: When my best friends and I were in high school we made lists of the things we wanted in “the perfect guy” and a potential husband. Then we made photo copies of the lists and checked off what the guys we dated did and did not have. It sounds like an oddly mature way to look at dating during adolescence but what I get now that we didn’t back then is that the qualities that we listed weren’t really the types of things that would mattered most when we were all grown up and ready to fall madly in love, meet a soul mate, and get married. On my list I remember having put down things like: “has a nice car”, “will buy me nice gifts for my birthday”, “my dad likes him”, “he returns my pages”.
Now, though not all bad, my list was definitely misguided — even then. It took me years to comprehend the connection between why my Good On Paper Guys weren’t so good in person and what I needed to learn and understand about myself to create a list of qualities truly worth looking for in my mate. I understand now that as women, we sometimes require qualities that aren’t necessary in our lovers and overlook those that are imperative. It’s unfortunate but true. Remember that viral video Black Marriage Negotiations. Though slightly offensive, it says it all. Here, watch for yourself.
Now that you’ve seen this, consider this: I challenge you to keep in mind that things like the kind of car he drives or whether or not he owns a business or a house can’t be the only standouts on his resume – in fact they don’t have to be there at all. How do I know? Because there is no formula for the perfect man, but I wound up lucky enough to find and marry a good one, and you might be surprised to find that his “paper” doesn’t have many of the things yours might. But to me it’s a list of all of the things I love about him and the things that made him the one for me. I turned it into my own personal exercise and below is my good guy — on paper! When I completed it I saw something very clear on this piece of paper. It’s the formula for the right man for me – flaws and all. (Have a look. But please excuse my handwriting. I type for a living!)
What does your Good On Paper Guy look like? Are you looking for something you don’t really need to find to be happy? Or maybe you’ve found that your list has changed over the years and the guy you married or are dating is everything you need and more. Just asking…and of course I would love to see your list!
- Do Wedding Rings Bring the Creeps Around? (manwifeanddog.com)
- The Science of Single: One Year’s Worth of Dating Advice (time.com)
- Girl Talk: On Falling Out Of Love (thefrisky.com)
- Naughty or Nice? Single Men and Married Men (psychologytoday.com)
- Is Marriage “Just a Piece of Paper” Today? (psychologytoday.com)
- “We’re Young, Fly, And Fancy, But We Don’t Have A Man” (hellobeautiful.com)