After my last relationship broke up, I went out to lunch with a sympathetic friend, and he said the most startling and painful thing.
"My dear, you were just a substitute Cinderella."
A widower himself, he proceeded to catalog all the behaviors a man who adores his partner would naturally display:
- a kiss on the neck when leaving
- a muss of the hair and a kiss on the forehead
- a cheeky slap on the butt and a quirk of the eyebrow
- a tender touch at the small of your back as he escorts you to a restaurant table, or through a door
- offering a sexy treat from a basket of berries or a crust of warm bread
- compliments voiced in front of others
- holding doors and carrying packages without being asked
Since my partner displayed none of these characteristics to anyone, but could be secretly funny and affectionate in private, I assumed he was simply reserved. Shy.
But my friend had another theory, and in my heart, although it was painful to acknowledge, I instantly knew it was true. I was just the woman he had "settled for", not the ideal woman he wanted. I was a substitute Cinderella.
But none of that mattered, because he didn't really see me as a woman worth cherishing.
Some men have a predilection for classic California beauties with big eyes, swinging blond hair, toothy smiles, and long gams. Others seek a woman like their mother. Or they want a woman who unconditionally supports them and would never outshine them. Or all of the above. If you are considering a long-term commitment, you would do well to analyze what appear to be his casual tastes in women. It may be a key to his true ideal. Certainly, these visceral expectations seem superficial to us gals, but over and over again we are told how visual men are. And it's true. ( But I'll also tell you this: if a man ever breaks up with you and says it is because you are "fat", then he is judging the worth of another soul with a measuring tape—and that will come back to haunt him.)
I also think communication style is important. Some men say they want women who are easy to be with. But have you noticed that the women they are attracted to are often fiery and argumentative? That's because these men are putting out mixed signals. They want a wholesome, steady Freddie on their home front, but they want a prowling, sexy Carmen in their arms.
Love doctors advise women to be both; and that's fine, to a point. I suppose Cinderella wore black lace and garters for her prince in private. But don't place yourself in a relationship where you feel constantly criticized or unappreciated because your mate wants an ideal that you can never be.