Find Yourself a ‘Late Bloomer’

For many of us, our high school years were pure “hell” in terms of dating. Unless you were one of the popular kids, your high school dating experience probably contained all the angst of a 1980s John Hughes movie.

Let’s face it: more guys identified with “Duckie” than with James Spader’s cool kid in “Pretty in Pink.” Or we related to Anthony Michael Hall’s nerdy but sensitive character in “The Breakfast Club.”

Everyone knows that for most girls, Molly Ringwald was THE female icon, especially in “Sixteen Candles.” I am sure many girls had no trouble relating to Molly’s embarrassment when her character’s Grandma Helen announced “Fred, she’s gotten her boobies” and Grandpa Fred responded “I better get my magnifying glass.”

The box office success of those movies, as well as the growing popularity of “nerd getting the girl movies” released in recent years demonstrates that there were a lot more of “us” than “them,” when we were in high school.

Yet high school is also when most people develop the dating patterns and images that all too often remain with us for the rest of our lives. That is why so many adults, when single, dread the prospect of entering or re-entering the dating world.

Yes, I maintain that most of our fears and insecurities that many of us carry throughout our adult dating life stem from traumas that occurred during our middle and high school years.

Of course the opposite holds true for those chosen few who were “royalty” in high school …; the captains of the football and basketball teams, the head cheerleaders, the Homecoming Queens, etc.

For the most part those popular kids developed an inflated self image that may have also produced negative consequences while trying to develop and maintain positive relationships as adults.

For example, take the high school hotties who were early bloomers, perhaps as early as middle school or even elementary school. From their early teen age years on, they had no trouble attracting the attention of the opposite sex.

I remember when a neighbor of mine, who had matured early and consequently became the star of several sports teams AND our class president, mentioned to me that the following morning in school he was going to “announce” who his next girlfriend would be!

I recall being absolutely astounded at the time, especially at the matter of fact way that he told me about his pending decision. After all, I was one of those guys who would have been thrilled if any girl just smiled at me.

So what do you think the odds were of that early bloomer eventually developing into a caring, sensitive, husband and father? . Basically the high school jock mentality translates very easily into the adult “player” who pinballs from one relationship to another well into his 30s, 40s, or even 50s.

Or how about those girls who “blossomed” early, dazzled with a perfect complexion, and had no trouble attracting male suitors who stumbled over one another for the opportunity to escort Miss Popularity to the house party where the “in crowd” hung out most weekend nights. Do you think many of these princesses eventually developed the empathy and compassion that goes into a meaningful long term relationship?

So, here is my suggestion to those single and divorced adults still looking for their life mate. Find yourself a “late bloomer.” You know the skinny awkward girl with zits in high school who nobody wanted to date, or the chubby girl with braces who had not yet shed her “baby fat.”

Or the guy who was the geeky science whiz or debate club captain who later learned as a young adult that the best way to attract women was to develop a great sense of humor and a sensitive, caring personality. Of course many of these guys probably also did very well career-wise, while maintaining a low level of self confidence when it came to playing the dating game as an adult.

Relationships and dating never came easy to these people, and as a result they (OK, we) had to work hard to attract members of the opposite sex.

In my matchmaking experience while running a dating service and later working for eHarmony.com, I often found that the easiest to match people were the men and women with the most realistic and flexible expectations. And most frequently these were NOT the best-looking men or women.

But they were people with down to earth and unpretentious personalities…who smiled easily and did not come across as cocky or egotistical. They (we) eventually realized that the quickest path to a successful relationship involved humor, warmth, and the development of good listening skills.

Some adult singles are basically far too picky, and I suggest that many of them are the grown-up versions of the popular group of kids that the rest of us both envied and loathed back in the day.

So here is an interesting question to pose when communicating with someone on-line or on a first date. Just ask which member of “The Breakfast Club” they identified with back in high school.

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