If you’ve dated long enough, you probably have one. I mean The Man Against Who All Others Are Measured. (For men, it’s The Woman Against Who All Others Are Measured. But we’ll take this from the female perspective because that’s the one with which I’m most familiar.)
It was probably when you were young. You went out with what seemed like just another man. Only you dated for longer than usual. Three dates turned into four turned into five turned into six. You really liked him. You enjoyed his company. You shared his values. You could really begin to see a life with him.
Then, out of nowhere, he dumped you. For murky reasons you couldn’t understand. “I don’t think this will work.” Or, “I’m not feeling that spark.” Or, “I’m not ready yet.” Or, most inexplicable of all: “I just don’t think you’re the one.”
You were devastated. Bewildered. Hurt. And worst of all: wronged. Because he was wrong. You went so well together. You were meant for each other. The more time passes, the more convinced of this you become. His blemishes faded with time or acquired the glowing charm of eccentricity, while all his best traits shone with an ever stronger light. And nobody – absolutely nobody – measures up to him.
You go out with other men. Lots of other men. They’re not as tall, not as bright, not as nice, not as funny, not as handsome, not as successful, not as promising, not as courteous or gallant or sartorially sophisticated. You go out with them once, and then, just to be sure, you go out with them again. But no, they’re still not as tall, bright, nice, funny, handsome, successful, promising, courteous, gallant, or well-dressed. Truth is, they’re not even your type. Not what you’re looking for. You know what you’re looking for. Because once, long ago, you found it.
You let them walk you to your door. You let yourself in. You tramp slowly up to your room and slump on the edge of your bed. And you think about Him. The Paragon. The Man Against Who All Others Are Measured.
You tell yourself that one day he will realize his mistake. He’s been dating for a few years. You know this, because you keep tabs on him. Sometimes you even walk down his block. Just in case he’s looking. You know that soon it will dawn on him, and he’ll realize what he gave up. He’ll secretly ask someone to suggest that you go out again. You’ll say, “With him? We’ve been out already.” You’ll consider it, nonchalantly. And you’ll say, “Oh sure, why not.” And wedding bells will ring.
But until then… you kick off your heels and peel off your tights and go to sleep without taking your makeup off.