The Important Things

Since I was thrown (involuntarily) back into the dating pool after a 20-year marriage, I've been trying to define what I want in a guy. Economic status (financially secure, ambitious)? Social status (lifestyle, education)? Intelligence? Chemistry? Caring?

I've read a lot of dating advice and self-help books, but going out with new people didn't come easy. I never felt like I could simply be myself. I tried online dating and joining a group that planned activities for singles, but still, it always felt like work.

Then I met someone, and we immediately connected—like we'd known each other for years, but with the zing of something new. The sex turned out to be awesome.

But . . . his family history is pretty screwed up, and he's having financial trouble. He hasn't asked me for help, and he's mainly where he is because he's a really nice guy who made a couple of bad choices and coped with harrowing circumstances outside my personal experience.

So, I'm having to ask myself some hard questions. . . . Does what you need from your "significant other" change over time and become less based on the socioeconomic and more on less tangible but important things like empathy, honesty, caring, and commitment? Does my guy have to be ambitious and successful? (It didn't make me happy last time.) If he wasn't ambitious and successful, would that be OK? I should probably mention that I have a stable career and make over $60K annually.

I'm starting to think it would be OK. That him being responsible enough to work and meet his obligations would be enough. I'm not ready for a full role reversal, but I'm not even sure I'd completely rule that out. What do you think? Have you seen these kinds of relationships work when the emotional, mental, and physical connections were strong?

Happy and Somewhat Giddy in Tacoma

I have a friend whose mom is always gassing on about how my pal should find herself a rich man. Never mind that marrying a wealthy guy backfired for Mama; she's old school and still sees the knight in shining Mercedes as the cure for what ails you. Traditionally, women allegedly sought out men who would be good providers. (Men, on the other hand, allegedly looked for women of good breeding stock—i.e., hot, young broads—but we're not talking about men today.)

Having a guy who could pay all the bills was important back when women weren't viable members of the workforce or if they planned on staying home, raising a passel of brats. But you have a good job, so your bills are paid. What are you gonna do— pay them twice? I don't think so. The fact is, most of my girlfriends are better earners than their husbands or boyfriends, and for the most part, they seem like a happy bunch of clams.

Kindness is a virtue very much undervalued by people negotiating the murky waters of the dating pool. Though I've certainly had questionable motivations behind dating certain men (nice ass, pretty brown eyes), money was never one of them. While my current boyfriend earns more than I do (making less would be a trick), I started dating him because he is nice and goofy (and cute). He also laughs at my jokes, which counts for a lot, as most boyfriends past would look at me like I'd coughed up a turd if I dared say something funny. Though we do have our problems, I can count on him to get up in the middle of the night and bring me aspirin or rub my shoulders if they hurt. Did I neglect to mention that he's also an amazing lay? Yeah, that too.

OK, so we have kindness, hot fuck action . . . what else? A car would be nice, but trustworthiness rates higher on my list. It's fun to go out with a guy who dresses well, but I'd rather have one who smelled good. The bottom line is, if everything else is in order, what's the problem with him making a little less money?

BTW, your letter is a textbook example of someone asking a question they already have answered in their head.

Need answers? Write Dategirl at or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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