No, I’m not talking about health habits or work goals. I’m not even talking about the list of characteristics you want in a potential mate. I am talking about the list characteristics you absolutely could not tolerate in a significant other. This is the most crucial list you’ll ever make.
I’ve been involved in online conversations where women are discussing what they want in a man. Some of those lists can get quite extensive. I mean, when there are 25 items on the list, I want to remind the list maker that while that person may in fact exist somewhere on the planet, the odds of her finding that person decreases with each new detail she adds. And while I have never been in such a conversation with men, I have heard men express positive preferences for what they look for in a partner. We all do it to some extent.
How many times have you heard a friend say, “OMG! I found the perfect man (or woman)!” and they proceed to list all the things they like about that person. Then 6 months later, the relationship is falling apart because the dude drinks like a fish and reminds her of her alcoholic uncle. Suddenly, the fact that he’s got a great job, drives a fancy car, and cries at the same chick flicks that she does simply can’t make up for this one thing. The drinking was there from the beginning, but she ignored it because he ticked all the positive boxes on her list. But the reality is this one thing is a deal breaker and a relationship that should not have been started in the first place falls apart. Or even worse: it doesn’t. And they live unhappily ever after.
Or the guy who has found this hot chick — she’s a knock out, great in bed, but she totally hates sports and is pissed off when he wants to watch the game instead of spending time with her. While great in bed makes him want to hang on to the relationship, the reality is, he will never be able to watch sports in peace for the rest of his life.
Why would anybody put themselves in that position? We never do it intentionally, but in our search for companionship we tend to focus only on the positive part of the equation.
Using myself as an example, when I found myself looking for a potential partner at the ripe old age of 50, my first consideration was eliminating those whose behaviors I couldn’t abide. One of the virtues of being older was my practical experience on such matters. Ahem. My list looked like this:
- Must not be extremely moody. I loved my father dearly, but that man woke up in a new world everyday. Just no.
- Must not use me for an emotional punching bag because he’s had a bad day. I have had several family members who seemed to think it was perfectly all right to treat those they are supposed to love like crap simply because they weren’t happy about something that happened before they even got home. Nope not about to put up that.
- Must not be controlling. Any time one person tries to cajole, coerce, shame, or otherwise unduly influence another person into a course of action, he (or she) is being a controlling asshole. It’s manipulative and has no place in my life.
- Must not be overly religious. I’m an atheist.
As you can see, the list isn’t long. However, it eliminates broads swaths of the population.
And yes, I did have a list of positive characteristics, but they didn’t even come into consideration until that first list was satisfied. My positive list was shorter than negative list.
- Needed to be basically happy and satisfied with life.
- Needed to have a sense a humor.
I was pretty sure these two positive items eliminated the rest of the population. Seriously, I wasn’t at all sure that the person I was seeking existed, but would have gladly continued to live alone rather than welcome the wrong person into my life.
Happily, I can report that guy does exist. I married him! We have been together for 4 years, married for 3 1/2. I have never been happier. So how long did it take me to find him? A couple of years. A couple of years of dating -which I absolutely hate. It wasn’t a fast process by any means. But the results have been fantastic!
Michelle got married for the first time at age 52. Yes, it took her that long to find the right man. (In fact, she hadn’t been sure he existed at all.) Seeking life on her own terms with her beloved husband, she is curious about a great many things. Her educational / work background is in medical lab technology, business, and tax accounting, but her passions are sociology, psychology, science, and communication. Her motto: Authenticity in all things.
She writes about her hobbies and bits of whimsy at My Bijou Life.