DEAR READERS: A 38-year-old man wrote to me saying he has never married –- that when he was in his 20s, women ignored him or told him he was "nice, but boring," or that he didn't have enough money. He said that women want only "bad guys" or men with deep pockets, "but now that they're past their prime and have two kids the bad boy left them with" -– he is now good enough. He concluded by saying, "If I wasn't good enough for them then, why should I be good enough now?"
Frankly, I found his attitude offensive. I advised him that if he was still dating women as shallow as those he'd tried to date in his 20s, he should not involve himself with any of them –- that he would be single forever, and I suspected that's the way he wants it.
Some readers felt I didn't look deeply enough. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Please suggest to that man that it's possible the women he mentioned have now matured and realize what qualities are important in a mate, father and role model. Too often, young women think that a fast, wild, carefree romance is the ticket to happiness. Too often, by the time they wake up and realize the "boring," kind, stable guy was a far better choice, they have children, a broken heart, shattered dreams, and are trying to piece their lives back together.
I don't believe those women are looking for a meal ticket, but rather someone they can love, respect and trust to help raise their children in a safe, loving environment.
It's sad that man is so negative and stuck in the past instead of trying to build a future with someone. You were right, Abby. He probably will end up alone, because there ARE men who will step up to the challenge of being kind, loving stepfathers to the children, and loving husbands to women who made unfortunate choices in the past. I know, because I married one. -- HAPPY MOTHER OF FOUR IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR HAPPY: I agree, he is "stuck." And until he makes up his mind to live in the moment, he will stay that way.
DEAR ABBY: I have encountered the same attitude that writer describes, and the women weren't all shallow or conceited. They simply believed they were due more than a decent, loyal and honest guy. It's no different than the man past his prime claiming a trophy wife because he feels he "deserves" it –- and everyone agrees that's a despicable attitude.
Both come from the same source, I suspect: Media that constantly tell us from every direction, more than ever before, that only the highest level of physical attractiveness is acceptable in a mate. That concept is shallow, but it affects an awful lot of people who aren't. It feeds on our deepest insecurities, the junior-high self who was ostracized for being different, and who never truly goes away.
By placing the blame for the man not dating back on the women, you ignored the true problem for both men and women, and invalidated someone who may have an accurate view of his world. Seeing reality is the first step toward changing it. -- MADISON, WIS. (MALE) READER
DEAR READER: I think you hit the nail on the head. Thank you for your shrewd analysis. You taught me something today.
DEAR ABBY: The fact the writer views women so negatively is sabotaging any good relationship he might have. That writer needs to realize that women are individuals; some make good choices, others poor ones. He needs to figure out why the only women he meets are the ones who make poor choices, and the good women avoid him. He blames women for his woes, but chances are that he's the real problem. -- GOOD GUY WHO GOT THE GIRL, HOUSTON
DEAR GOOD GUY: I agree.