When a man and a woman love each other very much…yada yada yada.
It’s a nice simple thought. Too simple possibly? So simple it feels like a lie? Yes, that too.
You see menfolk, women come with a preprogrammed checklist hardwired into our brains. When we are born this checklist is blank, but as we progress in both years and beauty we fill in those blanks with the things that we enjoy and therefore demand of you gentleman.
How do we choose the requirements that we fill into our list? Quite simple: you do silly things that irk us and we write down the exact opposite. In kindergarten when you pull our pigtails and kick dirt on us we think, “Hey, maybe someone a little less aggressively dick-headed.” When you stand us up for the middle school dance we make a note, saying “okay, somebody who shows up when they are supposed to with gifts and compliments”. When you get a car in high school we go on alert and think “oh yes, a guy with a really nice shiny, powerful and fully loaded…personality.” And then in college when you’re all brooding and misunderstood we think “okay, a guy who still has tattoos but not a complete personality disorder.”
And verily verily the list grows and adapts over the span of our formative years, laying the framework for our dream man who will ride us into that vague sunset with the Happily Ever After scrolled across the screen.
And what does the man described in that list look like? Obviously he’s a six foot rock star with a 6 pack, chiseled scruffy jaw, tattoos and a tortured, artsy, misunderstood soul.
But friends, a strange thing happens when a woman turns 25. The list—perfected and polished over the years—changes so drastically that you actually wonder if your entire personality has shifted. Things you were once attracted to with such passionate certainty are replaced with more practical, sedate and dependable traits. Oh take my hand dear reader, for you know I will explain.
At the age of roughly 25 a woman finds herself at a crossroads. She is exactly halfway through her glorious 20s, staring equal distance to her spent teen years and her pending transition to 30. With this realization comes evaluation of many aspects of your planned life. You start to look at houses, planning out what you want through Pinterest and IKEA catalogues. You are working (hopefully) and either settling into a career or figuring out what you want to do with your life after realizing you hate your major. You are probably noticing adorable little sticky babies everywhere, staring at you and making your ovaries hurt.
At 25 you are officially making choices for keeps. You are on the grid and things now stick to you.
This is when the shift occurs. You have imagined a beautiful little theoretical life for yourself and suddenly that unemployed free spirit with the struggling band you hate doesn’t fit in so well in your redecorated imagination. You’re ready for brunch and he’s still sleeping off his bender on your brand new off-white suede couch. Did this hypothetical man just put a glass on my future reclaimed wood coffee table without using a coaster? Nope, he’s got to go.
And so the carefully crafted list is called in for review and adjustments must be made. And thus we come to THE REAL TURN ONS OF THE ALMOST 30 YEAR OLD!!!
As the great poets TLC once said: “No, I don’t want no scrubs, a scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me.” Sorry gentleman , but you need to have some sort of employment situation. There are basic necessities in life that require money to be coming to you in bi-weekly paychecks. Forget about the big expenses like rent and gas, I’m talking about general food and toothpaste money.
If you have a career all the better. Any job will do, but if you’re actually invested in something that you enjoy that is a happier situation for all of us! If you don’t have any of those things than please, kindly stop trying to date as you are not ready to bring another person into your unstable life.
#2- Financial Situation Under Control
No, not gold digging. I don’t care if you’re rich or living paycheck-to-paycheck, so long as you have a game plan and aren’t drowning. Student loans? That’s cool, but only if you’re making payments. Wait, you have a savings account? SWOON! Oooh, talk to me about investments baby! Say 401-K again reeeeaaaal slow.
Good Credit: yeah, there is something nice about knowing that you can sign your name instead of giving people actual currency and they will take your word for it. What, we can buy a house? I can replace my broken car? Sign that powerful clean name! Having bad credit is our modern day equivalent to the Wanted posters that used to hang up in banks of the old West; you might as well not even walk in because everyone inside knows what you did!
#3- Own something
There should be things in this world that physically belong to you. As an adult you need to acquire certain things, like a car. Perhaps even a home. Furniture is a plus too. Again, no materialism intended, but as an adult you need a vehicle, some clothes, a few belongings, or some form of worldly goods. I’m more free spirited and simplistic than most, but I still own a car.
#4- Good with kids OCCASIONALLY!
Why only occasionally? A woman in the frenzied man hunt must factor kids into her equation, and thusly she will want to see how a man interacts with children, but only occasionally. A man who plays with the friend’s kids at a BBQ is adorable. A man who spends heaps of spare time with kids is a red flag. But women do want to see that you show an interest in the babies, so even though you might not really care, just give it a shot.
#5- Witty Banter
This is a big one, though it’s possible that it is only particular to me. Banter and the ability to exchange quick jokes/comments/insults/retorts/etc is SO HOT! You clever bastard, I think I will keep you forever. Humor is important, but banter is the means by which you prove its worth. I don’t need you to have 6 pack abs, so long as you can sit beside me while we make fun of people with 6 pack abs together!
Humor is vital, for there is just nothing like the snarky musings born of people who have lived through a shit storm and come out the other side with a solid and delightfully jaded sense of humor.
“Wow, my boyfriend who used to cheat on me all the time really cleaned up his act and is now totally faithful”, said no woman ever. Keep it zipped and at home and have a track record that can back it up.
#7- Netflix and Binge Watching
Yes, I do occasionally like to get fancied up and go out amongst real people, but there is something particularly magical about a night at home in sweatpants, binge watching Arrested Development or Harry Potter with the one you love. Nap intermission? Sure, I don’t mind if I do. Ordering take-out? Oh you spoil me darling!
Short of a major trauma or legitimate rift, you need to like your family. You should have some sort of mostly consistent communication with them. I don’t want to hear that they are annoying, because I definitely plan on being annoying in the years to come, so I need to know you can get through that.
Those people gave you life and they deserve a call. I talk to my family an amount that some people and mental health professionals might call obscene. Call your family!
Plan things in advance. If you call me at the last minute I am going to put as much effort into caring about your suggested plans as you did into arranging them. I always have plans, even if that plan is just to get things done around the house. There is never a time when I am looking at my phone and willing it to ring. If there is down time I have already decided what I’m filling it with.
This extends to travel plans as well. At no point should you ask me after the age of 25 to go on a planned trip that involves the words “crash” or “futon”. You know what’s exciting? Hotels booked on credit cards that give us reward points.
Always sexy. That one doesn’t change at 25. Always sexy!
However, after 25 those things need to be camouflaged. Unless you became CEO at the ripe age of 24 before the shift occurred you are going to need to look professional. Tattoos are for the night time, after-work hours and weekends. I have two tattoos myself but you know who’s never seen them? My employer. Between the hours of 8:00-5:00 as far as they know I am an unblemished Amish woman.
I can’t fix anything. If something breaks in my house I consider just moving. This general, tangible uselessness of mine makes it really attractive when you pipe up with your confident “Oh, I can fix that. No problem.” Um, yes please! Can I come watch you compare things at the Home Depot?
I’m rough on cars and appliances break in my presence so if you have actual skills you are now like a superhero to me.
#12- Practical Gifts
It’s really sweet that you got me this incredibly weird airbrushed T-shirt with our pictures on it, but I actually needed a camera. No I don’t want flowers for Valentine’s Day, I want an iPad. How about a bouquet of Apple gift cards? Please don’t give me any other things to put in my box of sweet gifts from guys that I have no idea what to do with but I feel guilty throwing away. It’s full! Let’s get each other things we can actually use.
Rather than an endless parade of people so douchey I don’t even want to exert the effort to learn their names, let’s just keep it to a handful. I hereby commit to learn about and actually like your 3 favorite friends, and I won’t expect more than that from you. Verbal contract.
#14- Confidence (not cockiness)
Please read that again. A man who is confident and comfortable with himself is unstoppable. If you can silently convey that you are confident in yourself than you can probably get any woman in the world. I’ve seen it happen. However, if you are cocky and you actually pay yourself compliments or tell me how great you are, you can probably get punched by any woman in the world.
When a guy tells me he’s good looking or funny or charming or blah blah blah…I experience these minor rage blackouts. If you brag on yourself there is a 97% chance that it’s probably not true. And if you brag about yourself to me there is a 98.6% chance that I am going to strike you about the face.
#15- Coherent Clear Conversation
Just say what you’re thinking. I like flirting and being coy as much as the next person, but not all the time. I would love for you to just tell me exactly what is on your mind. Sometimes I’m tired and I don’t have the energy to be adorable so I really just need you to tell me exactly what you need/want/think. I want to help you, I just need you to use your words!
#16- Call me out
Again, this one might just be me. I love when a guy who is easy going 90% of the time and tends to let me get away with my ridiculousness steps up and tell me no. Not all the time, just occasionally so the novelty doesn’t ware off. I tend to say and do whatever I want, which I know probably surprises nobody. I also tend to push boundaries and left unchecked I can cause great amounts of damage. I need to be stopped occasionally! So when a guy who is mostly indulgent puts his foot down IT IS SUPER HOT!
That is all I will say on that matter. Let us move forward.
If you can handle your responsibilities and do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it than you are already light years ahead of most, and don’t you think I didn’t notice! Ooh sweetheart, I couldn’t help but notice there are no final notice warnings in the mail today; how delightful. Wow, you picked me up when you said you were going to! I know that unexpected things come up, but I also know that if I’m at the airport and you’re my ride home I’m going to need you there and circling the terminal while I’m at baggage claim. In fact, this is my fantasy so I’m going to need you at baggage claim…yeah, that feels right.
#18- The Chase
Yeah, we like this too. Within reason. Leaving a girl hanging and wondering where she stands is not the chase. Flirting and spending casual time together; that’s all good. We want to enjoy the build up too. So, having said that, all you super committers and eager beavers need to calm the hell down. I’m glad that you want to get married and have kids, but maybe don’t tell me that right out the gate. Go ahead and bottle that up and stagger it out so you don’t scare the hell out of me. In fact, where did all these super committers come from? Where are the scared, commitment-shy men I was promised? Why am I the only one freaked out by commitment?
#19- Facial Hair
I don’t have a clever little description for this, you should just know that it’s irresistible. The ideal human specimen is really the Brawny paper towel man, so please base your lives off of that template.
Unless you are forbidden to grow it because of military service than you should be letting that stubble out. And if you can’t grow it…join the military and nobody will ever know.
Oh how the list has changed and shifted. Sure, some of the original stuff sticks, but most gets totally replaced. And by the end of this transition your improved list actually contains some healthy, dare I even say possible things! And this new, realistic list-man might actually be someone you can enjoy talking to, rather than just looking at like the original list boy. Armed with your updated list you look back at that man-child you always dreamed you would end up with and you have to laugh at how unappealing he now looks. He was brooding and intense, but as an adult that’s just referred to as being an asshole. He always brought his guitar out in weird and inappropriate social situations, like at a party where people want to talk and not listen to his spontaneous acoustic concert. You, the almost 30-something, can now see that hypothetical fella as the exhausting project that he was while you eat pizza in your sweats with your new and improved dream man in a house with a 15 year fixed mortgage.
This liberating new list is a thing of beauty which really boils down to one thing: in a nutshell we all want the Old Spice Guy.