Dear Umbra,

I long to have a partner join in (or be excited and supportive) when I participate in an environmental event, or write a well-researched and poignant letter about a pressing environmental issue. I have broken off three serious relationships in the past few years because I decided the men were not environmentally sensitive enough. Where does a nice, smart chick like me meet a nice, smart, environmentally sensitive activist?

Ottawa, Ontario

Dearest Edelweiss,

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I read your letter to a friend and he said, “Hard core — good for her.”

I had a slightly different take on your situation. From your brief description, you sound as though you expect your man to come fully formed as Fantasy Boyfriend.

Love stinks.

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Photo: iStockphoto.

Fantasy Boyfriend is nice because he affirms us by being mostly exactly like us. A particularly strong point of FB is his ability to get excited by activities such as writing a poignant letter to Delta and Pine Land. FB definitely does not need to learn about issues that are important to us, because he already is steeped in said issues.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that Fantasy Boyfriend (and Fantasy Girlfriend) is the product not just of Fantasy, but also of Self-Deception. Although you may find a boy or girl who happens to love poignantletterwriting — I bet you already know some — it is likely they have some other fantasy-puncturing components, like, I don’t know, can’t cook, hate cats, smoke, blond. My belabored point is that FB and FG do not exist for most normal, neurotic people — not because nice wonderful people are not out there for us, but because our fantasy comes from a childish part of our mind that invents perfect paragons rather than thinking of growing, changing people with whom we will make mutual relationships.

I currently believe that the best companion is someone with whom we get along and have enough in common to feel good, someone we love and who loves us enough to become interested in our passions even if they are not their passions. Someone we think is nice. Maybe I’m naive. I think if someone is nice but ignorant on environmental issues, there is a probability that they’ll learn from us and become an environmentalist. Especially if they’re in love with us. I just have to assume that those relationships you broke off had problems other than eco-grooviness.

Alright, that’s it for the baked beans of wisdom learnt in my own personal basement of the soul.

As to the logistics of meeting nice people, I report a few tips learnt from friends. If you use an online dating site (they recommended Match, Salon, and eHarmony), use a variety of search terms. Here are some other ways friends have met their mates: at work, through friends, speed dating, Craigslist, ultimate games, ushering a play, high-school reunion. Basically, if you are an active, open person, you’ll probably meet someone you like. Even if you aren’t an active, open person, you probably will. It’s partially luck, partially patience, and partially a numbers game. Just be sure you tell your guys right away about your No. 1 Fantasy of environmental compatibility, if it continues to be a deal-breaker. Persevere, and you will prevail.


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