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I am twenty-one, single, and in no hurry to get hitched. However, I was hoping you could provide some guidance as to what you think men should look for in a woman. I care about the way I present myself and what kind of man I am becoming. I hope that I can find someone who too wants to conduct herself with class and character. What are the most important things in a woman that as men we should desire, and not over-look just because she is hot? (Sorry if that seemed blunt)
I love your email. I love it because it’s honest and vulnerable, and yes, a little clueless. Don’t take that as an insult. Being 21 is magical in a way that 31 (hello recent birthday!) is not. Long time readers will appreciate this–I have to reference Sex and the City. In the first movie, Carrie is at a bar with her new assistant and they’re drinking. Carrie says something along the lines of your twenties being the time that you enjoy yourself, your thirties being the time that you learn your lessons, and your forties being the time that you pay for the drinks. It’s not a bad model to follow. For me, my twenties were a time when I both enjoyed myself AND learned lessons (funny how the two seem to go hand in hand, yes?). I dated people who were terrible for me; I blew off commitments that should have been important to me. These were failures, right? Yes, but failures that were necessary and helpful and ultimately…good. Failure is the ONLY way that we become better. I have always been a perfectionist, so this is not a perspective I feel comfortable with, but it is definitely true to life.
All of this is to say…at 21, you don’t need to have it figured out. You can date whoever you want, and if some of those people you’re with only because they’re hot, well, why not? Better to get this out of your system now than in twenty years when there is a lot more at stake. I absolutely agree that you should be in no hurry to get hitched. It is true, some people find true and lasting love early on. But I think that is the exception rather than the rule. Think about what you want to accomplish in your life. Think about what is important to you. Do that now, and do that next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. What you value may change from year to year, and at this point in your life, that is fine. It is to be expected. You are not required to believe and value what your parents believe and value. You are not required to take the paths that your friends have taken. Apply all of this to your dating life: if you date a woman who is smart and beautiful, but rude to everyone around her, maybe you’ll take that to heart and realize that manners are something you’re looking for in the next woman.
I’m sure the readers will have a lot to say about how to spot a woman with “class and character,” but since both of those terms are pretty abstract concepts, I’m not going to try and tackle them. Your definition of a woman with class and character might be totally different than someone else’s. I know you only from an email and that is not nearly enough information to know what will make you happy. It’s more helpful for me to assure you that if you continue to think about what is important to you, and you are honest with yourself, I don’t think you’ll be swept away into a doomed marriage with a leggy, toned, busty blonde who has terrible morals and a brain the size of a dumpling.
Of course looks are hard to overlook now–you’re 21! As you age, your priorities will naturally shift and change. Have a little faith in yourself–with time and self-reflection, you will pick a woman who has the qualities that make her a good match for you…regardless of her bra size or waist measurements.