Longform

LOVE AS A CONTRACT SPORTWHEN BUSINESS AND ROMANCE MERGE, CUPID PULLS A CORPORATE TAKEOVER

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The women stress their drive and purpose. In her bio, one female executive lists what she wants in a man: Commitment and financial security are first and second on the list; friendship is down at number six, sense of humor comes ninth and last.

The men package themselves in Hallmark greeting card messages about quiet walks on rainy days to show their sensitivity. One warm, smiling face pops out of the directory, a ray of hope--until you reach the second sentence of his bio: "I look great in all types of attire, especially bicycle shorts," it says. One woman in the same dating service who had been called by him practically screamed, "What kind of man says that? It would be like me saying I look great in a spandex dress halfway up my butt." She would look great, actually, but that's not her point.

@rule:
@body:More tales from the unexpectedly dateless: Jeanette is a model and a rocket scientist. No kidding. She's 25, a former beauty queen with classic California good looks and, needless to say, just a bit intimidating. She likes men who will walk up to her unafraid and strike up a real conversation. She'd love to ditch her high-powered career to have children, but her last boyfriend pushed her aside for his own career. She joined Great Expectations to meet other men and forget him.

Kim is a corporate VP who, at age 31, earns more than $50,000. She works a 50-hour week, works out two evenings with her personal trainer and then spends the weekends dealing with dry cleaning and grocery shopping. She is tall and dignified, with big green eyes and a businesslike spiked hairdo, like Melanie Griffith wore in Working Girl, but what she wants to be is in love.

She tried a matchmaking service--until it sent her a recovering drug addict just out of a halfway house who bragged that his apartment was furnished with boxes, and that he could fit all his worldly belongings into his Plymouth Duster. It was not a match.

She joined Great Expectations to meet someone blond, six feet tall, who will respect her and listen to her, "Someone who would call in sick to work just to come out to play with me."

"I don't think I'll find someone to meet all my criteria," she says, discouraged. In fact, she tends to find guys who have more important things to do. "Women are the disposable parts of their lives," she says philosophically. "Business is the important part to them." Just like Jeanette, she'd like to blow business off altogether and have children, which is not what high-powered executives are taught in business school.

"Men," she says. "I don't think they place women in their top five concerns. They don't have a clue."
And maybe she doesn't, either. And maybe men and women are different species from different planets.

Or maybe there is hope.
@rule:
@body:Amy is 22, tall and lanky, with Julia Roberts looks beneath lots of strawberry-blond hair. She holds her arms tightly in front of her, and the body language is crystal clear. She's talking about the horrors of dating. She works in a small office with older married folks, and wondered where she'd ever meet anyone. She took a classified ad in the paper, got 50 responses and was afraid to answer any of them. Then she came across the Most Eligible Singles Directory while flipping through the phone book, signed up, and then immediately regretted it.

One afternoon she got a phone call from an embarrassed fellow that Lynda Johncock had prodded into calling. The only thing they had in common was how stupid they felt for joining a dating service, but they talked about that for hours. Phil called again, more than once. "We didn't expect anything to happen, so we developed a friendship," Amy says.

The first thing she realized when they met face to face was how little he resembled the ideal mate she had dreamed about. This was someone she never would have talked to if they met in a bar. "I would have thought he was a meathead," she says, "a big football-player type who thought he was God's gift to the world."

The marriage is set for October.

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Michael Kiefer