Quick question: You're a single guy, let's say in your late twenties to mid-thirties, with a decent job, given the choice between the following two single women to date; which one do you choose?
Choice A: A real-world-hot 28-year-old receptionist on her fourth job in three years, who lives with two roommates in a fifth-floor walkup in some outer borough, aspires to someday have a job that gives her either free shoes or health insurance, and only sounds like an idiot when she speaks out loud.
Choice B: A real-world-hot 28-year-old BigLaw lawyer (I know, just go with me here) who paid off her school debt by herself in three years, lives alone in a doorman building in Manhattan, is funny and down-to-earth, and runs a small, successful side business selling artisanal cupcakes that she bakes in her spare time.
Clearly, you choose Choice A. Why? Because, if the status quo in my firm…and in my life…and in my friends' lives…and in any bar from New York to L.A. is any indication, a law degree confers about as much romantic value to a single woman as a meth habit and a hidden penis.
Don't believe me?
Let's replay a quick conversation I had a couple of Thursdays ago with my friend Stein, a graphic designer in his late twenties who I'd set up with a third-year finance associate at my firm who's so pretty and fun that I still half-suspect that she's not actually an associate, but really an actress posing as a lawyer for some kind of (horrifyingly sad) new reality show. As soon as I asked Stein what he thought of her, he scrunched up his face in consideration.
"I mean, she's cute," he said, still scrunching. "Hot, even."
"She was actually really funny and cool."
"It's just that…" He cocked his head to the side and started grimacing. "It's just that she seems…really together, you know? I just…I don't know. I think we're maybe in different places."
And there it is.
Different places, indeed. See, it used to be that lady lawyers took a hit in the dating world because the J.D. badge meant that you were probably too nerdy or "argumentative" or just a puffy, hideous troll. But this new strain of rejection dispenses with such frivolity. This time, the hotter you are, the less appealing you become. This time, ladies, you got it wrong. Again. You're sexy, funny and charming and worked like an animal to get into the best law schools and nab the highest paying jobs in the world's most elite lawyer factories so you could be financially independent and could pursue a guy for love, not for his ability to support you, but…no dice. Turns out, they like you better when you're more of a disaster. (But not to worry, according to the latest reports, if you can't provide that full disaster experience for them, they'll cheat on you with someone who will-so, you're covered either way.)
Sure, a few guys-the smart, if not more Darwinian, types-realize that at its core, dating an ambitious, fun woman who can pay her bills (and theirs!) and who isn't, say, a crack-whore, isn't a bad thing. They realize that maybe, just maybe, one of the upsides of dating a woman who's more successful than they are is that, at the very least, they know that the only thing she wants from them is…them.
For the rest of you guys, though, what are you so afraid of? That you won't be able to take care of us? That you'll be emasculated? That we'll think you're a loser? Tell you what, here's when we'll think you're a loser: when you're a loser. And if we're interested in dating you, then you're probably not a loser-at least not to us. I mean, really, is it so impossible to believe that a cute, successful woman would be interested in a cute, not-as-successful man? Are you really that insecure?
Apparently, yes. So, for you guys out there, the ones who think that a lady J.D. isn't worth your time because she's just too successful, too intimidating, too together, let me clue you in on a little secret on behalf of the together-est of together women lawyers everywhere-though, be warned, it may titillate and/or confuse you.
We're not really that together.
I hope you were sitting down for that one. See, like most folks perceived as having tidy, charmed lives, we're the same unhinged wrecks that you are; we just hide it more efficiently and have better accessories. True, we have enough sense and ability to manage to get out of bed every morning and do something productive-or at least lucrative-with our time, but that doesn't mean that we're winning any gold medals in the Race to a Perfect Life.
If you still don't believe me, you're clearly not too familiar with the parade of horribles that is this blog. If you were to meet me, your Legal Tease, at a party, you might think that I'm just the epitome of lawyerly togetherness. What you wouldn't see is that most of my non-existent spare time is spent rocking back and forth in a ball under my desk at work, praying for a time-machine. Nor would you see that my most promising recent relationship basically amounted to rolling around on the floor of my office with a certified lunatic whose idea of courtship involved offering me a position as his mistress via drunk 11 a.m. voicemails made from the inside of his girlfriend's coat closet. And that's just the low-hanging fruit. Intimidated yet?
And I'm not alone-an unofficial survey of the hottest, most together-seeming women lawyers I know yields: a recent hush-hush hospitalization for a nervous breakdown, a second abortion, a serial mistress, bulimia, boob job number three, a foreclosed mortgage and a broken engagement. Oh, and bedbugs.
So, take heed: The next time you meet a graceful, shapely, six-figure-siren who has a white shoe pedigree and lights up a room with her sparkly, charming wit, instead of running in the other direction to your man-cave of insecurities (or more likely, to your unemployed hook-up buddy in Astoria), take a deep breath and realize that this untouchable legal goddess probably has IBS, cries herself to sleep at least once a week and wonders how much of this year's bonus she should use to freeze her eggs. In other words, go get her champ! Trust me, you have nothing to lose.
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