Dear Rachel,

Relationships are so confusing. I can’t decide if the woman I’m dating is right for me or not, so I made a list of pros and cons.  On the con side; her face isn’t attractive, she’s not affectionate and she’s boring. She never goes out. On the pro side; she’s got a nice body, I love her son (I’ve always wanted to be a father) and she passed the corn dog test. (I like to save money on snacks when I go to baseball games and she let me put two corn dogs in her purse. Not just any woman will hide corn dogs in her purse for me.) I’m the type of guy who believes in fixer-upper projects. She’s getting better. Sometimes I think I could marry her and other times I think I should just stay with her until someone better comes along.  Which way should I go?

Signed, Mr. Pros and Cons

Dear Mr. Pros and Cons,

The relationship you’ve described does not sound promising.  A nice body, a cute son and some corn dogs in the purse are not the building blocks for a lasting relationship. You don’t have enough material to forge a close friendship with this woman, let alone a lifelong partnership with her. You’re attempting to make something out of nothing, when all the improvements in the world wouldn’t be enough to make this relationship work.  The fact that you’re considering staying with her until someone better comes along should be your first clue that you’re not satisfied. If it weren’t for her son, would you bother dating this woman at all?  

I don’t know why you’ve set your relationship standards so low, but it’s time to raise your expectations. This woman is not a fixer-upper house that you can remodel into your dream woman. She’s a human being who will probably not change dramatically for the rest of her life. If the two of you have so little to build on after two months, when you’re supposed to be in your honeymoon stage, your best bet is to move on. You deserve more. She deserves more, and her son deserves more.  The longer you stay, the more painful it will be for everyone involved, especially her son.

If you have a tendency to save the women you date, might I suggest a healthier version of this scenario? Using the house analogy, if you’re the kind of guy who must make home improvements, I suggest finding a house that is already acceptable “as is.” That way, if you feel the urge to add a fresh coat of paint or change a light bulb, you can be sure that the majority of the house is already in good condition. In other words, stop dating metaphorical houses that need to be leveled to the ground then rebuilt by you. Lifelong projects are exhausting. If you must have a project, stick to literal houses, not people. No one is perfect, but there is a woman out there who’s right for you despite her imperfections, and yours.

Dear Rachel,

I have a baby face so I look young for my age. When I first met my boyfriend, one month ago, I told him I was 10 years younger than I am. Recently, I confessed the truth to him and now he’s taking a “break” from me because I was dishonest. My intention wasn’t to deceive him, but to keep from scaring him away. It’s not like I lied about something important. Besides, I’m an actress so I’m used to lying about my age for my career.  Everything between us was great. I don’t understand how he could throw away everything we have over something so trivial.  So I’m five years older than him and I told a white lie. What’s the big deal?

Signed, Baby Face

Dear Baby Face,

As a woman, I understand your concerns about aging. Society is definitely not as forgiving about our aging process as it is for men. However, I can also understand why your guy is upset about your “white lie.” I know the lie seems trivial to you, but this guy may fear that it’s a preview of future lies to come.  Maybe he’s had past experiences with dishonesty and you’ve touched a nerve for him. Or maybe he’s had bad experiences with older women. Whether his fears are legitimate or not, he may also worry that an older woman will want marriage/kids sooner and try to “tie him down.” Whatever his reasons, it’s up to him to decide if the connection you share outweighs his concerns.  

At this point, all you can do is apologize and hope for the best. You don’t want to talk him into dating you, especially if he can’t proceed without resentment. If you and this man are meant to be, this obstacle is just a bump in the road on your path to being together. As for the future, if you hope to attract honesty in your dating life, it must start with you.

Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: rachel@rebelgirlpublishing.com.

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