In the meantime, many have taken a more clinical approach including my friend and me who are making up our own rules.
About this columnist:
You know how one minute you're in a happy and fulfilling marriage and the next you find out that your husband of 20 years has been cheating on you with someone 10 years younger? Well I do. I went from country club wife and mother of high school students to a single, 39-year-old “cougar.” In this weekly feature, I will share with you all the mind-boggling, head-scratching, is-this-someone's-idea-of-a-joke moments from my so-called single life. Consider this your private invitation to my tremendous learning curve…
My single friend and I recently took a trip into the wilderness, where we had lots of time to contemplate why we keep getting in these relationships that seem to have a fair amount of promise in the beginning and quickly derail a few months later.
We decided that we both have this uncanny knack for looking past glaring red flags because we think a guy is hot, funny and (most disturbing) because we think he needs us. Needless to say, that hasn't been panning out too well for us. Interestingly enough, she and I have dated and tried to be in a relationship with the same guy, so our dating background is eerily similar.
What my friend and I discovered was we needed to recognize and most importantly, not look past, glaring red flags. For example, if a guy has been married three times, has five kids but only has a relationship with two of them, that's a red flag. If a guy hasn't gotten a divorce after being separated for two years, that's a red flag. If he gets a separate phone to talk to you so his estranged wife won't find out — you guessed it, redis flagis (that's Latin for "red flag").
We devised a brilliant plan whereby we would make a list of the things that are really important to us, weighing each thing with a point system. If we rated something a two, that meant it was kind of important, but if something was rated a five that meant it was a deal breaker. But here is the best part…
We knew making this list wasn't enough because we both had a track record of looking past fundamental qualities when we felt giddy about someone. What we needed was accountability. To keep each other honest and out of bad relationships, we traded lists. If we meet someone new, the other person has to whip out the list and make sure that Mr. Wonderful measures up to what is important to us deep down, when we aren't under some guy's spell.
So far, we haven't needed the list mostly because both of us are just enjoying a guy-free life right now. And in truth, perhaps just making the list made us more aware of what is important to us and what we are not willing to look past. It's reassuring to know that we both have a safety net in place if we need it.
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