am I being judgmental?

Two things, really:

One. It was recently suggested to me that I was being judgmental. Okay, so if I’m completely honest, it’s not the very first time the word has been used to describe me. Yet I’ve never identified with the description. Certainly I’m opinionated (and vocal). Certainly I’m pretty convinced about what’s right for me (which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the moment or situation). Certainly I know what I like. But I would never describe myself as judgmental. (In fact, my Myers-Briggs type includes P for perceiving, not J for judging.) Also, I think most who know me would agree that I befriend all kinds of people. Rather than hanging in cliques, I’ve most often been a part of groups of misfits, a motley bunch of mates of all sizes, shapes, colors and personalities. While there’s a very distinct physical and psychographic “type” of guy to whom I’m attracted, I have literally dated every imaginable sort of fellow:  tall, short, thin, obese, bald, hairy, intellectual, dull, artsy, rich, poor, fulfilled, empty, solid, neurotic…and I’ve been drawn to each one by some unique quality. So I don’t think the description of me as judgmental can stick, even if it appears to fit for a moment or more. Ultimately, it’s not a description that sees the full picture. But I suppose it might describe a momentary mood or short-lived behavior.

Two. I reactivated my online dating profile for a moment to take a peek at what new men might have come aboard. My intent was to pop in and then right back out if I didn’t see anything too compelling. After all, I need to focus on my new job and my children just now. But the site won’t allow me to deactivate my profile again for a week. Yikes! …so, I’ve gotten a couple of messages, including one from a fellow who might appear to be a compelling match. And he’s articulate, which has been a rather larger hurdle than you might think. (Again, one needs to be able to keep a conversation going…) And I’d normally consider meeting this fellow in person. But then I looked and saw that his annual income is half (actually less than) mine.

Again, in the past, I would not have thought twice about going out with him. What harm could it do? But now, having lived through a situation in which I supported a man (and might have been reasonably happy in said situation had certain other conditions been met), I just don’t think it’s possible. Here’s my truth now:  I live in a city, a metropolitan area. Given a mortgage and a car payment and two children, there’s a certain level of income required to live even moderately well (which is to say, to not want to tear out one’s hair at the stress of wondering how to stay afloat). And this gentleman, no matter how kind and loving and supportive he might be, is just not at a level of income that could support a family…not that I’m suggesting any man should support me and my children. I’m forty. I’m independent. And it’s no longer a matter of potential, as it was in our twenties. I’m simply no longer willing to put myself into a situation wherein I’m carrying most of the financial weight for a man. Even if he’s the greatest guy on the planet or the best possible match for me. Even if he’s the most supportive and loving human alive. Even if he’s well-balanced and does something like saving animals or teaching children with special needs. I’m simply being practical. I want a mate whose pay is something a tad closer to parity. So I’m thinking that I will likely decline his invitation to meet solely because of his income…

Is that so wrong? Or am I being judgmental?

resonance vs. dissonanace

The human mind makes countless judgements in the blink of an eye, the high-tech matter between the ears filtering what’s important and what’s not. We notice, determine and discern, consciously and unconsciously processing information for relevance, significance or congruence.

As it relates to dating, we notice little things about the folks we meet and add them to evidence for or against our potential or compatibility. We’re searching for clues, for resonance or dissonance. I wrote of that cosmic call-and-answer phenomenon I experienced when I met more-like-it. This is a great example of resonance, cues that I’m getting closer to attracting the kind of man I’d like in my life. I use this information to get even more specific.

For example, my list doesn’t specify what type of car my future mate should drive, yet I find I notice and interpret. I like a nice ride, and I suspect my guy also has an appreciation for foreign engineering. I’m not going to add this sort of thing to my list, but it resonates with me. (Let’s not discuss that my foreign-make luxury sedan is rusting and 15-years-old.)

Also, based on the kinds of conversations and emotional maturity level of the various guys I’ve met, I think I share a greater resonance with divorced men who have children. They seem a little more introspective and…well…humble. I’m not going to rule out a man who’s never been married nor had children; right now I just find it easier to relate to guys who’ve gone through something similar to what I’ve been through. Perhaps I won’t feel the same way in a few months or years.

If you look at the stats (50% of first marriages end in divorce; 70% of second marriages end in divorce), then I should probably reconsider. Marrying a guy who’s never been married could at least improve my odds by 10%, right? Bring it right on down to 60% chance of divorce. Now that’s winning!

I was once telling a friend about the lobbyist. I scoffed at the idea of even flirting with him, until my friend pointed out, “How do you know who can love you best?” It’s a good question. Maybe the man who will love me best is an actuary or a litigator…but it’s certainly easier to envision having a relationship with someone who shares a certain intellectual or career resonance, as well. (And by resonance, I’m leaning toward compatibility, understanding, rather than sameness.)

So…is all this an exercise in intellectual laziness? Am I looking in the mirror and trying to find someone just like me? Or are these clues to finding a match and a sense of belonging real?

Ideally, I’d like to think there’s someone out there with whom I share plenty in common, but who can also stretch my mind, imagination and sense of what’s possible, just as I hope to do for him.