Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 20-year-old woman and have been on the dating scene for about six months. Sometimes, it seems like the right man for me just isn't out there, because my vision of the "right one" doesn't fit anywhere close to any guy I have dated. How can I know whether the right man has come along?

Rachel

Dear Rachel,

Start your search for a potential husband by discarding the images of "Mr. Right" that you've been carrying around in your head. Otherwise, you'll constantly compare the flesh-and-blood men you date with a fantasy, and none of them will ever measure up.

There's another reason why it's not wise to compare the men you date with an ideal. The person that you marry will probably have positive qualities you never factored into your imagination, and may have a few undesirable traits you realize you can live with because they are vastly overshadowed by the qualities you value.

We suggest that you make a list of all of the qualities you think are important in a future husband. Those characteristics that define a decent, honest, caring human being are "givens" -- we all want to marry someone we think of as a mensch.

Now look at the other qualities on your list. How vital are they? Things like looks, height, hobbies, side-interests, career goals and educational background are much less important than long-term life expectations that are compatible with yours. If you limit your list to qualities that demonstrate he wants the same general things out of life as you, your pool of prospective suitors will be more in tune with the type of man you'll eventually marry.

How do you know when you've met "Mr. Right?" Contrary to what movies, TV and novels often tell us, you usually won't know you are right for each other until you've gone on at least a dozen dates (and often many more than that), during which you've gradually built a trusting, communicative relationship. So, at the risk of giving you a "quick fix," here are some questions to determine if you have a healthy, caring relationship that can form the foundation for a good marriage:

  • Do we respect each other?

  • Do we each see qualities to admire in the other person?

  • Are we physically attracted to each other?

  • Have we developed emotional intimacy?

  • Do we have affection for each other?

  • Are our goals in life compatible?

  • Does he seem to be a good person, with personal qualities and values that are important to me?

  • Do most of the people who care about me and whose judgment I trust share my belief that he is a good person?

Good luck, have fun, and don't forget to send us a wedding invitation!

Rosie & Sherry