shiny objects

Have you ever noticed that the characteristics that are attractive when we date are oftentimes those that make for the most problems in a marriage?

Ladies, imagine this:

A guy picks you up for a date in an expensive foreign car.  His outfit looks new and straight from the racks of Bloomingdales.  You jet off to a nice restaurant where the bill is certainly more than you’d foot for a dinner out on a Tuesday.  Fast forward a few months and Mr. Wonderful is still picking up the tabs, and perhaps has even bought you a nice piece of jewelery.  You’re loving the wining and dining and all that he has to offer.  Now, fast forward to when you’re looking to settle down.  Suddenly you’re concerned that you’re a saver and Mr. Wonderful’s lifestyle is completely different from how you’d spend your own money.  Perhaps he even has a ‘bad boy’ attitude that initially attracted you.  You loved his mystery and that you could seemingly ‘tame’ him.  Now you’re thinking about your future and wanting stability and maybe even kids. Can you trust that he’ll stay committed and interested when things get mundane?  Suddenly Mr. Wonderful-to-date seems like Mr. Not-so-marriage-material.

Guys: I’m sure I could draw out a similar story about women; how you look for women who will shack up with you early on, who are always primped and looking polished, and who aren’t ‘clingy’.  Then, as time goes on and your ‘boys’ are getting married one-by-one, you look around and see that these women were great for about an hour, or maybe a couple months, but certainly not ‘bring home to home’ or ‘wife-up’ material.

Why is it that we fall time and again for the people who are so far from the things we really want and need to have a successful long time relationship?  At what point do we begin to look past those shiny surface factors and let people in enough to see the qualities that have staying power?  And how often do the two really work in harmony?

As a guilty party myself, I don’t necessarily have answers to this.  I’m just throwing it out there, perhaps asking those on either side of the coin (in successful long-term relationships or still picking the wrong partners based on similar reasons) to weigh in.   I’m sure some of you have stories of Mr/Ms Wonderful also meets Mr/Ms-marriage-material, but I’d like to know if he/she was such a shiny and attractive package from the get-go.


  1. Something to think about… If everything else is working out and it’s just his “spending” habit then perhaps it can be worked out. Can he or you answer why he is spending on you? There should be specific reasons. If he can tell you in a simple and articulate manner then his behavior may be modifiable. I’m not saying “fixed” or “corrected” just potentially modifiable.

    People spend on others for a variety of reasons: to impress, to meet expectations, to meet certain perceptions, etc. There are always three sides to a story. It’s up to you to find out what they are. If he’s willing to discuss then you may be able to kill multiple birds with stone. Directly the spending issue and indirectly how far he’s willing to go with you. (Money specifics are a hot topic with many people. And many marriages have fallen apart due to lack of communication and financial mismatches.)

    Do remember it can be hard to know how much to spend on someone. Everyone’s expectations are different and so must be set before hand accordingly. Even then is your gray my gray? That’s why it may take several looks to make sure our shades of gray are similar. Keep at it, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

  2. How very true, my friend. Like they say, grass is always greener on the other side…..but when you cross sides, the last side appears greener….

  3. No, I just put it up- it was quite thoughtful. Atlantachap, I think I need for you to share your identity with me so I can learn more! You seem wise.

  4. Actually, I suppose you can delete my previous comment. The lack of formatting makes it hard to read.

  5. Experience is a great teacher. Therefore it may be beneficial to act on those under-developed ideas and learn from them. Since the relationship textbook is ever changing and constantly being updated, only so much teaching and learning can be exchanged outside of experiencing it.

    Once you understand the difference between needs and wants along with what you personally need and want in a partner. Then the question becomes would you recognize your needs and/or wants in a potential long term partner? I suspect people have at least a rudimentary idea of what they need and want. To then recognize or decipher the qualities you are looking for and then potentially direct it a certain way are where the real challenges lay.

    I always spend quality time, however brief, with a potential partner to allow me to peer into her soul. Everyone has layers to peel back, whether from societal or personal creation, before you see a glimmer of his or her true self. Sometimes it takes a few looks from different angles to grasp what it is you are truly looking at.

    Take for example an uncut diamond which looks like beach glass to many. Once you realize it’s a diamond in the rough, how do you then cut it? Do you let a master gem cutter work his magic? Do you help cut it yourself? Or is it a combination of different cutters: master gem cutter, yourself, and your potential long term partner?

    Personally, I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to observe a few diamonds in the rough and give them an initial cut or two. The four C’s – cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, may work well for some.
    1. What fabric is your potential partner cut from? Does he have the fire and brilliance from within? (Many things go into creating superior fabric, i.e. materials, weave, and finish to name a few. Think of 1000 count Pima Combed Cotton bed linen and sheets. One could say materials are genetics. Weave is education. And finish is your personal touch on how you define yourself.)
    2. What color is his character? Is he shady or do you see the rainbow?
    3. How clear is his mind? Is he level headed or does anger often cloud his mind?
    4. Does he take care of himself? Is he motivated and disciplined to at least do the basics?
    Just a few things I consider for a potential long term partner.

  6. As a quick reaction: a lot of us do not know “the things we really want.” We think we know and we act on those shallow, undeveloped ideas. If we really want to meet a person who will remain true and important to us, we have to know what we do not want. i.e hopefully not material objects and transient good looks/good luck. Instead, to understand ourselves and a partner/lover better I suggest unselfishly bending into that person’s life to develop an idea of what it is to love from their perspective.-mm.

  7. story. of. my. life.

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