It’s no secret that my guilty pleasure is curling up to a good Hallmark movie.
I know they are cheesy and predictable, but you know what else they are? Heartwarming. They are feel-good love stories.
They start with someone cruising along having a good life and then hitting a pretty significant bump in the road. I think so many of us can relate to that story.
And what happens next? They learn to deal with it. They take the hard knock, maybe wallow in self-pity for a minute and then they get right back up. They figure out how to cope, and they always find love along the way.
It’s also no secret that I’ve had some hard knocks along the way—career change, divorce, single parenting, online dating. Obstacles have presented, and I’ve been hurling myself over them like a gold-medal winning Olympian. And you know what? Still single over here.
I haven’t updated that f*cking relationship status once. And, yes, I know that my standards are high, as they should be what with my gold medal-style leaping over life’s challenges. And, sure, I could have settled a time or two, or tried to make something work that wasn’t for me.
But I didn’t. And, yes, I’m still annoyed that I’m single.
In the interest of full disclosure, most of the time I’m quite happy to be single. I love my life. I like the structure I’ve created, the activities I do with my children. I like to have lots of free time to myself after my children go to bed. I would say that 75 percent of the time I’m perfectly happy to stay single.
So what about the other 25 percent? Well, I’ve never had a truly happy, healthy relationship. I thought I had one a couple of times, and I was bitterly corrected. So, yes, I would like one of those. It would be nice to be coupled, and while I’m accepting applications, there are some exclusions that apply.
For example, smokers need not apply. It’s just not a habit I can be okay with at this point. No judgment, but I do prefer non-smoking partners.
Also cheaters. People with a past history of cheating and/or lying will be asked to exit the interview immediately. I’m far too honest, trustworthy and loyal to be in a relationship with someone who’s not any of those things. And our past behaviors are predictors of future behaviors most of the time. Sure, people change, but people who have not yet taken accountability for their actions are not interested in changing.
Those of us who are happy with our lives aren’t going to lower our standards just to update that relationship status. We may actually even raise the standards since we’ve settled in the past. Because we want more. We want the intimacy and connection of a true partnership, or we’re perfectly happy to stay solo for now.
So what are we looking for?
Clearly, this cannot be a universal list, but here are a few things we might be looking for in that Hallmark-style boyfriend (or girlfriend):
Attraction and chemistry. Yes, I’m starting with a physical attribute. We may be attracted to different types of people, but attraction is still important. It just can’t be faked. That’s why I think it’s so important to determine early on if there’s chemistry or not.
Intelligence, because it’s sexy. Yes, I said it. Intelligence is a super attractive quality in a significant other. It’s essential to be able to have intelligent, even like-minded conversations with our partners.
Sense of humor. Now tastes will differ here. I, personally, do not go for the corny jokes or slapstick style humor. But I love wit and banter. I’m a sucker for that stuff. I even speak fluent sarcasm. We really want to be with someone who makes us laugh and finds us funny as well.
Affectionate. Tastes will differ here, too, but I like a partner who is physically affectionate. I dig cuddling. It’s just my favorite. And I want a partner who can verbally and physically express affection. It can be as simple as holding a hand or letting me rest my head on your shoulder, brushing a hand over my hair or placing a hand on my lower back as I walk into a room. If you’ve heard of Love Languages you know that people feel and express love differently, and we need to find someone who can speak our particular love language.
Happiness. I recently read a book where it talked about finding a mate who is a happy person, and it was like a light bulb went off. Yes, this! We want someone who is mostly happy. A person who sees life as an adventure, a joy. We don’t want to be weighed down by someone who never sees the good in anything.
Healthy Self-Esteem. It is not our job to make you feel good about yourself. It is your job to do that. Those with low self-esteem need not apply because we’re happy and secure in ourselves. We want a partner who realizes that it is his or her responsibility to have and maintain healthy self-esteem.
Emotional Availability. Our Hallmark-movie style partner must be able to feel emotions, express emotions and not run away screaming when we feel and/or express emotions.
There are so many factors that go into relationships, and when we’re looking for a real relationship, we’re just not going to let it all slide for a pretty face. We‘ve come to a point where we’d rather embrace our outrageously fabulous single lives than spend a single moment with someone who doesn’t add anything to our lives—or who only adds anxiety, frustration or annoyance.
And when we’re looking for that real relationship, we need to be honest with ourselves about the type of partner we become in a relationship. Are we mostly happy and body positive? Are we emotionally available and honest? We need to make sure that we can also add something positive to someone’s life and not just be a source of anxiety, frustration or annoyance.
Hell, we want the Hallmark movie-style partner, but we can’t expect to have that if we’re bringing a ton of baggage to the table.
I’m not saying we should be these perfect human beings, but I am saying that while we’re spending all this time with ourselves, we can genuinely take the time to know ourselves: who we are and what we want. Not just for a significant other but in order to create the lives we want to be leading.
We can’t keep saving all of that for when the perfect person enters our lives. So we need to review our list of requirements and see if we’d qualify if that list were put to us. Because when we’re awesome enough to hurdle all of the obstacles that life throws our way and still come out stronger than ever before, we need to be strong enough to take a good hard look at the kind of person we are and see if there are changes that need to be made.
And in the meantime, we’ll take those applications and keep an open mind. But more importantly we’ll keep an open heart.
We’ll make a little space for the unexpected. But we’re not going to lower the standards. Not now, and not ever.
This isn’t a game of limbo, and we aren’t interested in seeing how low we can go. We’d much rather have someone who can leap those hurdles of life right alongside us.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Sara Kärpänen