Divorce Wizards

High Conflict Divorce Mediation

When Mr. Wonderful is Mr. Right

By Jessica St. Clair, MS, MFT

I am finally happy with who I am and what I am doing and where I am going. Now to put the finishing touches on the second half of my life! I sat at the bar at the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, waiting for Mr. Wonderful #35 from my internet search. His picture escaped my mind; it must have been okay at first glance since it was I who responded to his profile. It was five minutes after the hour, where was he? Radar on, I scanned the area looking for eligible men. Boy, I have been here before and this was the last time I wanted to do this. This had to be the last time, I am 50 now and still have "it", I am told, but probably not for long. My kids are gradually moving up and out. I know myself. I need a man and am determined to make this future relationship work. So, where was the next applicant?

Looking at the clock jarred my memory; the mom in me took over for a minute and I ordered a pizza for my son. After this rendezvous, I would go home and feed the brood. But just for 30 minutes, I wanted to see if I could make another step to relationship heaven. I continued to reflect on this manhunt thing. Thirty minutes is really all it takes to make a decision. It is said that you can tell if someone is right for you in the first five minutes. So, 30 is plenty to learn, to be sure and to finish my drink! I say learn because each meeting teaches me more about what kind of man I will finally choose. Boy I wanted this to work.

I love to be in relationship with a man. I finally see how my mistakes in the past when selecting men have contributed to my divorce and subsequent failed relationship and loneliness. Oh yea, the kids are my life and have taken the majority of my time and effort in the past EIGHTEEN YEARS. I dedicated myself to them and loved every minute of it. But I don't want to be alone and now my last child graduates soon. As it is, I spent last New Year's Eve alone. Therefore, I have a plan and am going about systematically selecting the man I will marry. Now, where is this guy?

The previous 34 applicants were interesting. The first two were mistakes, flukes, my introductory adventures in internet dating. #1 called me and asked me out to dance but he was way busy on the phone in his competitive sales office. He was direct and analytical. Now I know why. In this internet dating arena, one has the advantage of interviewing prospective candidates and matter-of-factly, choosing a good one. There is really no offense meant or taken. If you know who you are and what you want, then, you get good at making quick decisions for the right reasons. He was simply assessing me over the phone to see if he wanted to spend his time and money on me. I passed his first level of questions and he asked me out. I met him at a fancy bar with a dance floor. Upon meeting, I knew he was not for me but since dating as an "old bag" (term of endearment bestowed by Mr. Right) was novel for me, I decided to play it out. I was charming and accommodating and interesting. That was a total mistake. The experience reminded me of those old feelings of insecurity and not being good enough that plagued my post-divorce recovery. Then, to top it off, he wanted to kiss and grope in the parking lot. Okay, that was my first internet dating class and I got the message. I did not call him back as he requested. He called me two months later for another try. I deduced that he was hard up and I declined.

Then there was #2. I still had not signed up for the internet service, these people had and they were able to contact me as a promotion. This time, my adult daughter accompanied me on the tryst; since my family was horrified I was using this method to meet a man. That reminds me, how is one to meet a man? Save that for another article! Anyway, this one was identified as a loser from the get go and my daughter told me to leave immediately. Since the therapist in me also looked at this adventure as an experiment and since I wanted to learn how to navigate the system, I did not heed her advice. Well, after five minutes he wanted me to sit on his lap and grope me. More sex; that was the end of that. He even used argumentation along with humiliation to get me to give in. On to number three.

Number three will always be dear to me, but I will not marry him. We met on the internet and developed an intense relationship online, writing back and forth long before a personal encounter. That created a basis upon which we built a wonderful friendship. He was not altogether honest in his writing however. Some of his lies were intentional. For example he is older than he stated and he did not reveal health problems. Other lies were out of ignorance. He lacks insight into his dilemmas. Aside from the fact he is not interested in marrying; he is distracted by his sports and work. I fell for him for some good reasons and it took me too long to see that he was not a candidate. So, lesson number three, keep to the plan and do not dally if you see those pink flags. Above all DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR SOMEONE and stay out of pity. I adore number three and he fit, sort of and I was encouraged. Onward.

Number four is also a dreamboat. We also talked for hours on the phone and internet. Humor was our glue. In the end, I was too tall for him, too athletic, too motivated to succeed and too interested in marriage, according to him. Bummer. He wanted a lover and companion and a smaller woman! The problem was that we hit it off, just like with number three. He was smart and strong and I liked him. However, he took me out to dinner to kindly and gently tell me that he was too afraid of another failure and I was a 5 on his scale of one to ten. He simply could not continue in our budding relationship because he knew it would not work. WOW. I was beginning to get the hang of dating after 50. That hurt my pride a bit but he was right. Next.

Number five was a friend of a friend and he fit my criteria very well. I was pretty sure after two dates that I had found my man even though the first five minute rule told me he could not be a serious contender. Because he fit the financial and stability criteria on my list, I tried to make it work. I should have listened to my intuition and followed the rules. After date number three, one pink flag came up. A week later flags two and three flew. I put him on notice, again, because the good seemed so good. Then, flags four and five surfaced. Now they were red and I was in trouble and I had to cut it off. By that time, he was madly in love with me and the pain I had hoped to spare him by rationalizing the pink flags was only more intense.

So, where is the sex in all of this? All of the men I met wanted it, as soon as possible. Being 50 or more, they were beyond conventions and prohibitions. I was too. But I have learned that it is timing that makes the difference. Physical pleasure is not enough for women and I suspect men too. It is relationship and intimacy that makes sex great. So, timing is everything and even though I like sex as much as anyone, I really want intimacy. If I get close to the intimacy stage with a man who is not right, then I will be depressed when the relationship dies and parting will be more difficult. I had to keep my goal in sight: marry the man. More on that in the next article.

In all, I approved ten men beyond the first interview. Through process of elimination with strict adherence to my criteria, four made it to the second level. The pressure of coming together and learning about each other beyond manners and good behavior eliminated two quickly, that is to say within a month. The other two are in the final level. Now, to decide on Mr. Right.

Here Are Tools that Have Worked for Myself:

  • Employ the pink flag rule. We all know what the red flag rule is-take heed and run. The pink flags are the annoying or suspicious actions or comments that pique our interest and seem off just a bit. They are the ones we rationalize away or try to ignore. DON'T DO THAT. If you see pink flags flying, trust your instincts and move on to the next prospective mate. Sure, you might lose the goodness of that potential relationship but it will not outweigh the bad. You will eventually move on anyway, so why not in the beginning before there ARE hurt feelings.
  • Treat the meeting as a job interview. You are looking for a specific person. Make a list of your "Must Haves" and "Can't Stands" as suggested by Dr. Neil Warren. Start assessing the person in terms of your needs and wants and be very picky. For example, I employ the three strikes rule. If an applicant for my company has three hits on my ding list, he is out, no matter how sexy he is! The delay is when he has one or two strikes. Then it is tricky because I do not want to look for fault. I keep my positive filter on our progress. But try as I might to see the good, if three of his ordinary actions come up pink, he is out.
  • Be clear and honest from the beginning, both with yourself and your applicant. My best relationship began that way. I simply announced that I was looking for a man with whom I could live the rest of my life, married. While I will take my time finding him, that is my goal, not dating for the sake of dating. That statement eliminated several applicants. Good for me.
  • Listen and watch. Be objective and brave. Keep your list in your pocket and pull it out frequently. If the chemistry is there with Mr. Wonderful, make the choice to go on based on your criteria, not your emotions and insecurities. Don't be afraid to say no. It is only logical that since there are millions of men on the planet; one will be the right fit. Besides you are attractive only as a complete and integrated person, capable of living alone if necessary. Your mate just compliments you, he does not complete you.
Use Dr. Warren's list of 29 attributes. Apply them to your prospective mate's personality and character and behavior. Problems in any of these categories mean trouble down the line.
  • Good character
  • Know yourself
  • Absence of emotional red flags
  • Anger management
  • Obstreperousness (tendency to find fault)
  • Understandings about family (children)
  • Family background
  • Intellect
  • Energy
  • Spiritualityr
  • Education
  • Appearance
  • Sense of humor
  • Mood management
  • Traditional vs. nontraditional approaches to life
  • Ambition
  • Sexual passion
  • Artistic passion
  • Values orientation
  • Industry
  • Curiosity
  • Vitality and security
  • Autonomy vs. closeness
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Sociability
  • Adaptability
  • Kindness
  • Dominance vs. submissiveness
In the end, I saw him; Mr. Wonderful #35 was across the room looking for me. When our eyes met, I knew he was the one. That scared me because he had characteristics of my previous husbands. I know the kind of man to whom I am attracted. So, you can bet that I have applied my lists and methods to the letter and so far, he has passed! I think it is because we are both healthy emotionally and physically, and we are both honest. I think he is Mr. Right, what a find.
Jessica St. Clair, MS, MFT, is a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor with over thirty years experience working with families and children. She is a therapist, credentialed teacher and qualified child custody evaluator. Jessica has worked with hundreds of families to prepare them for custody evaluations as ordered by the Court. Jessica is a woman of great empathy and has helped many children cope with the turmoil divorce creates in their lives. Jessica practices in Newport Beach and Santa Ana, Ca. She is the leader of Planet Divorce and Parenting Wizards, both joint projects of Divorce Wizards, Inc. and Newport Beach Family and Psychological Services. You may reach Jessica St. Clair at 714-568-1111 or

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