Honestly, I didn’t know it would work.
I mean, I’ve used writing as a tool of manifestation for years—often, with great success. The thing about relationships, though, is that there’s such a deep-seated blindness to the reality that we’re dreaming of a version of perfect that doesn’t actually exist. And while manifesting jobs and houses and travel and money is a relatively finite project, people change and grow. We evolve…sometimes away from our partners, which is exactly what happened with The Dude.
I think the list-writing started as a form of therapy. I needed to clearly define what I wanted in order to be sure he wasn’t it. I wanted our relationship to work so badly, and I thought if I tried hard enough, if I was the perfect soul version of myself, maybe it would. After years of painful struggle, though, my perfect partner list helped me see that it wasn’t me. It wasn’t him either. It was the relationship. We were just two souls moving in ways that were incompatible with the future I wanted. The kind of relationship I wanted.
In the years that followed, I’d pick up my pen and notebook time and time again to clarify my path—my dreams. Without even looking at the previous pages, I’d start again, with a slightly more evolved sense of self, a slightly more refined vision of the life I wanted to live. Thus, the lists evolved into an analysis. As I more deeply understood who I was, I began to more deeply understand what kind of person would complement and support my joy.
I found empowerment and bliss in my life as a single woman. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I wasn’t going to settle for less. But I was going to enjoy anything (or anyone) that crossed my path and sparked joy in my romantic life. A reality I enjoyed for several years and actually planned on continuing—perhaps until the end of this lifetime.
As is often true, however, my soul self had other plans. In my travels abroad, I’d met a particularly incredible man. Two years, six trips, and countless “messages” from the universe later, I was preparing to move to his hemisphere to see what a life together might look like.
Half a decade after leaving The Dude (the love of my life), I was headed for another relationship—with an imperfect man, in an imperfect situation. I won’t pretend I wasn’t nervous vacillating between questioning my decision and believing solidly in its “right-ness.” But when I ran across my notebooks amidst the piles of moving boxes and read over the scrawled words and phrases in my journals, I grinned broadly. A wave of relief washed over me as though the universe had reached down to give me a reassuring touch.
Reading through the lists, I discovered they were now the qualities I loved in my partner. And in exactly the moment I’d needed the reminder, there it was. On paper. The universe brought me exactly what I wanted, even though it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. The love we share is exactly the kind of love I’d wanted.
I’d never imagined my manifestation lists would be anything more than guideposts for me as I navigated the dating world. I believed (still do, always will) in the power of manifestation, but I also knew that my record for manifesting good-for-me partners was not great. And obviously, there’s no way to say this partner, this relationship, will be any different.
However, I can say that it feels different. That the life of joy I’d wanted is much more accessible with him because we’re so much more compatible. I can say that our love feels deeper and genuinely unconditional. I can say that after much reflection, I think a lot of it had to do with “the list.”
So here’s my short-and-sweet version of doing it for yourself.
1. Write the list. Get really clear about what you want in a partner. Remember to focus on how you want to feel with this person. Feel the joy that this kind of relationship will bring you.
2. Put the list away. Seriously, in a place where you won’t run across it by accident. You don’t want to obsess over the little details every time you encounter a potential partner.
3. Write another list. It doesn’t need to be similar; in fact, it may be better if it isn’t. Trust that you are further along your path of personal growth than you were before and your priorities will have changed. Put this one away too.
4. Ignore the lists. For me, this was largely a function of my wandering mind and sporadic journaling habit; I just kind of forgot I’d written them. But I also think it was key in bringing me this particularly wonderful partner; I always said I couldn’t have a long-distance relationship. I always said I wouldn’t date a man with a child. I never even imagined the possibility that my perfect partner would live in another country. The universe (you—your highest self) brings you what’s right in your life, even when it doesn’t look anything like you thought it might.
5. Occasionally pull out the lists. This effort brings perhaps the most unexpected bonuses of the whole exercise. When things are hard in my life and I don’t feel like I’m making any movement toward what I really want, these lists remind me that I’m powerful. I did it. I manifested this wonderful partnership. And when things are hard in the relationship—when I’m mad at him or I feel too far away or life throws me a curve and I question everything—I pull out (or just think back to) the lists and that day on my couch when I realized we had exactly the kind of relationship I wanted.
He possesses the qualities I want—and need—in a partner. He is exactly what I want. He’s also human. So am I. We’re going to navigate rough waters. But the life I want is not just possible with him; it’s probable. And we work through tough stuff well together. That, my friends, makes all the difference.
Side note: This is still a useful exercise if you’re already in a relationship. Try to come from a place of neutrality. This is not an exercise in criticizing your partner. It is, however, an opportunity to think objectively about the qualities you want in the person with whom you are sharing your life. Even when it doesn’t feel perfect, there’s a good chance this person embodies a lot of the things you want in a partner.
Take the opportunity to celebrate the fact that you created this relationship with this person. Then celebrate (aloud and to their face, please) the wonderful qualities that make them so special for you.
Perfect partners don’t exist. Perfectly compatible ones do, and you deserve that. You’re powerful enough to create that, even in existing relationships. Sometimes, just remembering to celebrate why your partner is special is all you need to respark a little of the magic that brought you together.