Girls of every age and marital status have been told to make a list of characteristics and traits that are important in their future spouses. The list is meant to help weed out those that don’t fit the trajectory of the woman’s life and open her eyes to seeing more clearly. Somehow I missed this memo or put off this assignment, or maybe the dog at my paper, because I don’t have a list anywhere.
Part of the (real) reason this list doesn’t exist is because I don’t like dating, so I don’t do it, so I never have needed to answer the question What are you looking for? before.
I went years and years without dating at all. After two pretty serious relationships in my late teens/early twenties, I gave it up and never looked back. I lived my life, opened doors to the world around me, traveled, wrote, achieved, failed, moved, grew, survived and experienced all on my own. Happily. Completely. With Zeal. The question never came up because I was always on the move and ready for the next adventure, with or without someone in the plane seat next to me.
If there was one thing I always fell back on that would talk me out of relationships, it was the travel. I knew I wanted to keep going, keep stepping in new countries, fill another passport and never stop that part of my story. It was key. It was me. I used it as my deal-breaker; if I was being offered a life that was less nomadic, I didn’t even start the relationship. At least for a while this worked out for me and I remained happy and single.
But, being in Portland these days has changed my dating life – as in I now have one and am realizing that this jet-setting life might not be the priority I once held it to.
I went on a blind date this last weekend. As I sat on the beach with this random guy and his guitar (yeah, cheesy, I don’t mind) he asked me two questions (among many), “What makes you a great girlfriend?” and “What are you looking for?”
I have no idea how to answer these questions. People tell me I am easy to get along with, always happy and smiling, supportive and encouraging, but I have never had to be that in a relationship before. Maybe I would be different. If I started listing that I could cook, clean and take care of babies, I might give off the wrong impression. How do you explain what you are like in a deep, committed relationship to someone you barely know, if you don’t really know?
The question about what I am looking for went just as unanswered. I have realized that even a couple dates here and there really help open my eyes to what I like and don’t like, what I am willing to deal with and what I am not.
As my mom put it this week, “Everyone is a little crazy. It is just a matter of figuring out which crazy you are willing to deal with.”
After a few flopped dates and attempts at dating, here is what I know I want so far:
Not a boy, not a guys guy, not a narcissist, not a chump. A Man. Someone who has conviction and will stand by it, who believes in other people, who controls his emotions and knows how to have a conversation about tough stuff without being aggressive or passive aggressive. A steady, strong, passionate man of peace.
There is no dark hair, or blue eyes on my list; nothing about an un-checkered past or even a perfect job. I just want character.
Character shouldn’t be limited to the few in this world. It shouldn’t be such a mysterious trait to find, but it has proven rather elusive as of late.
Over the last few months I have had dates with people that made fun of me (Dear Guys, Don’t make fun of ladies on your first date. Especially things they cannot change like their height, or their feet, or the size of their behind); with guys that criticized my clothes, my apartment, and/or my car (Dear Guys, Criticism is not a turn on. Please reign it in.); and with guys that seem to be way more interested in their own stories than any I might have to share. (Dear Guys, Listening and supporting is like a magical spell that helps a girl want to fall for you.)
I wish I could just shake some of the men I have met and get some of the insecurity off them, or unload some of the baggage.
Of course, I am not saying this is a one way street. Any of the men I am thinking of now would probably have a list of things I could have done differently. I have been told that I am hard to read, shy, and intimidating depending on the situation. I try so hard not to be controlling or manipulative that it sometimes comes across like I don’t care. Words get stuck in my throat if I don’t have time to process what I really think. I have a hard time keeping boundaries, so I can get a guy into trouble . . .
But we’ll cover all my womanly faults some other time.
Which brings me back: Do you have a list? What are some of the things on it? What are your absolute deal-breakers?