Doormats, are you listening?
There was this girl I knew back in college who wanted a guy who never had a girlfriend before. She hadn't had a boyfriend before either and she wanted a relationship that was as virginal as herself. "We'll discover the ups and downs of being in a relationship together," she'd say, "We'll both learn things as we go along."
Somehow, that idea never worked for me.
Back then, I wanted a man who'd been around the block at least once. It didn't make sense to me that both people in a relationship should be greenhorns. If a guy has been with a woman or two before me, I reasoned, he'd know how things worked. Physically, emotionally, whatever.
Over the years, I've refined this understanding into a single, simple equation:
A man is the sum of his ex-girlfriends.
Women leave impressions on the men they've been with. A man's behaviour, his opinions, the way he treats women, the way he behaves in public around them - it's all moulded by his experience with the women he's been with before you.
If his ex cheated on him, he'll take time to trust you. If she was a high-maintenance ice princess, chances are he'll pamper your ass off, because in his head there's a certain standard that needs to be met. In fact, you may get some bonus affection simply because your demands aren't as high as hers.
On the other hand, if his ex was a doormat, sister, you've got work to do. You'll have to start from point zero, teaching the man about the certain standard that needs to be met. You'll have to take him gently by the hand and tell him in no uncertain terms that anything doesn't go with you. Good luck with that, by the way.
And if his ex was a warm, loving, caring person with whom he shared a mature, respectful and passionate relationship, well, then first of all, you're going to have to keep an eye on her for the rest of your life. But the good part is, hopefully, their relationship would've taught your guy how to be nice and considerate and all that other Mills & Boons hero type of crap.
So ladies, I have an appeal for you, on behalf of all other women:
Please train your man well.
Teach him how to be kind, how to listen, when to shut up. Teach him to help around the house, be sympathetic during PMS and patient during chick-flicks. Tell him what works in bed and what will earn him brownie points out of bed. It's a lot of work, but if he's a good learner, you'll reap the benefits yourself in time.
And in the unfortunate event that your relationship doesn't work out for whatever reason, well, then you're sending out a well-trained man into the world for the benefit of the other women out there. Karma being what it is, that should bring a well-trained man to your door one day.