My advert was quite clear: I wanted "a slim, non-smoker and single man, preferably under 200 lbs in weight". I weigh 138 lbs so allowing up to an extra 62 lbs in a partner (over 4 stones) was pretty generous, I thought. How many men would look at a 200 lbs woman? Not many, I'm sure! A quick scan of the male personal adverts confirmed this - hardly anyone wanted women who weighed more than 150 lbs! Most desired their soulmates to be under 135 lbs! So there goes at least 90% of women.
I felt sure my clear requirements would weed out the unsuitable ones to avoid time wasting and allow greater choice from those who matched up. Fine hope, as it turned out to be. Men weighing over 210 lbs, fully married and smoking, for good measure, thought they fitted the bill! The general attitude was that I didn't mean what I stated, so they felt they could stop smoking, slim down or even leave their wives for me, as I seemed to be 'worth it'. Glib words masking an air of desperation and a lack of personal standards for something so important as a future partner. Some appeared to expect a woman to accept anyone just because she is single and older. Others thought they'd try their hand at something 'different' and 'exotic'! I was not impressed.
Knowing myself as I do now, I do not stray from my requirements, no matter how appealing the guy might be, simply because I am not prescriptive in my desires. Apart from those three non-negotiables, anyone else is eligible, depending on chemistry. Above all, people are not products so they will not come strictly to order. Sadly, many people seek perfection in partners conveniently ignoring the imperfection that they are. When seeking my own soulmate, I also bear in mind that our personality and perceptions are formed mainly by our background, culture and beliefs. If a person seems wanting in certain key respects, they will remain that way, no matter how much they try to please us. Any change would merely be temporary to get what they want, unless they truly believe the change is beneficial to them.
So I have no desire to change anyone to suit me.
I have gradually discovered that the best partners are those who love and appreciate themselves as they are and who are proud of their personality and identity. If they are appealing to us, true love accepts that person, warts and all. People who are happy inside their own skins are more likely to appreciate others too and make allowances in expectation and behaviour. Better to be who you are: flawed, exciting and happy - than to try to be perfect and unhappy for someone else who might soon get tired of the new, fawning you!
General lack of respect and courtesy
Since I have been seeking a new soulmate, I have noticed a few hidden trends in the mating game, which many people are not even aware of, and which prevent both men and women from finding their ideal partners. There are lots of reasons why people do not hook up together easily, despite the zillions of pubs, dance clubs, dating agencies, mingle parties, speed dating and website opportunities available; reasons which keep people chasing their ideal without ever catching him/her. The main ones seem to be a basic lack of courtesy and social skills. People seeming not quite sure, in our Internet age, of how to approach each other. Common courtesy seems to be escaping many people, women in particular, in responding to approaches. Many professional and articulate women are registered on websites, or they deliberately go to pubs and clubs, to SEEK partners. But despite current emphasis on equality, we still expect men to make the first move.
However, when they overcome their fear and shyness to do so, we tend to give them short shrift, especially if they do not look like the ideal or do not say what we want to hear! Amazing what a simple 'No, thank you, but I am flattered by your interest' can do to let someone down gently and reinforce their value and dignity. More difficult suitors can be kept at bay with the exciting news that you have 'just met someone else and would like to follow that through before pursuing any other interest' ... a favourite for unwanted and persistent attention! They never know if it is true or not but it is a powerful lever to have.
The top need for people of Britain in a Channel 4 TV nationwide poll of 'new commandments' was: 'Treating people the way I wish to be treated'. If we do not expect people to ignore us, to be rude and boorish, we shouldn't act that way ourselves. One insecure 40 year old woman used to criticise all men who made a pass at her, or even said hello. She immediately judged them in all sorts of aspects without ever taking the trouble to simply get to know them first. She was very attractive and got a lot of attention, initially, until the men became discouraged trying to match her impossible standards and general disrespect. 'Courtesy costs nothing, give generously', as they say. Being a positive force, it is guaranteed to make that person's day in some way and reinforce the kind of desirable behaviour we all seek.
However, even worse than courtesy is weak conversational and interactive skills! Men and women, having got more equality down the years, have become more unequal in knowing the rudiments of social protocol and how to treat one another with confidence, courtesy and respect, especially when making the first contact through simple conversation. This is usually stilted and one-sided, with one person talking too much, or hardly any questions being asked. Yet only questions supply answers, not just making statements. A good conversation will not only demonstrate genuine interest but is also an important source for getting to know that person and providing clues to personal preferences which can progress the friendship further.
Overall, though we have more tools for interaction, we seem to have less skills in doing so. Yet knowing ourselves, the courtesy to interact and the skills to connect with another human being are the only elements that will deliver that elusive soulmate.
Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH)
Emotional Health Adviser
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"