Marry the Man Today?

Recently a friend registered a complaint that I’ve heard before from single friends, and probably uttered myself.

She was talking about going to a friend’s wedding where she knows (courtesy Facebook photos of pre-wedding events) that there will be a large number of good-looking and available men, and said that she’d asked her marrying friend why she hadn’t tried to set her up with any of them in the past.

In response, said marrying friend explained that none of them were “good enough.”

“Hook a sister up!” my friend exclaimed in her email relaying the story. “Guys are often not good enough until they meet the one!”

Which immediately led me to think two things. Actually I thought of three things, the first being a show tune lyric that I must tell you springs to mind whenever this issue surfaces: remember that Guys and Dolls song, the one with the chorus “marry the man today, change his ways tomorrow”? Yes, that is what I always think of. And to what degree it is dubious advice. Let me continue.

My next thought I will express to you as a memo addressed to non-single folk: do, please, set your single friends/acquaintances up with each other. I know it can get complicated, and yes it will likely backfire, but really it’s the best way to meet people and eventually everyone will get over the awkwardness. Hook a sister up, indeed.

Finally, I thought that this belief–this notion that a guy will change when he meets us/aka ‘the one’–is one that I’ve lately realized many of us are beholden to, and that is more than a little misguided.

When I say “many of us”  I of course mean me: sure he’s a pothead, but if he really likes me he’ll cut down. Sure he’s had a really hard time committing and being faithful in the past, but if he really likes me he won’t. Sure he drinks too much/can be kind of a jerk/is totally immature, but if he really likes me I’m sure he’ll change.

Though I still find it difficult–per usual–to behave accordingly, I’m beginning to come to terms with the reality that–regardless of whether or how much he likes me–no, he actually won’t change.

I mean, maybe he will. Maybe he will someday stop drinking/being a jerk/chronically philandering. And maybe that day will coincide with him meeting a woman.

But honestly, I don’t think he will stop being/doing those things because he meets her.

Not long ago I was involved with an alcoholic. I didn’t realize it initially: I thought so long as he didn’t drink vodka first thing every morning he was just a guy who liked to drink beer instead of eat dinner some nights.

I didn’t realize how bad it was, but I knew it was a problem. And I really, truly thought that being with me could help him get better. I thought he cared about me so much that he would fix himself. I think, for a minute, he thought so too.

Of course it didn’t take long for him to realize that was a mistake. Being with me just made him feel bad for being a bad boyfriend who drank too much, which made him drink more.

I understood that. I understood that in order for people to change they need to be ready to change, and that if he was ever going to get better he would need to do it on his own.

But still: it was impossible for me not to think that if he really liked me he would have been able to do it.

In her “hook a sister up” email, my friend wrote “I’m not saying I am the one, but still…”

But the thing is that we can’t help but always, kind of, think that we are “the one.” Of course we usually realize that we are not, in fact, the one for that person–putting aside that whole question of whether such a thing exists.

But we’ve got to retain a faith that someone, eventually, will realize how amazing and singularly fantastic we are.

I’m just not sure about the faith that this realization will make them be anything other than who they are when we meet them.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Marry the Man Today?

  1. Clarence

    As your own paternal grandmother of 100+ years has always said about people….men in particular….a leopard cannot change its spots.

    • Agreed. But she also always said that it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man, which I have not thus far found to be true.

  2. Molly

    There’s a great play that I saw in NYC a couple years ago (okay, maybe more than a couple–it was still embarrassing to see with my then BF, now hub.) It’s called I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. I guess it’s an answer to that Guys and Dolls tune.

  3. RP

    Great blog. I would just add this to the conversation: despite believing we might be the one to break through a man’s shell or habits, I think the other side of it (from the friends side of it — those making matches) is that all of us, boys girls whomever, have all done things in past hook-ups, relationships that might deem us undatable, assholes, what have you in someway… We’re all guilty. And so the other reason for friends continuing to make matches despite the thought that “he’s not good enough for you” is that people do, when they care, if they’re good people, act good and differently than their past when they end up in the right relationship. Often undatable guys are all these bad things with all these women until, next thing you know, said guy has settled down with a girl and they’re great together; for whatever reason, this coupling works. So there are times when past-assholes become great partners in the present. So while I don’t think you can change people or their ways — before or after you marry them — I think people themselves live up to different potentials of themselves depending on the relationship, the one they’re with and what they think of them, how they’re inspired by them…. That’s a wrap.

  4. Coming from the Non-single folk standpoint I can tell you nothing would make me happier than to be able to hook my friends up. I have single friends of both sexes and when it backfires, it really sucks for the person who set it up, and possibly the relationship with both friends, but still I keep my eyes open and try my best to find matches that make sense. But maybe you are right — maybe it’s not my place to decide if it’s right or not, but if I didn’t screen I know I’d never hear the end of it!

  5. E

    I am hesitant to try and set people up now because it has backfired on me. Reason #2: I hated it when people tried to set me up with every single guy they knew when I got to a certain age, even though we had nothing in common except our singledom. It irked me that people assumed I was deficient without a boyfriend, or was searching for something because of my single status (which is how I interpreted it).

    Is assuming that single people ‘have to’ or even ‘want to’ find a mate meddling? Or is it just what people do as we age? I just don’t think I was ever looking very hard for guys, but now I wonder if my friends would appreciate me stepping in more. It makes me a bit antsy after my previous experiences, and because I loved being single. However, if a friend asked, I would definitely ‘hook a sista’ up.’ Heck, the only reason I’m with my guy now is because our mutual close friend was sick of hearing about how much I liked D, he knew that D liked me, and pushed me on top of him when we were all drunk:) He definitely ‘hooked me up,’ and he knew us both well enough that it was OK. Maybe that is the key- how well you know the person hooking you up?

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