What is on your list?

What is it we look for in a partner? We talk about the looks… handsome, nice teeth, big hands, taller than me. We talk about desired qualities and attributes… smart, funny, hardworking, thoughtful. We may have specific desires… a pilot, drives a truck, likes dogs, is Jewish. These are all just items on a list we want to check off so we know we’ve found the right partner for ourselves. But what if they don’t meet the criteria? What if he’s shorter than you, has never read a novel, or has a cat? Are those really deal breakers? I don’t think so. He could have every single item on your list but still not be the one. There are so many things that can’t be defined in a list and many things that could be more important than crossing off all those items on your list.

There are people who have a “Must Not” list. They must not be blonde, or must not be an accountant, or must not have children. Those people aren’t really focused on what they do want, but rather on things that they had in previous failed relationships. The first girl who broke your heart was blonde so you won’t ever date another blonde. Your Dad was an accountant and he never expressed his love and affection so no accountants for you. You treated your step-parents horribly and don’t ever wanted to be treated that way, or you want your partners primary focus to be you without being “distracted” by other things, so no single parents.

My mother used to tell me to fall in love with a man who doesn’t already have children because they will never like you and their mother, his ex-wife, will always be a part of your life. Excellent advice from someone who has since spent more than 25 years with a divorced father of two and ex-wife from hell. It was nice advice to give and I’m sure she really felt that way herself at one time, but she still went against her one major rule and it turned out okay. I don’t like the man personally, but my Mom is happy with him and that is really all that matters in the end.

We all want to find someone we are compatible with, someone who shares similar life values. Maybe that’s how we came up with that list in the first place. Some people have a written list, like I do, and some just have a mental picture or list of what they are looking for. You can’t say you don’t because we all do it. We all have relationships that end and we decide, whether consciously or not, that the next person we date or consider having a relationship with has to share some of the same qualities and do better on others. The thing about it though is that something that annoyed you with one partner may not annoy you with a different partner.

It’s like the difference between your Dom telling you you’re a “good girl” and someone else saying it. It means something when he says it but it doesn’t mean a thing when somebody else does. Or when you didn’t like how aggressive a previous partner was but crave that aggression in your new partner. Or how one partner thinks you find it difficult to orgasm but another can bring you there in mere seconds, sometimes simply by a command to do so. Or even how the sound of snoring drove you batty with your ex but lulls you to sleep with your current partner.

There are two main things we need to realize, that every person is different and thus our reactions to them, and that we are constantly growing and evolving. What may have been a show stopper for me at 23 is not even on the radar at 43. Sometimes it does work the other way and things that I never thought to notice are now the first things I consider. That is what happens as we evolve and grow as human beings, as we become more confident and certain of ourselves and what we know we deserve. We don’t need to settle for less than what we deserve, less than what makes us truly happy, but we learn that true happiness is more a state of being than a state of having.

So, about this list of yours. Should you keep it or throw it away? It depends on what makes up your list. If you are looking for a blue-eyed, blonde haired, left-handed Rhodes scholar who prefers Applejack to Rainbow Dash, you may want to chuck that list and make a new one. If you are looking for someone who is compassionate, supportive, silly, can be the D/ to your /s, and loves you as you do them, then I suspect you are on the right track.


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