I just have a few (modest) he is potential boyfriend material criteria. No, not
for my happily married self but for my teenage daughter. Any boy under consideration must have these qualities: responsible,
respectful and not have a tongue piercing. Extra points if he can manage to look an adult in the eye and utter a
reasonably coherent sentence.
Some of Lizzie's past boyfriends have, alas, not met this
high standard. I don't like it, but I
get it. My boyfriends at her age failed
all objective criteria, and then some. In fact, I took great delight in presenting my
parents with a line of ne'er-do-wells, including a peroxided 19-year-old
Atlantic City pool boy who thought I was 16. (I was 13 ... or I would be
soon). And an emaciated, 6'6" guy with
shoulder-length hair so greasy that his nickname was Pennzoil. (To his credit, no tongue piercing.)
My personal boyfriend criteria changed drastically during my active boyfriending years, from "let's shock the parents" types to tortured, neurotic artistic types to go-with-the-flow, it's-all-good, man types. Finally, I figured out what counts: a deep and abiding sense of humor, a passion for and curiosity about life, and the unusual ability to find me endlessly fascinating. I'm betting that's why I've managed to have one—and only one—husband.
I want Lizzie to have solid boyfriend standards, but I know
she will have to grow into them as I did. I want her to value her own unique self so much that she will associate
only with others who value her at least as highly. I want her to know and feel and celebrate her
self-worth and hang with a guy who does the same. I want her to seek challenges and have a
boyfriend who supports that—and who is, himself, a seeker. I want her to have adventures, but not the kind that end badly. And I want this boyfriend to see consequences
as well as opportunities. I want Lizzie
to laugh and have fun and think new thoughts and wander down new paths. I want her to learn how to do this, herself, and take joy in that. But how cool if
she found a worthy companion.
Her current boyfriend, to my utter delight, meets and
greatly exceeds the modest criteria I listed above. He has a depth to him I haven't seen in the
other guys. He has a great laugh. And the way that he looks at her? It's golden.
You know that cheesy move you see in movies with the nerdy guy inching his arm around the girl's shoulder? I love that.
And now, a word from the teenage daughter:
OK, so I thought of this first line for this boyfriend
blog and I just had to write it, even though my mom says it sounds like I'm a "40-year-old, chain-smoking stand-up comic at a dive club." Here goes: I like my men like I like my
meat; rare, with a side of me.
When I say rare, I mean sensitive, humble, yet
strong, maybe a little dorky, stubborn—and fun. I think that's a "rare" combination, especially
in guys around my age or older. When I
say "a side of me," I mean me by his side, you know, holding hands. You know that cheesy move you see in movies
with the nerdy guy inching his arm around the girl's shoulder? I love that. Hmmm. All this sounds
familiar. Kind of like my boyfriend
right now. Lucky me.
I wasn't always this lucky. Or should I say, smart. Let me
tell you about some of my past boyfriends. There was the clingy guy. There
was this guy with the clammy hands. There was this guy I had to babysit because he couldn't do anything for himself. There was the guy with the really bad teeth. There was the guy who thought he was the
smartest person he knew, and the mirror was his best friend. If he could have dated himself, he would have.
What I learned from five years of crushing on, dating and
then discarding (or being discarded by) these guys is that you actually have to
like and respect a guy first. You have
to know him a little and be friends. It's like you can't just look at the cover. You have to read the back of the book (where the good stuff is). So that's what happened with my current
boyfriend. We were friends first. Apparently, I discovered later, he was
secretly crushing on me. But at the
time, we just hung out, played video games, watched movies and ate pizza. It all happened slowly, and we got used to
each other, learned about each other, talked. It might be, in the future, that we really come to understand each
other. And that would be the best kind
of boyfriend of all.