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Friday, April 7, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 128

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Exercise caution when choosing a mate

Melanie Melançon

Advice for the lovelorn draws from age-old advice gathered from countless grandmas, aunts and moms -- and every now and then a man.

First of all, we're young. Even you college professors out there who aren't married yet. I knew a guy who got married in his '80s to a woman who was very close to his age.

The point is, there's still time. Just because that certain someone broke up with you or because it didn't work out for whatever reason doesn't mean you have to give up. Take the time to be angry, cry or whatever you do to let go. Then let yourself be free to meet new people and try new things. But maybe be a little more aware of your situation next time. Don't try to make lifelong commitments before you're really ready. And don't feel you have to settle down if you're not sure it's the right person.

How do you determine the right person? Well, it takes more than love. They say don't marry someone you love, marry someone you like. Well, of course you're supposed to have both, but you can't have just one. You won't be happy.

What else? Make a list. List all the qualities you want in the person you want to be married to. Then list them in the order of importance. Don't break up with a person because he or she doesn't quite meet item No. 82. But, if item No. 5 is seriously lacking, perhaps you should consider the quality of the relationship, if you can be happy without No. 5, and if you should just keep looking. Now, if No. 1 is missing, I'm hoping you aren't wasting your time anyway. A few drinks and some laughs are OK now and then.

Don't stop there. After looking at your significant other, look at the relationship itself. Make the same lists. If your significant other has No. 5 but only in business relationships and not with you, perhaps some discussion is in order.

It's easy to give advice. But this isn't my advice, this is age-old advice from people who were happy they were smart or wish they knew then what they know now.

My opinion of this advice the first time I heard it was that it sounded like a shopping list. I was told that in a way it was -- you're shopping for your perfect mate. You might not find the perfect fit, but if you know what you're looking for you can get pretty close instead of finding out how bad things can be later.

Sometimes it's better to end things before they get too involved and don't work out.

Also, don't assume getting married will solve your problems. If it's a problem before you're married, it will be a problem after you are married. Jealousy, laziness, family rivalry, messiness and selfishness don't end when you ask them to. These are traits people can work on, but you should decide whether or not you can live with the person before you get married. You are not going to change that person. It's not because your lover doesn't love you enough, it's because that's the person he or she is. Just like you aren't really going to change all the bad habits that annoy this person of your dreams.

Now, I'm not preaching. I'm just sharing what people have shared with me and what would probably help me out if I actually took the advice. My last considerable relationships were missing items in the top 10. If I'd listened to my doubts and my loved ones, I'd have saved myself a lot of heartache.

But, you live and you learn. I don't think we should regret relationships we've had or things we've done. We should be thankful we've had the opportunity to gain experience. I know I am.

Melançon, who should learn to take good advice, 
can be reached at mrm58655@bayou.uh.edu.

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