My single friends and I often complain about the limited selection of single men in Chicago. In reality, there are plenty of them, but it can take what seems like forever, and several heartaches and breaks, to meet the right ones. The trouble isn’t meeting men, we meet them all over—at the gym, at the bars, through friends—but after the first couple of dates or even several months of dating, the relationships usually end due to lack of chemistry, commitment phobia, or lack of communication. I can continue rattling off the list of reasons for break-ups and sometimes, there doesn’t always have to be a clear reason, that’s just how dating goes. But, I have started to wonder, how and when should we expand our dating pool?
We spend quite a bit of time complaining about the selection of singles in the city, but perhaps it’s our long list of dating requirements that is significantly narrowing the dating pool.
I am certainly guilty of being selective, but recently, I have started to further consider the criteria for my own selectivity. Frequently, people choose to search for the perfect match within their same religion, culture, or past marital status (divorced? children?) due to familiarity, comfort, and acceptance within their family. This makes a lot of sense and perhaps seems to promise a smoother, more seamless marriage. However, I have seen first-hand that there are still plenty of homogeneous couples who, regardless of these similarities, struggle. In fact, just like any other pairing, only a portion of these marriages last. It’s well known that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, so even if we wind up in a homogenous marriage, our odds will always be 50-50. Marriage is hard work. Which makes me wonder: Do we sometimes set such firm boundaries for ourselves that we inadvertently de-emphasize other important traits that Mr./Mrs. Right should possess and share with us to ensure lifetime happiness? Furthermore, should we be willing to widen our pool and date beyond initial religious and cultural boundaries to expand our options in finding the perfect emotional and intellectual equal?
Of course, it’s possible to find someone who matches up religiously and culturally, and fulfills all of our other relationship needs, such as shared morals, hobbies, ambitions, sense of humor, intelligence, respect, and sense of accountability, too. But considering that marriage is a challenge no matter what, as we date and search for our life partner, if we are lucky enough to have the rare experience of meeting someone who loves and accepts us for who we are, does it really matter if they meet that long list of requirements? Maybe it’s time we all take a leap of faith.