What Most Men Consider Spouse-Worthy (If We're Being Honest)

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woman and man holding hands

I remember when I was sitting across from the table with one of my now-exes.

His name was Rodney, and he had basically sat me down to tell me that it wasn't going to work out long-term, but that he liked the way I treated him so we could date until he found something better. Ouch. 

I was in tears. I didn’t understand. He was attracted to me, I treated him like gold, and this is what I got for all that?

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I got up, left the restaurant, and went to my mom’s house to cry my eyes out. I didn’t understand why this kept happening to me, while all the preppy girls who were aces on the cheer squad seemed to get guys falling over themselves to commit. It just didn’t make sense to me.

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I told my mom what happened and she didn’t seem the least bit surprised. This perplexed me even more. My mom, being blunt as she is, dropped a bomb on me at that moment.

“Kid, most men don’t marry the woman who treats them the best. They marry the one they can take home to their mother,” she said. “They want status. You didn’t bring that to Rodney’s circles. He’s a fratboy, you’re... well, you’re kinda eccentric.”

Without a word, I gave her a look and ran into the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. She was right; even if I am a great partner and would be a loving wife to guys, guys typically don’t care about that. They want someone they can flaunt. They want a wholesome type of woman who is feminine, classic, and “respectable.” That's what men want in a wife.

My reputation for being a party-hardy girl was one that has become kind of notorious. I’m not Betty Cheerleader. My hair isn’t blonde (or brunette); it was, at the time, a hot pink with black tips. My clothing is urban streetwear, mixed with designer labels. I wear bondage collars on a regular basis. At that moment, my nails were painted with tuxedo designs.

In a word, I looked like I belonged in a rap or techno music video rather than a wedding photo. Rodney, whether he admitted it or not, liked me — but was embarrassed by me. I stuck out like a sore thumb among all his cookie-cutter, whitebread friends. Even if they liked me, deep down inside, I knew I just didn’t belong.

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Here’s the thing: I refuse to change my personal style or lifestyle choices to please other people.

Being an artist and a creator is what I do. It’s who I am at my core. I’ve tried, time and time again, to be someone I’m not — and it never works. If I have to change how I dress, what hairstyle I have, and what I do to please someone else, they don’t like me. They just like the fake packaging I came in for them.

I’m not Barbie. My personal style is who I am, and, to a point, I can’t actually get creative or excited without being dressed that way. Dressing in the classic “Betty Buttertoast” way makes me feel sick to my stomach, irritable, and like I’m cheating myself. As an artist, not being my strange, weird self would be akin to committing suicide. Besides, if people can’t love my weirdness, I don’t really want them in my life.

The funny thing is that I know that there are guys out there who are in communities where a person like me would be considered a status symbol and I also know for a fact that there are men out there who would kill to have a devoted and caring spouse. After all, every family is different, and so is every social circle.

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My place has always been among graffiti artists, writers, musicians, fashion designers, or even just blue-collar folks who view their craft as their own art.

I hang out with free spirits, not people who go by regular conventions. If I date someone who has that in them, I will be way more likely to be seen as a trophy status.

But let’s go back to the story of what happened between me and Rodney.

From that day on, I never spoke to Rodney again, even though he had tried to apologize for his behavior.

But I had heard through the grapevine what has happened to ol’ Rodney. Because of a series of awful things he did to others, he later got estranged from his family, gained weight, and began losing his hair. He’s now stuck in a job he hates that he can’t quit because he got so in debt trying to look “acceptable.”

Funnily enough, Rodney tried to tell me he wants to commit to me now. Frankly, I don’t want to hear it; I don’t want to be seen talking to someone like that.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, New Theory Magazine, and others.