“It isn’t sufficient just to want—you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
Have you ever felt really negative about dating and love? All you can focus on is what you don’t want in a partner, instead of focusing on what you do want.
Initially, I was hell-bent on writing a frustration filled tirade after seeing so many amazing women in my life waste their energy, love and time on guys who aren’t the greatest of men.
Oh, who am I kidding, these guys suck. Each one of them possessing unfavorable traits (dishonest, unfaithful, unreliable, manipulative, abusive). Seeing my fellow sisters sell themselves short is my Achilles heel.
Why such a tender spot? Why do I even care?
You see, I know their pain all too well, from personal experience. It pains me to see the people I love get hurt. Nothing right can come from Mr. Wrong.
Trying to practice patience and understanding, all the while biting my tongue. Witnessing needless drama and heartache unfold. Understanding all I can be is a good friend by listening, providing support and staying out of it. Remembering, that was me not too long ago and realizing we all have to learn life lessons the hard way.
Promising myself I will never put myself in that position again led to spending the last two years committed to developing a healthy relationship with myself. Learning to enjoy my company first, before deciding to jump into another relationship. Figuring out what I wanted in life was a priority, then asking myself do I possess the very traits I am seeking in another.
Finally figuring out what I want in a man.
Setting some ground rules, expectations and boundaries for myself and future suitors. With the encouragement of a girlfriend, I drafted my very first “Love List” about four years ago. A “Love List” clearly outlines what qualities and traits you are seeking in a partner and/or relationship.
I’m laughing now, as my first list had nearly 75 must haves. Seriously, it was totally ridiculous. Who hasn’t had a long list of requirements, but later discovered it might be limiting us when looking for love?
Not too long ago, a friend of mine, visiting from out of town, was over for dinner. As I was a seasoned online dater, she asked me to help her create a dating profile on a popular singles website. As we were inputting her desired date’s age, income, education, hair color, ethnicity, hobbies, children, religion, career, single or divorced status and geographic area, we soon discovered that she only had no matches in the entire DC area.
It hit me in that moment that I was doing the exact same thing too: always complaining that there were no men living in Hawaii. I was wrong. You cannot custom order your partner, as if you were selecting your next car. Love doesn’t always work that way.
At one point, I only wanted to date men who held college degrees, like myself, but soon realized having an advanced degree didn’t even matter. Since then, I have dated both men with high school diplomas and post doctorate degrees. Love doesn’t care where you went to school.
What if you only dated someone 6’1’’ and above and missed out on amazing man who is 5’10”? Maybe your true love has a receding hair line, but you are dead set on dating only blondes. Do you refuse to date anyone five years older or young than you? Maybe your future husband is six years younger than you. Not a runner, but you run marathons? Oh, well, say adios to father of your children? Do you see how ridiculous this looks?
Maybe we shouldn’t be so picky with our lists and embrace flexibility. We may have preferences, but perhaps it is time we focus on the deal breakers when finding love. Let’s focus on what really matters when looking for a partner.
Like any good plan, revisions and rewrites are expected as conditions change. Dating an extensive variety of men, three post-divorce relationships and a few manbaticals (a man sabbatical if you will) in the mix, helped me develop a solid framework on which I want to develop a meaningful relationship.
As I was driving home the other day, it suddenly hit me what five basic areas that must be included in my Love List and what I am looking for in a man. I like to call them the 5C’s: Chemistry, Clear Communication, Commitment, Compassion and Compatibility.
Finally, I was taking love seriously and my Love List 2.0, was a far cry from my earlier shallow list, of educational background and physical traits. Four years into life as a single woman, I knew I had to revise my game plan in order to come out victorious! I needed to be clear on what I wanted, what it looked like and what I expected out of a relationship.
1. We flirt, play and enjoy each other’s company. Emotional, mental and physical connection is a priority.
2. Physical attraction is an absolute must. Especially behind closed doors. Passions on top of passions.
3. We leave little room for miscommunication. We feel comfortable to express our thoughts freely and respectfully.
4. We actually talk on the phone, go on dates, etc. versus meaningless text messaging. A man who can pick up a phone to call to say hello and tell me he is thinking of me is great start.
5. Committed to love all my awes and flaws through the good times and the bad times. It’s life! It ain’t perfect. After a recent breast cancer scare, I kept wishing that there was someone by my side who would be there with unconditional love and support.
6. A one woman man who makes our relationship a high priority. Fidelity is essential. Cheating is selfish. I rather be single if that is the case.
7. Loves his family. This is a great indicator how he will love your family. My son is my family. Eventually, when I find someone I want to build a future with, I want to know he has a good heart and will love my son unconditionally.
8. He has a compassionate heart for everyone around him. Does he volunteer his time? Will he be there if someone is in need? Now that is someone that is really attractive.
9. We need to share some hobbies and activities in common. I never said all. It’s about creating bonds.
10. We just click and overtime we grow to be best friends. If you are entrusting your heart and life in another, wouldn’t you want that to be your best friend? He should be your confidante and number one supporter.
Despite some really bad dates, unfruitful matches and moments of wondering if I would end up like Miss Havishim from Great Expectations, I believe there is a very good partner out there just for me somewhere. It is out there for you too.
Start figuring out what you want in life, love and start penning that list. Be specific with your intentions and in due time you will manifest a quality partner to share your life with.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Kevin Jarrett/Flickr