Finding Mr. Right in the wrong package

After dating for a while, you refine what you want and don’t want in your next relationship. Your criteria get clearer and you get more certain about what will make you happy. Often these criteria include a person’s physical characteristics like height, or location or age range. I have clarified my criteria over the years and now rarely deviate from them.

But every once in a while a man enters the scene who doesn’t meet one of my must-haves.  Perhaps he’s an inch shorter than me so I relax my “must be at least my height” rule. Or perhaps he lives beyond an hour’s drive. Or he’s out of my 7 year+/- age range. He has other unique alluring characteristics that entice me to make an exception.  

However I’ve never bent the rules for more than one must-have.

Until now.

A few months ago a man contacted me who is 19 years my junior, lives a plane ride away, and is 5 inches shorter. I responded to his initial email with “thanks but no thanks.” His follow up email was alluring. We began emailing, then messaging, then calling as we developed a connection long distance. Then last week I was in his city so we met.

When he got out of his car to greet me I saw how short he was. When we hugged hello I had to bend down. How would this ever work?

But he was unfazed. He was comfortable in his own skin and height. He was confident in who he was and it showed repeatedly from his ever-present wide grin, to his healthy eye contact, to his immediately holding my hand. Despite my reservations about his lack of my must-haves he was adorable. It was alluring.

I tried not to look in the windows when we walked down the street so I didn’t have to see that I was half a head taller. I could easily kiss the top of his bald pate. Since he was so much younger and shorter I was concerned people would think he was my son.

But those thoughts quickly dissipated as we talked about topics of interest to both of us and his humor made me frequently laugh. And it didn’t hurt that he told me often how he adored me.

He was respectful and assertive. He was more emotionally mature than men I’ve dated 25 years his senior. I liked how he treated me and how I felt around him. In between our seeing each other on this trip, he texted to see what I was up to and remembered small details about my day and life.

So I’ve begun to ponder how life would be with this man. I reassured myself that Nicole Kidman wasn’t bothered to be taller than Tom Cruise. Stacy Keibler doesn’t seem to mind that she towers over George Clooney (I’d overlook that one, too, for him!). There are many examples of it not being a big deal. Could I learn to live with this? Was I being shallow by even thinking it is an issue?

Since I’m tall, light skinned, voluptuous and have tons of hair, I’ve joked that in a previous life I was a short, bald, thin, dark-skinned man so I wanted to come back the opposite. Guess what — he looks like that previous life guy! So maybe we have some soul connection.

Whether there is or not, it’s been fun to get to know an accomplished, interesting, fun man who’s forcing me to reexamine my must-have criteria. Maybe Mr. Right is in the right package and I just need to accept whatever that package is.

Have you fallen for someone who didn’t meet your basic must-haves? How did it work out?

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11 comments on this post.
  1. Brenda:

    I only had five items on my must-have list – none of them physical. If so, I may not have married my hubby as he has a bigger tummy than I would like BUT he met my five criteria EXCEPTIONALLY WELL. He happens to be 4 inches taller than I am, but I dated men who were shorter quite often and that was never an issue. A critical spirit was an immediate heave-ho even if the man had the other characteristics I was seeking.

    I know that for several years, I had a really long list of “must-haves” which may have kept me from considering really wonderful men who were vertically challenged or did not have the washboard abs, etc, but have SO MUCH MORE going on.

    Best wishes to you, DG!

  2. Almita:

    Our “must-haves” are must-haves for a reason. While I agree that height is inconsequential, other must-haves like age/stage in life and distance can have big impacts on a relationship.

    I am 44 years old, and I already have a 20 year age range on my matches (-5 years/+15 years). I know that much younger men are just at a different place in life than I am in terms of career, marriage, and especially, children. While I might stretch that age requirement one or two years for an exceptional match, in general, it seems to work.

    I dated a man once who lived 100 miles from me. However, he expected me to drive to his location every time we met. He was also averse to calling me on the phone because of the long distance charges. Therefore, he only wanted to communicate via Internet. I really want someone who will be a part of my everyday life, not just an Internet penpal. Now, if a man outside my distance range contacted me, I would think it would be up to him to do most of the traveling since I had already indicated that I preferred to meet someone who lives closer to me. I wonder, DG, when is your guy planning to come visit you?

  3. Brenda:

    Almita, you have a really good point about distance. I had the same experiences you did with a men who lived farther away. Because of my custody arrangement and my two teen sons, one of my must-haves was “fairly close’ to where I reside. I was not able to travel to visit a man, and while a few came to see me, they ultimately expected that I would leave my practice and settle down in their area – and for many reasons, I could not do so, so I finally narrowed the distance criteria way down.

    On the other hand, my girlfriend met a man on the internet who had an internet-based business, so when they married, he moved out of state to her town, brought one of his children still in high school, (she had three still in high school/college) and their marriage is superb. He had the ability to move – she did not, due to custody issues.

    DG, would either one of you be able to move to the other’s city/state if things worked out?

  4. Lisa:

    It is nice you met someone you like DG! I am short, so I never really think about the height thing too much, but I can see where it might feel strange to date someone shorter than you. I hope he turns out to be generous and loving and fun. Goodness knows, men like that are in short supply!

    For me personally, I have sometimes tried to bend my “must be good with language” requirement a little and meet up with men who send poorly written e-mails, use bad grammar when they speak, etc. because they seem on some level like they are nice guys and I think “heh, you never know,” but it never works out. The conversation never seems to have any depth or go anywhere. It is certainly not a “must must have”–I try to be flexible in my thinking– but there has to be something to work with.

    I don’t care if a man only has a high school diploma, but he has to be good with words and be curious about language. Be he short or be he tall, his way with words will say it all. But then again, maybe I will find myself someday with an lol’er. Unlikely, but….you never know! lol..

  5. Dating Goddess:

    Thanks for all your comments.

    Yes, the long-distance thing may be too much to overcome. He says he’s working on a plan to take some vacation days w/in the next month to come see me. I won’t go see him before he goes to that effort, even though I could because my business is flexible and I can work anywhere. But he has to jump through that hurdle.

    And Lisa, I’m with you entirely about he has to be good with words. This one is, which is part of his allure.

    Almita — I know what you mean about being in different places in life. That does give me some pause. This one doesn’t want children, so that’s not an issue. But I like to travel — I just got back from 6 weeks abroad — and he has a job that won’t allow for that. A man closer to my age may be semi or fully retired so would have the time and means to travel.

    Right now, I’m just enjoying what is and seeing what transpires. It doesn’t mean I’ve taken myself off the market. Just that I’m enjoying getting to know this guy.

  6. dani:

    wow, that’s very interesting. I’m curious to know more specifics about how this guy managed to meet you initially even though he met none of your criteria

  7. Shawn:

    I find myself changing up some of my ‘must-haves’ as I continue through relationships. Especially now I have added internet dating to my “places to pull from” repertiore.

    I have a very broad spectrum when it comes to physical traits, but I am more fixed on education level, adventurous spirit, positive outlook, things of this nature are my deal-makers or breakers.

    I think it sounds like this gentleman is more than big enough in many areas to compensate for his height. Sometimes a very tall man can walk very low beside us.

  8. Judith Joshel:

    I so appreciate this blog! I am a divorce attorney/mediator turned dating coach and I find that so many women simply won’t look at a man who doesn’t fit certain strict requirements, whether it’s height, age, profession, whatever. They really need to hear from someone like you that they need to loosen up on their requirements and give more men a chance. You just never know who Mr. Right is going to be & it’s self-sabotaging to reject him before you even get a chance to get to know him. You’re doing a great service for women!!

  9. tracy:

    In my opinion nothing else matters but what your heart feels, nobody can say before the time what characters they want in their life partners. You can use those characteristics as a guideline but once you meet Mr Right, all those criteria goes flying out the window

  10. Johnny Boy:

    Interesting isn’t it when we meet someone who doesn’t live up to our expectations (in your case, the height factor).

    I’m curious though, have you ever made a list of what you want in a partner?

    You might have stuff in your head from previous relationships, but I guess a list would help make things a big more clear. Would love to read a blog post of yours with “your list” and maybe to see how it “measures up” when you meet short guys like this. :-)

  11. Sef:

    So you finally met Martin Scorsese. Good for you. :)

    When you break up, please send him my way. :D

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