Is Everyone 85% Your Perfect Match?
Photo by toastyken; creative commons license.
In the almost 4 years I’ve been divorced, I’ve been told repeatedly that I’m too picky. Last month, I was told that in an entirely different way by aguru.
“You’re not finding a romantic partner because you’re focusing on the 15% of differences you have with every man you meet,” she told me.
“Every man you meet,” she persisted, “is 85% of your ideal. You could be happy with any man you go out with and have a wonderful relationship with him if ONLY you’d focus on that 85% and not think about the remaining 15%.”
She slowed down, talking very slowly so I’d be sure to understand every word. “If you focus on the good stuff—the 85%–you could be really happy with any man you meet. ANY man.”
I wondered if maybe she was right. The romances I’ve had have been stellar, but for varying reasons, not long-term. I’ve had plenty of opportunities with men I felt blah about, and chose to pass. But could I have missed some true treasures because they were only 85% of what I want in a romantic partner? I suppose I must have asked the Universe if she was accurate in her assessment of my romantic life, so of course…it answered immediately.
The next man I went out with did indeed seem to have a lot in common with me, especially in our emails, texts, and phone conversations. Yes, he really did seem to be 85% of everything I was looking for in romantic company. In fact, we seemed to hit it off over pre-dinner drinks, enough so to make me think that maybe, just maybe, any man out there really was the right material for a romantic partnership if I simply ignored the little things, the 15% of non-ideal.
Of course, the little things I noticed right away really were LITTLE things. The little things that don’t matter to me, like height or what he was wearing or even the size of his nose. He had a couple of drinks at the bar and I had a Sprite rather than drink and drive, and our conversation was easy and light. I understood how our similar backgrounds and love for our children drew us together. I understood the moderate attraction. Until dinner.
After two or three more drinks, he was telling me what I think and believe without ever having asked, punctuating every other sentence with VERY LOUD profanity, slurring racist slurs, letting me know what a woman’s value and values should be, telling me how much he loves the Nature that he paves over routinely, and bragging about what he would do and has done for money. He repeatedly pointed out passersby with a critical eye, remarking on their nationality, their clothes, their piercings, their weight. I was uncomfortable with this man long before half the restaurant turned to see what his problem was.
If he’s 85% my ideal, I thought, then the other 15% is about quantity of major issues between us, and not their magnitude, which would be about…85% of the whole package. In his case, the 15% of non-ideal stuff is just too big a percentage for me to live with—mostly because if I were to try to have a relationship with this person, I could not be 85%–or more—of who I really am.
Though the premise was good to investigate and I understand the idea that we could probably all be happier in our relationships if we focused more on the positive and less on criticizing minutiae, just that quickly, the 85/15 rule of perfect matching has been disproved to me. Besides, making a real connection with a romantic partner isn’t about numbers and formulaic assessments. Real connections happen very quickly, run very deeply…and usually, mathematics cannot explain them.