This is the second in a column series I wrote for Red Deer LIFE, the Sunday edition of the Red Deer Advocate, beginning in February 2004. Column 2, published in LIFE on February 22, 2004, introduced the column’s participants and the concept of the six-month challenge.
Women ponder their ideal mates
Photo and story by Faye Bayko
The exercise was a simple one but like most simple things in life it held a powerful message. With scissors and glue we cut and pasted images of men into our scribblers that best represented the qualities we were looking for in a mate. Beside these images we wrote short phrases that further described these qualities and then added little, gold stars.
While the creation of a collage is part of any grade-school art class, these collages were created by five women working on focusing their energies on a single goal: opening themselves up to the possibilities of love.
“There are no cowboys,” said 67-year-old Jessie. “I like cowboys.”
I acknowledged the oversight in my supply of pictures and promised to bring an image of a cowboy to a future meeting.
The group of five women, each representing a dating decade, were at my home for the second of what would become regular two-week meetings as we progressed together through this experiment in dating.
The point of the collage was to provide a visual tool to assist us in deciding who it was we wished to bring into our lives. Jessie already had a very clear idea who that person was. The cowboy image, though physically absent from her collage at the moment, came through in the other qualities she had pasted in her scribbler.
For Suzanne, evening dress, fine dining and sunsets dominated the pages of her scribbler. “I want to come out from the shadows,” she explained when asked about the emerging theme.
No matter the individual’s theme, the creation of a collage helps hone the subconscious mind toward achieving the goal expressed on paper.
“I think (a collage) would be a first step,” said Kathleen Kelly, psychology instructor at Red Deer College and private practitioner. “Maybe a person has never even thought, ‘What am I looking for?’.”
When we are you, Kelly said, we are focused on our desire to be accepted and, therefore, our relationships are based on external criteria. As we age the focus shifts internally and we look for partners suite to us. Have you ever stopped to think what’s important? What are you looking for?”
Most people spend more time planning their weekly grocery list than they do in deciding who they want as a mate, yet the choice of a mate can greatly determine the direction and success of their life.
While the exercise was fun and pulled the participants together in a shared evening of laughter it also provided an opportunity to look inside and hear what their hearts were telling them. The answers found glued in their scribblers were surprising.
Copies of an image of a man in work shirt and jeans with a tool belt hanging off his hip made it into each of the participant’s scribblers, speaking of a desire in the female heart, no matter the age, for a man who could fix things.
A discussion on how advertisements shaped what was considered an attractive male brought out the different expectations of the five dating decades the women represented, which for me, emphasized the importance of the experiment.
Recommended reading: Expect a Miracle – 7 Spiritual Steps to Finding the Right Relationship by Kathy Freston.
At 23, Dawn represents the first decade of adult dating. She is the supervisor for a local recreational facility with the goal of one day managing it. Like all the participants, her schedule is full but she would still like to set aside time for a special someone. Of course, if you have the to-die-for dimples and curly locks of Corb Lund, you won’t need a bottle of Tequila to get this girl partying.
This 32-year-old represents the second decade of adult dating. Lynn’s goal is to become an events manager and her present career path is right on target. Heart-wise, she is looking to settle down and start a family but is not interested in entering a relationship with a ready-made one.
The most adventurous of the five participants, the sensitivity of her heart surprised me.
Michelle is 49 and at the end of the third decade of adult dating but she has the youthful energy that plants her closer to the beginning. With three grown children she is at a point in her life where she can start to refocus on herself. Active in the art community she is also pursuing her interest in dancing and is looking for a partner as open to trying new things as she is.
At 50, Suzanne is at the beginning of the fourth dating decade. She is coming out of a two-year hibernation she entered in order to heal some old issues and to separate from her identity as a mother.
As a music teacher she too is very involved in Red Deer’s art community and is approaching this experiment as the next step on her journey.
Sixty-seven-year-old Jessie is the clearest of the five participants. Representing the fifth decade of adult dating and the final group this column will be dealing with, she knows exactly what she is looking for and is willing to try almost anything to achieve it. With a strong background in country singing, her man had better come with a Stetson and cowboy boots.