May 22, 2024

My New Favorite Advice for Finding & Building a (Mostly) Healthy Relationship.

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I have been in a committed, fulfilling, mostly healthy relationship for the past few years.

I say mostly healthy because we’re both painfully human. We make mistakes and push each other’s buttons and get caught up in our bad habits and damaging patterns from time to time.

But before I found my person, I spent years and years on a “long and winding road” (to quote The Beatles) of being happily single, desperately lonely and single, believing I’d always be single, and barely surviving a string of what felt like back-to-back relationships and situationships with men who couldn’t love me, wouldn’t love me, and who made me question whether I was even worth loving.

After one particularly exhausting interaction with a man who conveniently failed to mention that he had a fiancé (Don’t you just hate when that happens?), I decided that the way I was dating wasn’t working anymore.

It would have been easy, and understandable, for me to swear off men forever. But I realized that I didn’t want to be single forever—I just wanted to find someone who was worth my time. And someone who believed I was worth theirs.

So I did the thing that you always hear people talk about doing before they find “the One.” I made a list.

My list was long and detailed. It included everything I wanted in a partner, from physical attributes to personality traits to how they handle certain situations.

I read it and re-read it and promised myself that I wouldn’t settle for anything else. A few weeks later, I stumbled across my now partner on a dating app and swiped right almost immediately. That was more than six years ago.

Full disclosure: my partner does not check off every item on my list.

In fact, in some ways he’s the exact opposite of what I thought I was looking for. What I thought I needed in a relationship.

What I realized is that writing “the list” is only the first step in a truly unscientific experiment. What most of us are missing is what comes after we make the list.

I recently came across a video from pastor and professional speaker Michael Spence, who detailed a conversation with his therapist that opened his eyes to what he was doing wrong in his quest to find a partner.

His therapist’s advice is my new favorite tool, both for finding and building a (mostly) healthy relationship:


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“I was sitting down with my therapist and my therapist asked me, she said, ‘Mike, what do you look for in a wife?’

She said, ‘I wanna give you this assignment. Go write everything down that you look for in a wife.’

I said, ‘Alright…cool!’ And this was easy for me; I knocked this out. And she said, ‘Also, what I want you to do in that same day is write down everything that you think you need to work on as a man to become a husband.’

I’ll be honest bro, I have about maybe three to five things that I think I need to work on as a husband. But what I need in a wife, I have about 30. I had to flip it on the backside of the page.

And she never got to my list on what I need to work on. But all she said about my list on what I need for a wife is to become that.

I said, ‘Hold it! But look I got all this stuff here.’ She said, ‘I don’t need to read it. All I’m asking you is to become that. Because it’s a travesty for you to desire something from someone that you’re not willing to give or that you don’t have.’

So, instead of us focusing on finding the right mate, let us become the right mate. That’s one way you could attract it.”

It’s easy to say, “This is what I want. This is what I need.”

Most of us have spent years figuring out what we like and don’t like, what we’re willing to accept and what we refuse to put up with. But how many of us have spent that same amount of time doing the work to become the kind of partner we hope to find?

And why do we think it’s okay to ask someone for something that we, ourselves, are not willing or able to give?

While I don’t regret making my list, as it was the first time I allowed myself to be brutally honest about what I wanted, needed, and deserved in a partner, I’m grateful that the past six years have given me the opportunity to try and become that person for the sake of my partner, our relationship, and myself.

As someone in the comments section of Micheal’s post wrote: “Become who the person you’re looking for…is looking for.”


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