I’ve always been somewhat of a hopeless romantic. I love the idea of a grand gesture for the holiday where someone declares their undying love and affection. This year has been pretty low key but also better than previous years. I spent quality time with my significant other without the hassle of trying to outdo anyone or prove that the actions of one day are an indication of the level of commitment of both partners. I saw a slew of v-day posts on social media and this year I was particularly annoyed with the amount of meaningless advice that attached women posted and addressed directly to “single women.” The “wait and see” approach to finding a significant other is outdated and is rarely ever effective. One thing that I’ve learned is the importance of letting go of comparisons to other relationships. Everyone is different and there’s not a “one size fits all” approach to relationships. It’s important to build your relationship the way that you and your partner want it. Create your own personal definition of fidelity and commitment through discussion with your partner and be ok with the fact that it may look different than other relationships. There’s too much at stake to not be honest with yourself about what you want and what you expect from a partner.
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.