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Melissa Balmer
Not too long ago a girlfriend lamented to me "I don't want to meet another Mr. Right Now! I want to meet Mr. Right!" I'll wager that most of you understood her frustration and would agree with her. I don't. Like several women I know, this girlfriend is very attractive (in fact beautiful), and accomplished, and very successful at her career. She owns her own condo. She'd like to start a family soon.

What she doesn't do much, in fact hardly at all, is make an effort at dating men. When she does go out with a man, she often puts very heavy expectations on the date. A fun drink, a nice dinner, a good time at the movies cannot just rest within itself. If enough of his attributes stack favorably against her criteria of "right" she begins to see a nice encounter and a few phone calls as a budding relationship. The guy then begins to feel it's too much too soon, and he stops calling.

Know this routine? I sure do. I'm guilty of behaving this way far too many times to count. But I've finally stopped this behavior, and I've never been happier in my dating life. I actually enjoy dating now. I enjoy getting to know (even very briefly) different men. Why? I decided to go on a quest. I decided to take my own personal love & romance needs seriously enough to find out what they actually are vs. what I always assumed they were. And, very importantly, I stopped taking the act of dating itself so seriously.

The truth we don't like to face is that finding real romance, finding true love, takes serious effort. We've been raised with the notion that romance should be very easy, that it should just fall into our laps. Year after year we're inundated with the myth of the easy romance in both movies and books...their eyes meet across the room and wham, bam, less than two hours later (or a few hundred pages) they're riding off into the sunset, happily ever after. And that's what we want Damn it! We want it quick, and we want it easy.

But what happens, far too often, when we do fall into quick and easy? At first we're in 7th heaven! Buy do we usually end up living happily ever after? No, usually we end up a few weeks, or a few months later, feeling like we've been sold a used lemon when what we thought we were buying a Ferrari. If we're honest, the guy we were dating thinks the same about us.

Mind you, I'm not dissing instant chemistry. What I'm dissing is our need to find instant attachment before we've taken the time and effort to discover who this new person is, and whether or not they'd really be right for us. Guys are okay with "just dating" why can't women be?

We can! It's high time the single female population make peace with the whole dating game. Each new man you meet doesn't have to meet your friends or family right away. You don't have to sleep with anyone if you're not interested or ready. I know it'll take awhile to get use to this new way of thinking. But whenever you find yourself sliding back to your old ways of making each encounter "too important" remember that a watched kettle never boils, just as a watched phone never rings. I'm not putting a judgment on how quickly you sleep with someone either...this is a about your enjoyment of the encounter sister, not ethics or morality (though do practice safe sex, he's not cute enough to die for).

Let's be honest, sex isn't as easy for most women to enjoy as it is for men. We have complicated sexual plumbing that needs quite a bit of finesse to run smoothly and happily. It's just not that easy to let a brand new man know exactly what you need in order to enjoy the encounter as much as they do. You certainly can't do it if your main motivation is being so liked by the guy that he calls you soon!

It's time to see the creation of our own love lives as a fun adventure rather than a cruel disheartening one. It means you have to take the responsibility for getting out there. It means you have to make yourself available to meet the sort of men you'd be interested in. It means your schedule has to be less about efficiency and more about finding ways to have a good time with the opposite sex. It means you have to learn to laugh at yourself and the silly/bad situations you'll end up finding yourself in every once it awhile. Hey, it's okay! It's all about learning what you want and need, not about being perfect.

Before we end for this week I want to make another very important point you need to accept. Great men, nice men, even very cute men, are often very shy! Yes, I know, it's hard to believe but it's true. Does this mean you need to walk up to every cute man you see and ask him out? No, it means you need to find a way to be around these fellows frequently, and give them the space to approach and get to know you a bit (and you them). Trust me, I'm not being old fashioned, and I'm not being "all about the rules", I've learned my lesson and I'm being completely practical. Many men need time to get to know you a bit before gathering up the courage to ask you out.

A very good girlfriend of mine is extremely successful. In fact, she's so successful and her schedule is so packed, that she was going to the gym at 6:00 in the morning. Even though she goes to a very popular gym never saw any man she thought was remotely cute, or even interesting ...until she changed her schedule and started going at 7:30. That's right; an hour and a half has made a huge difference in her life. Now she's constantly being approached by several very attractive men who are obviously curious and want to get to know her. And this time she isn't putting expectations on the encounters. In fact, she's having a great time observing how they're slowly letting her know about their interest in her, and how they've been observing her.

When she recently had to go in for minor surgery and couldn't work out for many weeks two different men came up and asked where she'd been, and remarked to the week how long she'd been gone!

Melissa Balmer

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