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Carolyn Hax: He’s counting the options and doesn’t like them

DEAR CAROLYN: I’m an average-looking guy – let’s say a 6 – and after years of dating, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have four options when it comes to women, none of which seems to add up to long-term happiness.

Option 1: Be with a woman who is more attractive than me, but less intelligent or mentally stable, thus trading intellectual connection for beauty.

Option 2: Be with a woman of equal intelligence and attractiveness, but spend my life in boredom once the novelty wears off, and end up like every other married zombie.

Option 3: Be with a woman who is more successful and intelligent, but less attractive than I, and spend my life fighting the temptations of lust (think Bill Clinton).

Option 4: Become the lonely creepy uncle at Thanksgiving.

Is my outlook completely distorted and pessimistic? Or am I just being an entitled moron with an inflated ego? Is there a 5th option (other than becoming rich and famous)? I’d really appreciate your feedback.


DEAR A.: This is so cynical my eyebrows frosted. Not that you’re bitter and write people off as heartless, just that you completely omit the heart.

I can only hope you’ve gotten your view of partnership from “10 Things You’re Doing Wrong on Dates” listicles.

I hope this because these are, like any inadequate education, reversible by anyone willing to ask more of themselves. Please start by digging into what you want from women.

If you want companionship, intimacy, mutual support, then quit “dating” and start paying attention to whose company you prefer above all others. Have you ever known someone you were always happy to see walk into a room, even after, to use your phrase, “the novelty wears off”? Has that person been a family member, best buddy or group of friends, but never a woman you were dating or wanted to date?

I suspect that’s the real culprit here, that for whatever reason, you see women as a special category of pairing, independent of all other bonds you have, and resulting from a specialized search.

If so, you’re being so unfair to yourself. A love that satisfies is one that combines much of what is good and rewarding in your other relationships into one source, someone who also has that fuller appreciation of you.

If you love that your buddies allow you to be yourself, that your parents inspire you to do your best, that your grandma knows when you need cookies and a hug versus a treatise, and that you’ve never forgotten your first actual girlfriend because gazing at her got you through algebra, then you just sketched out someone who would fit you. Not a 6, 7, 7 and a 5 who averaged out to an attainable 6.25.

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