Big Picture, Meet Day-to-Day Expectations

While I was still single, I went on a girls’ road trip with some friends. We went to San Francisco for the weekend and had a blast. On the way back, we listened to Taylor Swift and talked about relationships: what we were looking for in a partner–and what we weren’t. In the middle of this conversation, a text notification came up on my phone. I couldn’t believe my eyes–a guy I’d had a crush on in high school, Adam*, texted me asking if this was still my number. I quickly replied that it was and told the girls. Predictably, our car descended into chaos. We were all waiting on his response with bated breath.

A few minutes later, it came. “I saw the photo you posted on social media of you and your friends in San Francisco and just wanted to tell you I thought you looked gorgeous.” I quickly panicked, put the phone down on my lap, and turned bright pink. The entire car exploded with high-pitched giggles and whispers. One of my best friends, who was sitting in the front seat, caught my eye in the rear view mirror and went,


After a few seconds, I finally got enough courage to pick the phone back up. But when I did, I saw that I’d recorded my first-ever voice message and sent it to him. Now, I’m a confident person and one who doesn’t get embarrassed very easily, but this was next-level. I immediately curled up in the fetal position in that back seat.

When the rest of the car saw what had happened, there was silence for the first time all drive. Even Taylor Swift got paused. And finally, someone turned the volume up on my phone and pressed play. All you can hear on the recording is some excited, unintelligible whispering, then, “WHAT?! WHAT?! DID HE ASK YOU ON A DATE?” I was mortified.

The following conversation went something like this:

Him: “I didn’t even know you could send voice messages.”
Me: “Yeah, you and me both.”
Him: “So, do you want to hang out sometime?”

At this point, I didn’t know what to do with myself. One of the things I had just told my friends was that I wanted someone direct and confident enough to just ask me out, regardless of the situation. We had all discussed how rare it was to find that in a guy and how having high standards in this and other areas had been a problem for us. But now it had happened, even though I sent him the world’s most embarrassing voice message!

The next week, Adam and I picked a day to hang out. I was going to meet him on Friday for lunch and bowling after my early morning shift. On Monday night, he said he’d let me know later in the week when and where we should meet. So I waited.

Tuesday passed, which was fine. On Wednesday, I thought to myself, “If I was the person planning a date, today would be the day I’d get back to them so they have a little bit of notice.” But nothing showed up. I texted a friend, who walked me off my nervous ledge, “Calm down, this isn’t weird at all. Cut him some slack, he’ll text you tomorrow.”

Thursday, I checked my phone at work a few too many times, but nothing. 5PM came and went. 6PM came and went. I set a deadline for myself: “If he doesn’t text me by 9PM, I won’t go. I don’t want to be someone who waits by the phone forever.” I texted my friend, and she agreed that was reasonable. I went to bed with nothing.

When I woke up for my early shift on Friday, I had a text. It came in around midnight and said, “Are you still free tomorrow?”, and I was. But I still texted him before I went into work and told him no. I returned to college the next week and Adam and I haven’t connected since. Though not texting on time is a small offense, I realized I knew what I wanted, and I didn’t think he could be it.

See, what I’d forgotten in my “perfect man” spiel to my friends on our road trip wasn’t the big picture things I wanted. It was the day-to-day expectations. I’d forgotten how important simple things like remembering to text are to me. Being direct and confident are qualities I’m attracted to, and I’m certainly not getting rid of my big picture list. But now, before I assess the big picture, I mentally go through another list: my day-to-day expectations, the things that I expect myself and anyone I date to do.

Everyone should have their own list. Everyone’s will look a little different, but they serve the same purpose — saving us time and heartache pursuing people who look promising, but we actually can’t stand for a single day, much less a lifetime.

Here’s mine:

1. Communicates clearly and in a timely manner

2. Follows through on plans and promises

3. Does chores and runs errands

4. Willing to come to me to hang out as often as I come to them

5. Polite to and interested in my friends and family

When I first hit it off with my current boyfriend, I wasn’t looking to date anyone. I just wanted to focus on finishing college. I arrived home for a break during my last year of college and had a church Christmas party to go to. I’d been up for about 20 hours by the time the party started and all I wanted to do was sit, eat, and not be bothered.

I walked into the party, started greeting people, and made a beeline for my table. Just before I got there, I ran into one of my brother’s longtime friends and, before I knew it, we’d been talking for fifteen minutes and food was being served. I sat down at my table and ate, but I kept looking over to where he was.

Eventually, I gave up my quiet spot, moved to the loudest table, and took the open seat across from him. Later, when we were both getting ready to leave, he told me that in the next few days he’d send me a reel of bloopers from our favorite show that I needed to see. I didn’t really expect him to follow through, but less than forty-eight hours later, a message popped up on my phone. And we’ve been talking ever since.

*Name changed for privacy.