You know how some women love a project? A closet to do over, a friend to make over, a bathroom to remodel. Well, Olivia was one of those nonstop do-it-yourselfers. But it her case, the project wasn't a room or a house. It was men.
"I have straightened up, molded, educated, reformed, enlightened and motivated my last nine serious boyfriends," the 38-year-old says. "And I'm tired."
Olivia says she was drawn to men who would be great, if only ... The "if only" usually involved sprucing them up in some form or another. With some of her old boyfriends, Olivia had to tweak their appearance — take them shopping, introduce them to her hairdresser, explain the upside (as well as the downside) of waxing, tweezing and tanning.
With others, Olivia had to nudge them off the couch and out of their comfort zone. She'd take them to museums, art galleries, ethnic restaurants and foreign films.
With still others, Olivia took a can opener to their closed minds. She'd buy them subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, take them to seminars and lectures.
"It seems like each one of them had a lot going for them, but they weren't quite perfect. I likened them to a semi-polished stone that I knew could shine a whole lot brighter."
The reaction to Olivia's tinkering was always one of two things. Some men politely (or not so politely) said, "Thanks, but no thanks. I'm happy the way I am." Others were eager for her suggestions.
"I remember one guy I dated. He was from a suburb and had never really spent any time in the city other than a field trip when he was in grammar school! When I first started taking him into town, he was very uncomfortable not knowing his way around.
"But as he became more familiar, his confidence started to grow and it spread to every aspect of his life. I could literally see it happen. The relationship didn't work out, but we've kept in touch. He started his own very successful consulting business and now has a lovely wife and three children."
That's how it goes. Sometimes Olivia's relationships end when the men, groomed and socialized, decide to move on to someone else. Sometimes Olivia gets bored and ends the relationships.
"I'm drawn to guys who need affection and encouragement to come out of their shell. They seem to be drawn to strong, take-charge women like me."
"But, Olivia says "something happened when I hit 35 or so. I got tired of taking on men as projects. You know how people want to move into a house where everything has been done — the kitchen, the bathrooms, the floors and cabinets? Well, I'm at that stage. I want to meet a man who has it all together. I'm tired of fixer-uppers. I want a guy who — if he were a house — 'move-in ready.'"
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