OK, I'll admit it -- I'm one of those romantics who believes that my soul mate is out there someplace. I just hope she's in the Los Angeles area, because if she's in Kentucky or Argentina, the dating commute is going to grow old pretty quickly, despite the obvious advantages to my frequent-flier mileage account.
Assuming, as I do, though, that my soul mate is currently within the borders of California, my next concerns are:
1. How do I find her?
2. Will she also perceive me as her soul mate?
3. Will she eventually break up with me, then write a blog about our relationship in which she explains that it was being with me that caused her to realize that she truly preferred leading the life of a nun? This becomes a best-selling book, then a movie, with Eric Roberts playing me.
Hey, you have your nightmares; I have mine; Woody Allen has his.
Of course it would be so easy if, when you met your soul mate, he or she had a large neon sign overhead flashing "THIS IS THE ONE!" But so few people are considerate enough to appear in our lives bearing the proper oversized neon identification. Hence, we must find other criteria.
These other criteria, at least for me, have included:
2. Shared interests.
3. A meeting of minds.
4. Willingness to get naked with me.
5. Willingness to sign my disclaimer stating that if she does decide to leave me for a life of chastity and marriage to the Lord, she must leave my name out of it.
OK, so No. 4 doesn't guarantee she's soul mate material, but it is indicative of the proper gung-ho attitude; it's a start.
I also worry about "settling." At what point do you look at the person across the table and say to yourself, "OK, I'm done looking. She has enough of what I want. I'll be with her." And then not have the feeling a few months or years down the line, "Gee, her bright red hair, harsh, guttural German accent and collection of antique soup ladles didn't seem quite so annoying when we first met."
So when it comes to the qualities we want in a soul mate, how many of them are enough? Is my list of 287 desired traits sufficient? Too many? And should my therapist have the final word on the matter? If my PSM (potential soul mate) has 75% of my desired attributes, should that be sufficient? Or would I feel that I'm settling and wonder if someone with 89% would have been just around the corner and much more satisfying? And if she was, would I truly be happy with her, when someone with 97% might have come along a month or two down the line?
Now do you understand my torment? And how important a working knowledge of arithmetic is in an adult single's daily life? Thank God for my calculator.
Clearly, no one person is going to have all the traits I'd ideally like my soul mate to possess. Except maybe Salma Hayek, but I certainly can't count on her, due to the fact that she's married and, of course, the restraining order. So, what am I willing to do without?
If she has great looks and a great job, can I do without her having a sense of humor? If she has a wonderful personality and laughs at everything I say, do I really mind that she looks a bit like my Uncle Hank? And if she's nuts about me and is a sexual athlete, do I care that she moves her lips when she reads, and truly enjoys the thrills of monster truck rallies? Finally, do I ask too many questions?
Everything in life seems to be less than perfect, a compromise. Our jobs are never quite ideal. Our meals are never up to par. Friends and family let us down. Books and movies disappoint. Even our bodies are not what we'd like. So why do we expect perfection in our romantic partners? We can't all be Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies. And even they surely have their flaws and problems. Yeah, right. Boohoo.
They say that with age comes wisdom. OK, so I've personally disproved that theory, time and time again. But I have learned a thing or two. And one of the things I've learned is that when you're in a truly loving relationship, your partner's flaws are minimized and positive qualities maximized. Which is a really nice thing to happen, because it sends you deeper into love with them.
And when that happens, one day you look across the table and you don't think, "I wonder if I could have done better." You think, "I am incredibly lucky to be with her."
Then you touch her gently and tell her that her harsh, guttural Germanic voice is like silk, her red hair has never looked lovelier and, in one final gesture of pure love, you offer to help her polish her soup ladles.