The Secret List All Women Have.

Via on Feb 5, 2013
Photo: Olga Palma
Photo: Olga Palma

Today at my therapist’s office, I spent my hard-earned money listing
 the qualities of my ideal mate.

The list is long and comprehensive,
and in some ways purposefully constructed to make the bar as high as

It has physical traits: he should be tall, big, with facial 

It has skills: he should be good with money, able to solve
 problems, highly educated.

It has attitudes: he should be impulsive,
playful, adventurous, driven and ambitious.

It has values: he should
 be service-oriented, family-centered, with his grounding coming from 
himself and his relationships with others. He should love my 
(Pakistani) parents, and my (almost all non-Pakistani) friends. He
 should be laid back but not a doormat, assertive but 
not a bully, ambitious but not a kiss-ass.

I think the list is short and coherent. My therapist thinks it’s
 lengthy and contradictory.

In her usual balanced voice, she
 proclaimed, “It would be difficult to find all these qualities in
 someone. You would have to compromise.” I wasn’t even remotely
 convinced. No compromise.

So I did what any woman would do. I got out, shaking my head,
 convinced she didn’t get me, and called a friend. A very wise friend.

He wasn’t always like that. In fact, he transformed from Don Anwaro to
 a Buddha with a six-pack, engaged to a woman he deeply loves. One day,
 out of the blue, his beating heart collapsed, and he fell to the 
ground gasping for air. Literally. He spent the next months in the
 hospital attached to a ventilator. The chances of him surviving were
 very thin. And then he came back. It’s a miracle.

He has seen the relationship between life and death and tread that 
fragile bridge. His perspective on life is larger and grander than the
 myopic world in which we live.

After patiently listening to my list, he said, “I had a list. My 
fiancée is very different from that, and I simply couldn’t be happier 
or more fulfilled.”

Jesse’s fiancée is a star. She stood by his bedside as he battled
 death. She stayed committed and loved him even when the probability of
 him getting up the next morning was smaller than two percent. She kept 
a brave, smiling face when all seemed to be going wrong. She rallied 
and organized his friends so they could channel their love to him in 
difficult times. She took time off from work and stayed with him and 
his family as things fluctuated. And then happily agreed to marry him 
as he recovered.

Jesse was gentle and non-judgmental of me. “Keep a list if that makes
 you happy, but know that the focus of your life should be on you. Not 
on him.”

That made me think. I did put a lot of power in this proverbial mate’s 
bucket. Perhaps I was asking the wrong question. Perhaps instead of 
focusing on how he should act, look, and think, I should ask how he
 should make me feel?

The process was quite similar. Here too, I had a list—a list of how 
I want to feel in the perfect relationship. From the question,
”With my partner I want to feel….” I trimmed a long list to three 

The discovered reality was beautifully simple: with my
 partner, I want to feel grounded, protected and stimulated.

In such a 
state my body relaxes, my breath becomes steady and deep, my heart 
opens, and my head buzzes with creative ideas. With him, I feel alive 
and open. I desire to sit with him, build something with him—a home,
a family, a project, my passion, his passion. The future looks 
exciting, something to look forward to.

This list isn’t as horrifyingly long as the previous one. It not only
 puts the power back in my hands, it also makes me feel more hopeful
 that I would meet someone who makes me feel this way. When I meet an
 eligible man I do not automatically run him through my list anymore,
 belittling his existence to some degree.

Instead, I spend time with him to see
 how he makes me feel. I give more fully of my presence to him. This 
makes me a better human being and cultivates a better relationship
 with people. The longing for the partner makes me want to connect more 
deeply to my reality and my body, so I am more attuned to how I feel.
 This list makes me happier.

I sit with many a friend in whining sessions as they pour their lists
 out. My friends are special and beautiful and amazingly sexy. No list
 of mate qualities is long enough for them. After all, these lists represent all 
that they desire. Yet I see drooping shoulders, sense broken hearts, 
and hear cracked, unsure voices as they voice these lists.

But instead of judging them, I pass along what I know. I say what 
Jesse said to me:

“The universe is wiser and more benevolent than any
 of us. Put the energy into you, for what you want is what you deserve
 in your life. He will come. And the list of qualities he has, may just surprise you.”


noor-masoodNoor Masood is a spirited neo-hippie, a lover of all creation and a devoted student of spirituality. After graduating from Harvard University in International Development, she  worked with the United Nations, World Bank, and Harvard University. When she is not researching gender, writing about politics or people, or teaching leadership and empowerment, she can be found learning Indian Classical singing, painting, teasing her family and friends, and meditating. You can connect with her on her new blog NoorMasood.  

Like elephant love on Facebook.

Asst Ed: Lori Lothian
Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive. Questions? info elephantjournal com



31 Responses to “The Secret List All Women Have.”

  1. LaDwye13 says:

    I loved this… thank you for writing it.. very insightful and a look inside ourselves. I do think it's true that what we contribute to the world comes back to us.. We spend so much time measuring, and not enough time "living"..

  2. I love this. I am so on your page. So many people spend time looking to make sure their furture mate has everything checked off on their list. When they find someone that has all of these qualities they still do not feel good. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. cdt says:

    Perfect for me!!! Thank you!

  4. howard says:

    What a little gem, Noor, thank you. I like that keeping the focus "on you" doesn't make you narcissistic, but instead turns your focus outward.

  5. Reanna says:

    Thank you for writing this. My favorite thing you wrote was "In such a 
state my body relaxes, my breath becomes steady and deep, my heart 
opens, and my head buzzes with creative ideas. With him, I feel alive 
and open. I desire to sit with him, build something with him—a home,
a family, a project, my passion, his passion. The future looks 
exciting, something to look forward to." You described what I have in my own relationship and I had to discard my list 3 years ago. Thank you!

  6. Noor says:

    Thank you for all this love my dears. I am so grateful to see this strikes a chord for you. :)

  7. Bill Berndt says:

    This is really heartwarming. Thank you.
    Those laundry lists can be really unfriendly. No one measures up.
    Opening my heart to my partner has been one of the most rewarding processes of my life.
    Being real, honest, compassionate is the best I can do.

  8. Helene says:

    I dated a lot of really hot guys, artistic guys, artists, yogis, bad boys etc. BUT… I married the guy with the 46 inch waist because the minute i met him i felt secure, comfortable and free of all the anxieties of wondering if he'll call me again, or am I pretty or smart enough to keep him interested in me. He is my rock. And he has become more and more the person i had on my mental list because he loves me. this was a great article!!!! tahnks!!

  9. Wow. You nailed it and gave me a reason to reevaluate my approach.

  10. liberatedself says:

    I loved this post because it does directly correlate with our relationships with ourselves. Self- contentment I feel plays a big roll in attracting a powerful unconditional love dynamic.

    I always kind of saw the list as a myth, because isn't this list "our idea" of what we want which is always going to be subject to change so in a sense we are putting up our own moving target to miss the mark at every moment. If we could set that down and let it go, like this author did, it no longer becomes a problem.

    Share love with what becomes attracted to you, and if nothing is there, the love we've already found within is shared.

    wonderful article! :)

  11. Amanda says:

    This is exactly what I needed today, Well done, Noor!

  12. fitness_fox says:

    I really loved this. Great article!

  13. Jinny says:

    That's great Noor, thank you so much. A different focus away from the impossible lists.
    Protected, grounded and stimulated! Sounds good to me :0)

  14. Eric says:

    Wonderful breakthrough, Noor. Now, you can take it one step further to:
    "even without a partner, I feel grounded, protected and stimulated"
    If you are able to first BE that, you will easily attract a similar partner.

  15. Fern Rainbow says:

    You created how you feel. You don’t need someone else to create how u feel or to shape your reactions within life. “Between stimulus and response, there’s a space. Within that space lies your peace & happiness”

  16. skink says:

    Years ago, after my first wife left me and our child, I made a list of what I needed (not wanted – needed) in a woman and life partner. It was hard to be that brutally honest with myself. I found that my wants and needs often overlapped. A woman to sit on the front porch and watch the sunrise with me; to sit on the back porch and watch the sunset. To laugh together, to smile as our children graduate, to hold my head as I cry like a baby when my parents pass away. To support me during the times I have to make a touch decision. To kick me in the ass when I need it (I have a procrastination streak). Among many more.

    I put the list in my wallet and carried it with me. Eventually, that woman and I found each other and it has been absolutely a wonderful time ever since.

  17. Paul says:

    Maybe I'm just confused or I totally misunderstood what your friend said, who I would agree with. "The focus of your life should be on you." What I take from that is–do your "work", "spiritual" work, cultivate the things you love, strive to be the best human being you can, etc. It seems what you've done is simply made a new list, but they're both ABOUT you. One is about characteristics and qualities , values etc. within another that would make you happy, the other is what you want another to do FOR you. Make you feel a certain way. The feelings you're looking for are created WITHIN YOU. How can you expect anyone to MAKE you feel a certain way, or even elicit feelings from you? And, 24/7? Even if they could is that someone else's responsibility? Otherwise it just seems like you're giving your power away. Wishing you the best.

  18. Torey says:

    Thank you Noor. Wonderful! As others have said …yes we should all be happy by ourselves, with ourselves, focus on being who we should be….but, as human beings we have a desire, actually a deep need, to connect with others. So for me I did not see this as giving power to someone else for how we feel but as an incredibly powerful way to tap into our own intuition as we try and find connection with others. You see my list was actually written out of fear…..I do not want to be hurt like I have been in the past, and surely someone with all the qualities on my list would not do this! But if I give up the list, give up the fear, and just see how I feel in someone's presence then I think Noor this will be very powerful. As you said the universe is wise, but the connection to that wisdom and the to the universe is within us, we just have to re-train ourselves to feel it.

  19. JohnH says:

    Noor, great article. I get what Paul is commenting on, but I also agree with you that you have to change your focus from aspects of the other person to emotional responses within yourself. Sure, the other is not able to control your emotions, but you can be aware of and in charge of what you feel in the moment, real time. Rather than looking for disembodied traits in another, pay attention instead to how you respond to and feel around that person. Relationship is a verb, not a noun and rather than looking for a partner (noun) notice how you feel partnering (verb) with that person. Life is alive and vibrant, not just a shopping cart to be filled. As a man, I would then feel more appreciated and less like a commodity.

  20. Feroz Gandhi says:

    So she went from writing what she wants her future partner to be like to writing what she wants her future partner to make her feel like.

    Solipsistic? Narcissistic?

    How about writing what kind of partner she wants to be to him? How she wants to make him feel? Maybe if she got her mind off herself for a while then she might actually meet that special someone.

  21. Naveed Farooqi says:

    Noor, very well expressed…………. "Grounded, Protected and Stimulated…..Actually three thoughts have it all, essence of life and charm of forever delight :)
    You are naturally blessed with blissfulness and I am pretty sure that you can or you would have by now discovered more and learned as well. Every woman has immense powers to create things for her, the art of constant stimulation, sense of protection and being grounded I wonder if three things have evolved or still is same :)

  22. Stephanie says:

    So true! The woman I fell in love with is nothing like who I envisioned I'd fall for. You know why? Because the person you love needs to challenge you and help you grow and become your true authentic self. Your best self. It ain't easy, but its real. Its fire. Passion. Enlightenment.

Leave a Reply