I think that everyone has a standard in their head of what they deserve in a significant other. This standard is based on their own self-worth and insecurities. Like a lot of people, I have a list that identifies the characteristics that I’d like in a significant other. I think of it as a guideline and not an absolute because it’s important to be somewhat flexible as long as you aren’t compromising core values. My list is the equivalent to a high end car like a Maserati. Not too long ago I “met” the Maserati. He was educated (check), easy on the eyes (check), intelligent (check), and really chill (check). I felt like I was in a museum surveying a brand new piece of art or a top of the line Maserati. I admired and appreciated the many perks and accessories. It was just like I had imagined it would be–but a lot better. But by the same token I knew that I couldn’t take the car or the piece of art home. It was just a reminder that what I wanted really existed. That my imagination actually had some basis in reality. And even though it wasn’t meant for me to keep, it was still refreshing to interact with him and have some great conversation.
Like most unmarried young adults in my age bracket, I have a list of the things that I want in a significant other. Over the years this list has evolved from a paragraph to four pages single spaced in Times New Roman font. The list has been influenced by many things including past experiences, the observation of relationships and marriages, and the couples I’ve seen in therapy. It’s updated each year and undergoes a makeover with new details and ideas of what would be best. The thing about growing older is that it’s easier to become more set in your ways. As a result of this, the list of things you don’t want to put up with becomes longer and longer. There’s less room for flexibility because you feel like you’re on a countdown and you don’t want to have to try it multiple times to get it right. There’s less patience and a more purposeful intent. So the list sits there. Collecting dust on the hard drive of my computer. The funny thing is that while I rarely take the time to refer back to it, I still know and remember what it contains. The challenge with making such a list is that you have to leave room for reality. No one is going to be perfect and that’s something that I’ve always taken into consideration. Rules that were absolutes have not become preferences instead of deal breakers. Of course there’s the basics; love, respect, won’t beat me black and blue, and can be assertive. But then there are other things that would just make life easier in the long run. Everyone doesn’t come from a traditional two parent home and while that might make life a bit easier, it’s not something that I expect. The great thing about the list is that it lets you make decisions about people pretty easily. You can cut out a lot of unnecessary drama and save yourself heartbreak and time because you cut them off at the beginning because they didn’t meet criteria. One double edged sword in my case is that I’ve met my list. An individual who embodies all four pages single spaced of expectations, criteria, and preferences. Which, by the way, is not an easy feat. While I would never go as far to say that this person is the embodiment of perfection, I will say that they have some core character traits that align perfectly with the list. It’s been one thing to meet the list and another thing to interact with the list and have conversations. Does The List know that they are the list? No. And the jury is still out on whether or not they’ll ever get that information. However, maybe that’s the nature of the list. The fear of messing up a perfect fantasy with an imperfect reality that results in the admiration from a distance without action.