Jilly and I occasionally have these very heartfelt conversations about relationships. I usually feel lighter afterwards, like I’ve shaken off a few hundred pounds of expectations and ideals and other such annoying things. We talk about the men we’ve dated, the men we’ve wanted to date, and the men we see ourselves eventually ending up with when it’s all said and done.

I think the reason I love these conversations so much is that we’re both in the same place in our lives – we’re both on dating breaks and assessing what we want from relationships and I can say crazy things and know that she won’t judge me for it or tell me I need to settle down because I’m not getting any younger. It’s just two women venting into the ether of an apartment and usually, if it’s been a particularly interesting week, we have glasses of something decidedly alcoholic and wonderful in front of us.

In complete opposition to these conversations, I had someone at my office tell me a year or so ago that I needed to settle down, that I was quickly approaching thirty and therefore becoming less desirable. After I pulled my pencil out of his eye (I kid, I swear), I explained to him in terms that I knew even a five year old could understand that if my love life was any of his business, I’d ask for his opinion and that he should probably keep his antiquated thoughts to himself.

I may or may not have punctuated my sentence with “jackass”.

To be honest, I haven’t “settled” because I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet (you’re singing that U2 song now, aren’t you?). I wouldn’t settle for a pair of shoes or an apartment or a career, so why should I settle for a boyfriend or husband? What kind of sense does that make? If you settle for a pair of shoes and they’re not actually what you’re looking for, you’ll continue to look and you’ll eventually give those other shoes away to Goodwill because you don’t wear them because they’re not what you wanted in the first place.

And yes, that metaphor just happened. Shoes and men go hand-in-hand, or at least they do for the purposes of this post.

So why settle, only to find myself miserable a few years down the road and instead of enjoying that time, I would feel as though I’d wasted it with the wrong person? I know that by not “settling” I may end up alone, but would that really be so wrong? Would I be a terrible person if I chose to live alone rather than with the wrong person?

There are certain members of my extended family who, quite possibly, would call me a terrible person…or at least a crazy one. I don’t get along with them anyway, so meh.

So Jilly and I, a few weeks ago, started talking about our ideal guys – the guys we could see ourselves ending up with, respectively. I’ve dated a range of men – from a bartender to a fireman, from a musician to a scientist – and I’ve come to realize via those experiences that I date opposite my type.

See, I like funny, intelligent, rugged men. Well-read fishermen or carpenters. Men who are good with their hands and who wouldn’t leave me to my own devices in a bar fight, even if I had been the one to start it (by accident, because with my track record that would probably happen).

I’m a simple girl from a mountain town – fancy cars, expensive suits, and ivy league degrees do not impress me or make me swoon. I like old pickup trucks from the 1950s, jeans and t-shirts, intelligence that isn’t just from a book. I drink scotch and bourbon and good beer and I can hold my own on all of them.

I’d say I can even fix my own car, but it would be a lie and a boldfaced one at that. I can barely change the windshield wipers.

So in these last three months, while I’ve been thinking and ruminating and spending a few hours a week on this six month project of mine, I’ve managed to come up with this: what I want from my next relationship is for it to last longer than a day, for it to be healthy and warm, for it to be monogamous, and for the guy I date to actually like me.

That last one is probably key.

And, to be honest, it would be nice if he knew how to fly fish. But that might be pushing it…

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Putting aside her commitment to the National Ninja Association, this young, bright and talented author has finally come out of hiding. She currently exhausts her brain capacity working for government, but spends many afternoons dreaming up new ideas for her incredibly blasphemous novel, The Absolutely, Positively, True Adventures of a Religious Prophet, while keeping her typing fingers limber. She can be reached here on the comment board or over at her blog, The Unbelievable Adventures of Claire Elizabeth Rogers.

49 responses to “The Fundamental Reason is Thus: Because I’m Calling the Shots 
This Time”

  1. Spot on my dear. Do not settle for the sake of settling down.
    p.s. Your pool of ideal men may increase dramatically if you come to Montana. Just sayin’ …

  2. Judy Prince says:

    Of course you know, Meghan, that fly-fishing is key—-and it’ll be the glue of love~~~~~well, depending on how many or how few flies you catch, natch.

    I was totally thick with this essay all the way through. Loved the Jilly-and-you experience—-the freeing, wild, confession-without-penance, goofy downtime that’s not got any other way.

    The guy who needs Victor Zion’s eyeball surgery surely is in love with you or he wouldn’t mess with you so. Like pulling a girl’s pigtail in elementary school. Do tell him you’re totally in love with him, and tell him in many different creative ways. Use your fly-fishing brain. If he can’t manage complex, balletic, elegant physical moves (eye-hand coordination etc), then you must teach him. He will be your next 6-month project. It’ll take that long because of his one-eyed approach.

    Oh, and here’s a revision of your sentence “what I want from my next relationship is for it to last longer than a day, for it to be healthy and warm, for it to be monogamous, and for the guy I date to actually like me.”

    Re-vision: “What I want from the man I love is for him to be the permanent bait on my hook.”

    U go!!!!!!

    • Meg says:

      Jilly and I are free spirits, wild and goofy. We have t-shirts that say so! Thank you for reading and I loved the re-vision – except no bait or hooks in fly-fishing. Just crazy tied flies made from things I don’t like to think about. 🙂

      • Judy Prince says:

        Shows how much I know about fly-fishing, Meghan. Do you mean actual real prolly alive FLIES? YAK! What do you do, wind a bit of nylon thread around them or through them?

        Here’s the deal, then: If any man would tie your flies (!!), then you’re obliged to marry him.

        • Meg says:

          Hahahaha not *real* flies! Flies made of deer hair and glue and metal hooks. They’re ugly, but brook trout love them. 🙂

          I do think, however, that if a single man of a good age tied me some flies I would, indeed, be obliged to marry him…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Meg, here’s the skinny from the UK on fly fishing: They catch May flies (which are, apparently, very big) and wind them round with nylon thread or something like it. The whole point of the winding is to NOT kill them, but keep them wiggling around to attract the fish.

          Come on over here to England and we’ll get a fly fisherman to tie those May fly babies to your pole! After which, natch, dear Rodent and I will be witnesses at your wedding.

          Ah, the wonders of May fly romance.

          If you ever get a chance to see David Ives’ 10-minute play starring two May flies—-do go and you’ll hoot a lot. Ives is a brilliant comic playwright.

  3. Jess says:

    There’s so much to reply to here that instead if writing you a novel, I’m just going to say yes! No one should settle. I don’t care what age you are. Sometimes finding someone who loves you for you, and who gets you takes awhile. It’s not a race.

    On another note, the men to shoe metaphor is perfectly acceptable. What you put on your feet is important! And tell whoever said that to you in your office to prepare for an a$$ kicking (or at least my attempt at a roundhouse kick).

    • Meg says:

      I can see you, in my head, attempting a roundhouse kick and either landing it perfectly or landing your backside perfectly on the floor. Either is a possibility. 😀

      You are wise, Yoda. Wise beyond your years!

  4. Simon Smithson says:

    Isn’t it awesome when you like the people you date, and they like you? I think that’s the jackpot, really.

    Maybe you should make yourself a checklist, or at the very least, a brief sketch on a cocktail napkin. Then you’d probably get some awesome montage scene out of it.

    • Meg says:

      I’ve always wanted a montage scene in my life. I think this particular one would have to be set to the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (for my love)”.

      I have, unfortunately, dated people I didn’t really like and I know I’ve dated men who didn’t really like me, or at least who didn’t respect me. No more of that, though. I don’t care if I have to trek to the wilds of Canada to find him, the next guy I date won’t be a douche.

      I hope!

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Yeah, I’ve done the same. I think just about everyone has. And isn’t Ryan Reynolds from Canada? Maybe he has a brother?

        Montage scenes are the best thing ever.

        • Meg says:

          Oh god, that would be fabulous. And if he was just as good looking? I’d be all over that like a fat kid on cake.

          I sometimes wish my life was videotaped just so I could have the occasional montage scene to watch.

        • Teagan says:

          Ryan Reynold’s brother is a card carrying member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Also: married. Don’t ask how I know. Chalk it up to General Canadian Awareness, yes?

        • Meg says:

          All the good ones are either taken or gay or hiding….love the General Canadian Awareness. 😉

        • Teagan says:

          Taken, gay, hiding … or Canadian? Huh. I need to get out more.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Isn’t it awesome when you like the people you date, and they like you? I think that’s the jackpot, really.

      What’s this fantasy land you live in, Simon?


    • Dana says:

      Simon Smithson: Professor Profundity


  5. Gloria says:

    Good for you! Stick with it! Don’t settle!

    I highly recommend shaving your head.

    Good luck with this – and keep rolling your eyes at the pedantic, old school dumb-dumbs.

  6. Grand High Priest of Hermenutics, Religions, and Pickle Hats says:

    Official Proclamation: I like you.

    Learned commentary on proclamation:
    But not in an “Boy now I’m uncomfortable because I know he’s married and we’ve never actually met, but when I think about him he’s always wearing flannel, wrestling a bear with one hand and chainsaw carving with the other, while baring his soul to me” type of way.

    • Meg says:

      Aw, I like you too. I have thought of you wrestling a bear, but more in the carnival sense and the bear was trained. Chainsaws are dangerous, especially to trees.

      I have a line on a new pickle hat – I’ve sent the specs to your administrative assistant. Check your inbox.

  7. Mo says:

    It would be far easier if some men could just be dropped off at Good Will. 🙂

    Actually, that checklist idea is a good one… just to keep on track, though it sounds like you’re there already. (PS. We are going to bars, until this inevitable bar brawl occurs.)

    Great post, Meg. You rock, even if U2 is now in my head.

    • Meg says:

      I should check with the Goodwill on Snowden, see if they have a bin for outdated romances. There’s a hilarious SNL sketch in there somewhere, I know it!

      The bar brawl is, unfortunately, inevitable. Just ask Jilly – she wants no part of it and she’s threatened to leave me behind if I accidentally start one. Jessica wants to start one on purpose – she’s a scrapper.

      “Cause I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…” 🙂

  8. Thomas says:

    I don’t like that it’s called settling. Everyone is right for someone out there, even if it’s not you. (And I’m not trying to be daft – I actually believe this.) While certain things should never be tolerated – neglect, abuse – that still leaves most of humanity out fumbling around, hoping that through chemicals and accidents we’ll all meet someone to love.

  9. Teagan says:

    *heaves a giant sigh* A ‘shoes and boys’ metaphor? I can’t decided if I should be very sad or make a further comment about stilettos. But, then again, I wear orthotics, so …. you win. 🙂

    I agree, re: settling, both down and for, and find it interesting that all the pressure for you to settle down and carve out a piece of the traditional American Family pie comes from outside sources – and a male one at that. I read a great piece last week where a woman speaks to her own type of happiness, with a child who has needs beyond that of a mainstream childhood experience, and what ‘happy’ means from moment to moment in her world. Happy isn’t the same for everyone, and, even at my Young Age (shut up) I get the ‘oh, find a nice boy and be happy together!’ from my family, trying to get me to stay in the Jello mold that is the accepted progression of life for a woman. (How’s THAT for a old-timey metaphor?) What if I just want to travel and hang out with friends? Who says that won’t make me happy?

    Maybe the trick isn’t being happy – maybe the trick is knowing what you want, but also knowing enough not to immediately dismiss that which falls outside The Lines. I have a box full of crayons that prove outside the lines is pretty great.

    • Meg says:

      Shoes and jell-o molds and crayon boxes, oh my!

      And you are young – you’re younger than me! I’ve often wondered if I would just be happy traveling and hanging out with friends…I think it may be a stage I’ll go through in a couple of years. I’ve also wondered if I’d look good blonde…

      And you’re absolutely correct, my dear – happiness *isn’t* the same for everyone and I wish more people would understand that (and by more people, I mean the smug marrieds on my mother’s side of the family).


      • Teagan says:

        What can I say – I make magic with words. 🙂

        I am young – which in some ways, makes it worse. You feel like you have less room to make stupid mistakes that fall outside The Lines because that might screw up your chance for Happiness, whatever it might be down the line. I’m well outside the age where my family would dismiss impetuous behaviour as being part of growing, but I feel like that’s what is missing. Maybe blonde would be good for both of us?

        Smug marrieds. Who are they trying to convince, us, or themselves? (Ohhhhh, role reversal!)

        • Meg says:

          Do they have “That 70s Show” in Ontario? I want to make a Donna reference here about going blonde, but I don’t want you to get confused by your American friend’s pop culture know-how… 😀

          The psychologist in me loves the role reversal comment!

  10. Jillian says:

    You know, after reading this I have yet again found that you have somehow managed to sum up all of our thoughts and conversations into a meaningful and yet concise package. I love it!

    I wanted to say something about having all the guys I date read this at some point to see if they comprehend it….but I can’t seem to find a way of saying it without sounding like a bit of a bee-otch or just plain weird….

    In fact I feel that I sound just plain weird in many of my comments on your posts.

    • Meg says:

      If only everyone knew how hilarious our conversations were in real life. It’s time we made that travel/reality/cooking show we’ve been talking about for years!

      I don’t think the guys we’ve dated *could* comprehend this…hence why the verb is past tense. 🙂 We’ll find them somewhere…perhaps the Azores…or Dubai…or somewhere really exotic like Maine.

      Love you, Jilly!

  11. Joe Daly says:

    Nicely done, Meghan. There’s no shame in making choices that imbue you with esteem and peace. Making bad choices, simply for the sake of making a choice, seems to provide neither.

    I used to declare self-imposed “breaks” in dating, but I realized that it was just a baldly ineffective way of pretending like I was in control of my situation. Hey, no one can reject you when you’re taking a break, right? At the same time, if the right person were to materialize during such a break, I would immediately declare the break to be over, having taken the time I needed to move forward. In reality, I was just afraid that when I wasn’t dating, it was because I was somehow defective, and when I was dating, I was going in the wrong direction.

    Now I just take it as it comes and make choices that work for me. Good luck!

    • Gloria says:

      “In reality, I was just afraid that when I wasn’t dating, it was because I was somehow defective, and when I was dating, I was going in the wrong direction.”

      What an odd relief to discover men feel this too. 🙂

    • Dana says:

      Meghan, I chuckled as I read your post, because until you got to the fly fishing request, I was picturing Dan Conner (John Goodman – Roseanne) as your perfect mate*. Who were YOU picturing? With the fly fishing addition he immediately turned into a hybrid of Brad Pitt and Robert Redford.

      Good luck on your next relationship, wherever and whenever he is.

      *Not that there’s anything wrong with Dan/John. He always seemed pretty lovable.

      • Meg says:

        Hahahaha I love John Goodman, but definitely not in a date him/marry him kind of way. I was picturing Lucas Bryant – he’s my new TV crush. I dated a guy in college for a short while who was a Brad Pitt/Robert Redford hybrid and he fly fished, but we wanted different things and we graduated and went separate directions. I think about him sometimes and wonder how is, where he is.

  12. Mindy Mcready says:

    Shut down the internet and there would be more men available.They would all stumble outside look up at electrical lines. Then have that eureka moment “I think I’ll go fishing”.

  13. Roxane Stafford says:

    Wish I didn’t identify so much with this; I would add though, what happens when you meet that monogamous guy, who loves you for you, is rugged, but lacks interest, organically, in ideas or creative outlets, has dogmatic political and religious views, so that after 10 minutes every conversation comes down to…what store has ribeye steaks on sale. That’s me. Good Luck.

  14. Lora Grillo says:

    Fly fishing sounds cool. Those rubber pants that people have to wear are a few steps beyond the dating world.

    That “jackass” guy at the office with women’s biological clock around is his neck like Flavor Flave? He is probably addicted to internet porn and cheating on his wife via facebook. just saying…

  15. Carrie says:

    I loved this piece, Meg. The whole thing-minus fly-fishing-guy- definitely resonates with me. I have been on a self-imposed break for so long, that I don’t even have to worry about crossing paths with that guy who like me for me. I’m trying to put my hiatus on hiatus, but at this point I think I’m dealing with a full-on phobia!
    I applaud your list and think settling is ridiculous. Even at 32 when I’m feeling like the only singleton on the planet. Mostly. Oh, and I’m very jealous of the Meg/Jilly duo. There’s just something about having someone along on the same journey. Or at least sharing the bottle of wine. So you don’t end up sick. Or starting fights in bars!

  16. Marni Grossman says:

    “I like…Men who are good with their hands and who wouldn’t leave me to my own devices in a bar fight.”

    I wonder what it says about me that I’m not at all interested in having a man fight on my behalf. That I’m attracted to the type who would skedaddle at the first mention of violence…

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