This is probably my most personal post to date.
One night, while browsing the internet at work, I came across the blog Green Beans and Little Things. I thought it was really cute, but as a single, childless gal, I don’t really follow blogs like this one. However, the bloggers have a great eye and I liked their photos, so I stayed and browsed through the blog. The pics of their little girl are really sweet. I started having a strange feeling in my chest while looking at them… and then I found this post. At the end of the page, I just sat there and let my mind run away from me.
Their pics are funny and cute, and you can clearly see how affectionate, goofy and playful they are with each other. But what stood out to me was how extremely comfortable they are with each other, and with themselves. Its evident that they love each other just the way they are, that their individual selves are enough.
Suddenly I felt utterly blind for the way I’ve been evaluating men for a potential relationship. I thought about the items on my List, and felt that I’d been focusing on all the wrong things. By the time I got home, I was in tears. But good tears, cleansing tears, that made me feel like the weight of self-blame had been lifted from my chest.
Why Do We Write Lists?
Ladies, I’m pretty sure you know what List I’m talking about. You know how we all have a list of the qualities, physical attributes and material possessions that we use to judge the men who are interested in us. Basically we’re outlining what we think is the perfect man for us and comparing the men in real life to this list. It usually includes items like height, skin tone, the type of career a man has, the kind of car he drives, if he has a degree and other attributes that seem important to us.
Now notice I wrote “what we think is the perfect man for us” and “attributes that seem important”. Before coming across that blog, I thought that as an educated, ambitious, attractive young woman, I am entitled to a man that brings the same attributes to the table as I do. From conversations I’ve had with friends, I see that many of us in our late 20s and early to mid 30s feel the same, that if we are attractive, educated and ambitious, that our mates should be too. In addition, I’ve heard lists that sound like this: “he should be at least 6’2″, dark skinned, with a bald head, drive a luxury car, own his own home, have at least a bachelor’s degree, and work out 5 days a week.” The main thing is, how many men like that exist? But more important to this post, is that those attributes aren’t really important to a successful relationship.
How does the grade of a man’s car and his height factor into your happiness? We should be focusing on a man’s honesty, willingness to settle down, ability to compromise, and other factors that he will utilize to ensure that our relationship with him is a healthy one. Instead, my generation focuses on the physical and financial profile and much less attention is paid to the psychological aspects that compatibility depends on.
Ultimately, my epiphany that night was that I was demanding that God/the Universe bring me a person that I felt was deserving of me. That if I worked so hard to build the life I have so far, that the man who is ‘right’ for me should be worthy of this life. This isn’t trusting, it isn’t faith that God/the Universe has your best interest at heart. Having this list of attributes comes from a place of fear and insecurity that you’ll receive less than what you deserve from a mate.
This Is Not Settling
Now all that I’ve written so far is well and good, but you may be saying, “ok is she tossing the List because she’s still single?”. Not at all. I’m tossing the List because its a defense mechanism that allows me to write men off before I get to know them and really evaluate whether they’d be a good fit for me. Its so much easier to say “well, he’s only 5’8″…oh well” than to actually observe who the man is and accept the fact that it might or might not work out. Its easier to use this stringent list that really doesn’t relate to dating, and insulate your emotions from disappointment if a courting situation doesn’t work out.
Well, this is a new year, and I ain’t livin’ like no punk. You shouldn’t either!
Where To Go From Here
So my strategy is now to start from the center and really know how my personality works. From there, I’ll evaluate the men who are interested in me by their personalities and the qualities I need for a successful relationship, not what I find physically attractive in a man. Also, just because the List is gone, doens’t mean that items like income requirement and physical health aren’t important. They are for evaluating the quality of life we’ll have together, but beyond that, veering off into the superficial has not served me well at this point. I want to start intelligently judging from my heart, not from a superficial list. And anyway, if the List was such a good idea, why hasn’t it worked? Has the List been effective in your love life? If not, then why don’t you join me?