Lately single women have been asking me, "John, what do guys want? I'm a pretty, intelligent, good-hearted girl who has a lot to offer any man. But all the men I know or meet invariably end up having some sort of congenital aversion to anything even vaguely resembling long-term emotional commitment---to settling down, getting serious, getting married. Why is that? I'm a fun, sweet person. I make my own money. I have lots of rewarding relationships in my life; I know how to be in a good relationship. I'm a mature, grown-up person. And I'd like to get married someday. Doesn't everyone? Don't guys? Isn't that the whole point---finding that special someone, falling in love, getting married, settling down, having children, growing old together? Isn't all that, like, the Grand Prize of life? Then why is it that if a girl on a date so much as scratches an itch on her ring finger, the guy she's with acts like she's sprayed him with mace? Who do these men think they're going to get involved with, if not one of the women they actually meet? What is it that men want? What in the world are they looking for? Do they even know?"
When women ask me this, I usually answer with, "Do I know you? Anyway, great speech. Tough questions! Well, this is my stop. Good-bye---and good luck!"
But that's not helping anyone. So the next time a woman poses me this puzzler, I'm going to stay on the bus until I've given her my real answer, which is this:
"Men find unappealing in women the same thing women find unappealing in men: Need. People are not attracted to the emotionally needy. (Actually, there are lots of men out there who are attracted to emotionally needy women, but such men---men who seek out women over whom they can exercise power---are dangerous creeps from whom all women should flee.) The fact that you're registering that whatever man you're with is resisting a serious relationship means you're definitely sending that man messages that you do want to be in a serious relationship. That's not good. You might as well hang a sign around your neck that says, 'Desperate! Please Help! At Least Compliment My Hair!'
"You can't live your life waiting for a man to rescue you. Wanting a man to make your life whole is the one thing guaranteed to keep men from you. Because what wanting a man to make your life better means is that you, alone, aren't good enough for you. It means that you find yourself inadequate. It really means---or really signals---that you don't like you. And if you don't like you, why should anyone else? No one knows you better than you do, right? You're the expert on you. If you're not satisfied hanging out with you, why would anyone else think they might be?
"There's only one way to find Mr. Right, and that's to stop looking for him. Looking for Mr. Right can only mean that you think you're Miss Wrong, or Miss Not Quite Good Enough. You're Miss Ing Something. Forget that. Stop worrying about meeting Mr. Right. Instead, start thinking of yourself as Miss Perfectly Okay By Herself. (Isn't it interesting that we use the same word to indicate an unmarried woman as we do 'failure to obtain'? If unmarried women are called 'Miss,' then unmarried men should be called something like 'Flop,' or 'Err.' So, for instance, if single, I would be Err Shore. Which is a lot like the German 'Herr Shore.' Hmm. Perhaps this explains World War II.)
If you really want to find Mr. Right, stop looking for him. Stop, in other words, waiting for someone to give you a life. Get your own life! Prove to the world, and to yourself, that you don't need anyone to make you someone.
Life is one big paradox. And one of its biggest is that the only way to find Mr. Right is to genuinely and truly stop looking for him. Live your life. Get happy. Listen to God. That'll keep you busy enough for this life, and beyond.
Other stuff I've written along these lines: Six Tests to Determine If He's Mr. Right, Surprise (Or Not)! Men Are Spoiled, To Single Women: Men. Don't. Change., Top 10 Tips for Becoming an Ideal Husband, and What's In A Word: The Truth Behind Men's Personal Ads.