“He likes too many pictures of girls in bikinis,” my friend lamented one afternoon, as we walked through the park. Feeling disheartened from what her social media stalking had turned up about her most recent OKcupid find, she needed a vent-session. It seemed that her suitor’s interest in beach bodies was not the only thing upsetting her. “He doesn’t text enough – and he hasn’t had a COVID vaccine yet.” Listening, I couldn’t help but notice my own internal response. The truth was that none of these things would have bothered me – at least not to a level that would make me turn down a future date with someone to whom I felt a genuine connection.
As I processed this, I couldn’t help but think back to the criteria I had drafted for my ideal partner many years earlier. I’m sure many women can relate to this… Who knows where the advice originated from, but so many of us have been told to make a list of criteria that your “perfect” man should possess, so that the Universe will listen and kindly offer him up to you one day.
So, when I returned home, I went searching for that old list. Upon finding it, I was immediately surprised by its length. It was certainly a tall order! Perhaps less surprising was just how superficial my 22-year old self was… Amongst the ridiculous requirements, my eyes were drawn immediately to a simple note that read: “must drive stick.” Okay, but WHHHHYYYY? Had I been conditioned to think that real men could drive stick? Was I just impressed with the ability since I don’t know how to do it, myself? Or, did I just find it sexy, which in and of itself wouldn’t be a bad thing, had I not decided that it should be an absolute prerequisite for dating me.
Being a few years older now and having reflected on the topic a bit more, I thought it would be a fun exercise to clarify what would be important to me for a future partner, nowadays. Because, I suppose the advice to sit down with yourself and think about such a thing isn’t really bad advice, after all. So, here it goes… what I hope to be a more succinct, mature, and slightly more evolved list:
- Kindness: someone who is generous in spirit. The type of person who actively listens and can demonstrate empathy; someone who not only extends that kindness to me, as his partner, but also to others.
- Self-Reflective: someone who takes time to introspect and cares to work on bettering himself; a person who cares about acknowledging patterns in his life that have been both healthy and unhealthy, and has a commitment to developing himself into a better human.
- Embraces Independence: someone who can tolerate being alone. As a person who values my own space, having a partner that also appreciates some solo time and does not take offense to me claiming some, too, is critical. I would like to be an addition to someone’s life, but not made to feel as if I have become the totality of their existence.
- Faithful: someone who is trustworthy. Although ideas of faithfulness or loyalty usually get associated with upholding standards of monogamy (which is important to me and certainly a part of this quality), I would extend this trait further… My ideal partner would demonstrate faithfulness in a broader context, as well. Can I trust him with my secrets, vulnerabilities, and insecurities? Or, will he weaponize those things against me? Having a sense of being with a person who has “my back” is necessary for me.
- Calm Presence: someone who reminds me of my own authenticity. A person that I feel I can be myself with – and a person whose presence encourages that authenticity. Finding a partner who holds space for me to figure myself out, and show up with honesty, is crucial.
- Drives Stick (an asset – strongly preferred, but not required 😉)
Well, this was a fun (and meaningful) practice. If you decide to try something similar, here would be my recommendations: keep the criteria focused and short, so that you are really targeting what is truly important to you, rather than having a laundry list of “nice-to-haves.” Also, ask yourself how many of those qualities you feel that you share. If you can’t reciprocate the things you want from your mate, is it a fair ask that they possess them? Finally, try not to be too rigid. Hopefully a condensed list will minimize this, anyway, but remember that sometimes God or the Universe has a different plan awaiting you.