Many women in their mid-thirties and beyond find themselves reluctantly single, and begin to panic, believing that time is running out. Will they never meet a life partner? Will they miss out on having children? Finally, help is at hand! Annie Harrison's unique text examines the topic of overcoming singledom, without preaching or patronising, and offers inspirational, revelatory and soul-searching true-life tales of the tumultuous quest for love. Finding Mr Right offers an expert guide, as well as hope, comfort and reassurance, to the thousands of smart women who have been passed over in the love stakes and are still awaiting the one, whose lives are accompanied by the background ticking of their biological clocks. Perspectives are provided by widows of serial monogamists, men and women who are now a happy part of a couple, single parents, divorcees, those who are still waiting for something to happen and those who have decided to have children by themselves. Frank, revealing and sometimes surprising, it provides an illuminating insight on the nature of love and happiness. With articles from journalists, including Mariella Frostrup, Amanda Platell and Toby Young, as well as dating agency owners, fertility experts, academics, agony aunts, relationship psychologists and even mistresses, Finding Mr Right is essential reading for any single woman who wants to find happiness and move her life on.
Annie gives an overview of the book:
Being the ideal woman [chapter head]
You can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights. But foreign travel and domestic yuletide bliss usually come further down the line in a relationship.
Whilst women might have some idea about the kind of man they are attracted to, I thought it only right that we should hear from the fellas their views on the female traits they find most alluring.
In the course of research for this book, I asked over 60 men what they liked about women, and what was important to them when choosing a partner. I also asked them what they found off-putting, particularly in women over 35. The following is a distillation of their thoughts and opinions.
This may sound startlingly obvious, but men prefer ‘real’ women. Of course before he finally settles down, every red-blooded male conjures up notions of his ideal partner. In almost comic-book fantasy he might imagine a half-Swedish, half-Thai, permanently 25-year-old Lara Croft clone with a penchant for stilettos and expensive, slutty cocktail dresses. Plus she would be gifted with super intelligence but would prefer to resolve a fierce debate on the world economic crisis by tumbling into bed for rampant sex.
But men know they won’t end up with this fantasy figure. Inside they are seeking someone who can complement their personality, with whom they connect on an intellectual level and with whom they can carve out a happy and fulfilled life. Their wish list of the ideal woman doesn’t really exist in a serious capacity – a man wants someone who can look in a drawer and find his socks, even ‘though they aren’t there. He wants someone by his side to support him over the years through good and bad times.
Men use an innate homing technique to find their life partner. After travelling through their love life, most men who are now married eventually stopped and thought, ‘Yes, she’s the one.’
When men and women are in their teens and twenties, their desires are more basic. Relationships come and go, and there tends to be a more carefree approach to romance and commitment but as they get older, the stakes are raised dramatically – more so for women. There is a perception that time is running out and they no longer wish to invest so much emotion and energy in a relationship that might, ultimately, fail. While there exists an imperative on the part of women, for men, clocking up years in their late thirties doesn’t seem to bother them so much. They don’t share the same agenda as women and they don’t have a deadline for marriage.
Against an egg-timer backdrop of diminishing time, sadly, some women appear to self-destruct as they reach the end of their thirties – the pressure they put on themselves being all too much. A lot of men out there report off-putting experiences when dating women of a certain age. One can assume most of these women enjoyed normal and generally happy relationships during their twenties, but the years have notched up and they are still single and unhappy about it. However impossible it may sound, I would urge women feeling rising panic about their domestic and emotional future to mask their insecurities and find out what men want. Possessing understanding, empathy and enigma while toning down the verbal, visual and physical assault all make getting to a second date and beyond a better prospect.
We each have our own individual aspirations, identities and tastes, and in researching this book the same messages have been repeated over and over. From this united chorus, which is not research-based, I can only conclude that while a man is attracted by a woman’s unique characteristics and personality, many common similarities are sought when dating ‘women of a certain age’.
So, putting specifics to one side and just concentrating on generalisations, what qualities do men look for in their ideal woman? Below follows a number of points, in no particular order, embellished with comments and emails received from men, offering their opinions on their likes and dislikes of thirtysomething women.
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