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?