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When Mate-Trolling, Beware of Perfection, Expert Advises

September 15, 1989|EVAN CUMMINGS | Evan Cummings is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

We live in a narcissistic age where labels often mean more than people. Anaheim psychotherapist Lynne Logan, who conducts workshops on finding good relationships, suggests that single people reconsider their criteria and discard the Madison Avenue image of perfect looks, hard bodies, business and social connections and money.

Logan says that many of her clients who are successful businesswomen are beginning to re-evaluate their positions on what they look for in a man. Where once they believed that he must live in the right house and drive the right car, many are realizing that they need more than money can buy.

"The problem is," she says, "that most of the men in their preferred age group (late 30s to 50s) have come out of a financially draining divorce and are starting over again. How attractive is this guy going to be to a woman who wants it all?"

A good example is Michael Busch, 38, director of sales for a clothing manufacturer. Recently divorced, he was forced to move down--from a spacious home behind guarded gates in Mission Viejo to a two-bedroom apartment in what he describes as a "generic" apartment complex in El Toro.

"I have to rebuild," he says. "It's as though I am starting from square one. Once I thought nothing of flying to San Francisco for dinner, but I can't do that anymore. But so many women want to be wined and dined on every date, with no regard for what it costs a guy. Sometimes I feel half-man, half-checkbook."

Charli Dinning, 26, of Laguna Beach, a buyer for a department store, is one who wants it all. "I grew up relatively poor," she says. "I put myself through college on scholarships, and to be real honest, I am tired of struggling. I know it isn't fair, but no matter how great a guy is, I don't want to struggle with him--I can struggle alone."

Logan points out that single people often ignore an important quality: a willingness to commit. "Even if a man's marriage ended after 20 years, at least that person has shown he is able to make a commitment and stick with it," she says. "Some people are starting to realize, too, that the one thing money can't buy is someone to love and nurture them."

Bonnie Holmes, 42, is a nurse who lives in Anaheim. She has learned through trial and error what is really important to her. "I was married to a three-piece suit and pocket watch," she says. "He looked perfect, he took me to all the right places; he fit in perfect, socially. But he was emotionally vacant.

"Last summer I met a man who came to do some work on my house. We became friends. I started to realize that although he was the antithesis of everything I had always looked for, he was special. He is a really good person. He is there for me--honest, reliable and very caring. These are the qualities that I have learned are important, because they are the ones that last forever."

That attitude is unusual, Logan says. With all the media emphasis on glamour, "you almost never hear people say, 'This love is so special, I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize this love,' and that's sad," she says.

Sean McNeil, 27, of Newport Beach admits that he gets caught in a beauty trap. "When I hear a friend say that he won't go out with a girl because she doesn't have long legs or long, blond hair, I think it's so shallow--and yet, I know that I do the same thing. I know it's wrong, but I can't help it--I go for looks."

Logan says the fast-paced American society has created a legion of "give-it-to-me-now" grabbers, impatient when someone does not immediately measure up.

Suzanne Oblander, 34, of Laguna Niguel agrees: "I find that I am less tolerant of people than I used to be. If I go out with someone a few times, and he does something that rubs me the wrong way, I tend to walk away, because I don't want to waste precious time with the wrong person. I know that sometimes I don't give a man a fair chance."

There are those who want to love so much that they are willing to distort their thoughts, put on rose-colored glasses and create an entirely different person than the one who exists.

Melissa Tibbits, 31, of La Habra admits that she used to be guilty of that.

"There are times in my life when I have felt more lonely or more vulnerable--it's like I'm in love with love," she says.

"I have found myself imagining the future with someone I barely know. Or I attribute qualities to him that I don't even know he has. I have learned to be more in touch with my feelings so that I don't do that so much anymore."

Logan suggests that singles consider these points when looking at a potentially serious relationship:

* Is the person dependent on alcohol or drugs? If so, run--don't walk--away. Don't make excuses and don't believe the problem is only temporary.

* How has this person adjusted to input from parental influences? How has this person played the cards that were dealt in childhood?

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