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What do you look for in a man?

Posted in Life & Love, and Relationships

marlboro manHow did I become a lady who lunches? With two fundraising midday meals in one single week, I am beginning to think I am morphing into one of those Los Angeleno women I always found so alien.

But maybe it was just a fluke. And it was all for a good cause. Or two.

The second lunch I attended, for LAANE, put me around a table of interesting, professional women. To my right, a young singer with an album poised to be released in the next few months. To my left a record business executive around my age, a blonde, forthcoming woman with a strong sense of self.

Somehow, among strangers, the conversation takes an abrupt turn towards men, specifically what each of us found attractive upon first meeting a man.

In my 20s, the Marlboro man was the non plus ultra I aspired to: rugged, handsome, adventurous, chiselled. I could overlook the crucial dilemma that his sole job was to advertise nicotine.

In reality, I never went out with such a man which says a lot about the discrepancy between our fantasy world and our reality. But I do remember placing too much importance on a man’s hands (I didn’t like large hands) or shoes (the Italian snob in me). If I look back, I am amazed at such shallowness. In real life, intelligence and a strong sense of humor always won the day.

Half of the women at the table, between 35 and 50, were single. And looking. I sometimes help a friend, whose first language is not English, compose messages to the men she meets through dating sites, and I am always intrigued by how people profile themselves, what they think is attractive: a jumble of physical attributes to give the impression of youth and vigor; long lists of more or less boring hobbies; a penchant for long walks in nature. What is it with long walks and men in their 50s? Do they mean to convey inner wisdom? Or do they disguise the reality that games of tennis are a thing of the past?

Standing up for what is right, self-assuredness, vulnerability and honesty are what I value most in a man, what I would counsel my younger self to look for and what I would look for now if I were single (and I am so, so grateful I am not). Most of the women around the table mentioned support, an equal partner, sense of humor, maybe similar interests, financial stability. Nobody mentioned shoes.

The mindless conversation around a table of strangers, sipping iced-tea, made me curious. What do women really look for in a potential partner, especially if they find themselves single later in life? Have your preferences changed over the years? And if so, how?

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18 Comments

  1. My important qualities? A few, not all, common interests. Someone I can share some laughs with and some ability to communicate with me. Someone who is caring — about me and others. And last but not least — the more you care about someone, the better they look.

    May 13, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      My husband still looks to me the way he did when I first met him.

      May 13, 2016
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  2. Hm. This made me wonder. I too was shallow when younger (“he’s has to be dreamy!”) – and also listen, want to know the real me, support my emotional needs, me me me. Oh, and did I mention he had to be dreamy?
    With age, I confess two things happened: I am still mostly attracted by the tall, dark and handsome type (the long-haired, tattooed and bearded one) but I would no longer be willing to suffer weird personality traits in order to keep my eyes happy. I am lucky to have found the kindest and most wonderful man who also happens to look exactly like my perfect guy, and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash if he told me he’d like to cut his hair and wear a suit from now on. Personality always wins in the end, and I’m sorry it takes us women quite some time to realise that – the tortures one can sometimes endure just to fulfil a visual lust, how absurd!

    May 12, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      If I look back at my 20s, sometimes I wonder if madness wasn’t required!

      May 13, 2016
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  3. I cannot deal with dating. Nope. Done. However, I would love to have a partner so not sure how this is going to happen. It’s tough in Rome as online dating is not popular among my generation like it is in Los Angeles. To be honest, I was never a fan of it anyway. Also, the divorce rate is a lot lower here so there are very few single men in their 40s and 50s.

    May 11, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      As you well know, there is no such word as dating in the Italian language. Meeting people is (or was) left to chance. I am positive I couldn’t deal with internet dating. From what I hear, finding available men past 40 on both sides of the Atlantic, is like trying to find a unicorn.

      May 13, 2016
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  4. Although I am single and not actively looking, the thought is always in the back of my mind. The things I look for have certainly changed over the years as I get to know myself better. But the two things that have remained constant are the ability to have a conversation and a sense of humor. Looks change but if I can’t talk to him about everything, I can’t see it being successful.

    May 10, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Absolutely true. Although, I have the sneaky suspicion women love to talk and men have gotten professional at tuning out a lot of the time!

      May 10, 2016
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  5. I do believe that what we look for changes as we mature but agree that true love is the most important.

    May 10, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Yes, but what is true love based upon?

      May 10, 2016
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  6. Gotta say though in addition to the important qualities you mentioned, good shoes do convey a person who attends to details (or has too much money 🙂 ). The detail part is generally a good trait. ღ

    May 10, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I suppose. I think I looked at one trait I wouldn’t have to re-educate!

      May 10, 2016
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  7. Ellie Toffolo
    Ellie Toffolo

    Preferences changed over the years? I must admit at the end of the day I really just needed to fall deeply in love…….when it happened everything fell into place. I don’t need to make lists of things anymore. It just is fundamentally so.
    As for simple attraction in the past – it depended on all sorts of things and I was usually disappointed and my potential partners were too. It takes real stamina to play the dating game. Which I don’t have. I wish I had while I waited for true love -it would have been fun……

    May 10, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Mindless dating is fun, it creates good dinner party stories but sort of empty. You didn’t miss much.

      May 10, 2016
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  8. Great post, Campari Girl! I have been thinking about this a lot lately too.

    The Marlboro Man? In my case it was the Camel Man, carving a path through the jungle and making his own boat to row upriver. I longed for the hunky, outdoorsy type and never gave a thought to the fact that I loathe camping. My idea of time spent out in the wild is a short walk before going back to a cozy cabin with a roaring fire – in the fireplace where it belongs – and a decent meal made with food taken from a hygienic fridge and cooked on a proper stove. This meal should be accompanied by red wine in crystal glasses, followed by chocolate and a warm, comfy queen-size bed – all indoors! I enjoy electricity, bug screens, flat smooth floors and flushing toilets!

    It never worried me that the Camel Man was a smoker. Not until two of my long-term relationships were with smokers. I’d never do that again. I hated the stench of old cigarette smoke in my curtains. Life’s too short and precious to spend it constantly washing curtains and cleaning up after a smoker. I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life.

    What do I look for in a man? Not much. These days my standards seem to have dropped a little. If a generous-hearted, non-smoking, morally sound man in his fifties shows up with a good sense of humour and looking for a companion, I’m interested. Bonus if he knows how to use his own vacuum cleaner, dishwasher and washing machine. Of course, if he can cook good food and enjoys red wine – I’m definitely in!

    May 10, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I am with you when it comes to material comforts. You wouldn’t pay me enough to sleep in a tent ever again and not wash for three days. As to lowering standards, a friend of mine commented: As long as they have a roof over their heads and a car, I am willing to entertain the thought.

      May 10, 2016
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  9. winston moreton
    winston moreton

    I was obliged to consult. The response was reflexed sans reflection – expressed negatively; she doesn’t like dirty finger nails, smelly feet, or greasy hair. It has always been so.

    May 9, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Good woman. She went for the grooming. Rule no. 1: never lie with a stinky man.

      May 10, 2016
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