Althea Schottman

How to Find Mr. or Ms. Right.

Blue Bells

A Good Man (or Woman) is Hard to Find. It seems that way, doesn't it? Women complain that men don't want to commit; men complain that women judge them by superficial standards.

Both seem to drift into relationships that don't satisfy, and are not really committed. And yet research shows that most men and women still want to marry and raise families. So why the disconnect?

And what can be done about it?

According to John Van Epp, creator of "How to Avoid Marrying A Jerk", this disconnect has to do with three major cultural shifts that have occurred so recently that our customs have not had a chance to catch up.

In the wake of rapid cultural shifts, it is difficult to know what to expect from others--there is a sense of ambiguity about what to do. This, in turn, can lead to confusion and even sometimes social isolation.

The first of these cultural shifts is that of family involvement in mate selection and toward individual choice. Marriage joins two families, creates new family members and relationships.

All members of both families are affected by a couple's marriage choice. Parents are older and wiser, and have an understanding of what marriage is all about. It makes sense, then, that parents would help and guide the young couple in selecting a mate. Our current system of individual choice may give the couple more freedom, but it also leaves the couple more isolated, and without the guidance that parents can give.

The second cultural shift is that of physical and cultural discontinuity for greater numbers of people. Like attracts like, and having a common background makes a built-in compatibility between people. But now it is typical to leave home and community to go to school, find work, and travel. Meeting and interacting with people from a lot of different backgrounds is challenging and exciting. At the same time, it makes it more difficult to attract someone and evaluate their character, values and intentions.

The third great cultural shift is that of changing social mores. Expectations concerning sex, dating and a host of other behaviors have gone through rapid change in just the last 20 to 30 years.

  • Does living together mean an intention to marry, or an intention to maintain status quo?
  • Is it permissible to date more than one person at a time?
  • How do you judge your partner's expectations?
  • How valid are your expectations, and how can you express your own needs?

These questions are modern questions and reflect a modern uncertainty about relationships. Many young people cling to a partner with whom there is no commitment for the sake of security--sometimes called a mini-marriage.

Although easy, this offers no promise for the future.

All of these shifts reflect a movement away from group, to individual identity. They bring with them an individual freedom, but leave a cultural void. Still--the desire to love and be loved, to commit, to connect, to create and procreate are deeply felt human needs and desires. Most young people still say that they want to marry and raise a family. This puts a responsibility on each person to fill the void left by these shifts. That means being proactive.

To be proactive means to be the chooser, not only of a mate, but of building a satisfying life. Being a chooser means articulating your values, goals, needs, and seeking out a partner that shares your values. Perhaps this means joining a faith community, social group, sports group, or several of these to form friendships and interdependencies. Good friends, both young and old, male and female, enrich life, and could be in a position to introduce you to that certain someone.

Consider a life coach to help you through the process of finding a mate. A coach can act as a special kind of friend who has your best interests at heart. And don't forget your parents. Who knows--they might just be on your side, wanting your happiness and able to give you some insights that will help you find that perfect mate.

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Copyright 2005 Project Seven Development