Ever seen Singles? Remember how Bridget Fonda's character has a laundry list of qualities she'd like in a significant other? In the end, she narrows it down to one:
"Someone who says 'bless you' when I sneeze."
When I was younger (I mean, way young - like elementary school age), I would say things like, "I want a guy with Kirk Cameron's eyes and Jason Bateman's smile" and so on and so forth. (This was before Kirk Cameron became crazy religious, by the way.) Of course, I never really made a serious list. When the time came, I just jumped right into mating and relating.
Like so many others, I made a lot of mistakes and suffered a lot of heartbreak as a result. As much as I hate to admit it, I was a typical female looking for her white knight. I really wanted to be saved. I fell madly in love several times, only to have the relationships blow up in my face - and while yes, I had the horrible habit of choosing emotionally unavailable men, I was also horribly to blame because I placed each of these unsuspecting men on the highest pedestals possible. Because of all this, there were (are) two important things that I learned from all my relationship failures.
1) It is unfair to your partner to hold them to the exact same standards you hold for yourself.
2) It is unfair to expect someone to fulfill every single one of your needs all the time.
I see people placing these expectations on their partners (potential or actual) all the time. God knows I've certainly been guilty of it and will be, I'm sure, for the rest of my life. I'm not perfect; I definitely sometimes expect things of Roy that are unreasonable or unfair. But really, when I think about it, there are only two things that I need in my marriage in order to feel secure and safe:
1) There needs to be a willingness on both sides to realistically try to satisfy the emotional needs of the other. (This does not mean that Roy has to squeal and act like a girl with me when I need girl time, although let's face it, it would be awesome to hear Roy squeal for once in his life. It does mean that if I am sad and turn to him for love and support, I would appreciate his being there for me - as he always is.)
2) There needs to be a willingness on both sides to communicate openly and honestly. (This doesn't mean that I'm going to tell Roy I had a sex dream about another guy every single time that I have one - I still believe in personal privacy. But it does mean that I will tell him all kinds of other things.)
Roy and I are completely different people. I think it used to matter to me that someone be into the same stuff I was into or have the same friends, but as I've gotten older, I've realized that it's more interesting to be with someone who is different than me than to be with someone who is very similar to me. I think it's great to share interests - for instance, Roy and I both love reading and writing. But he reads mostly fantasy and sci-fi, and I read stuff that isn't fantasy and sci-fi. We both like movies and TV shows - he cringes when I watch One Tree Hill, and I leave the room when he turns on Battlestar Galactica. It doesn't mean we're any less compatible than that couple who likes all the same things or who has all the same friends. It means that we're still individuals, not just two halves of a whole. And in the spirit of individuality, we have separate friends and go do things alone or with others sometimes. Sometimes I need a girl to squeal with, and he needs a guy to act manly with.
Ultimately, I think that emotional availability and open, honest communication are what really matter in a relationship (to me). How tragic would it have been if I would have written Roy off based on superficial differences? I wouldn't have gotten to marry the Cutest Husband Ever, that's for sure.
So what do you think? Did you ever make a list of desireable qualities for your future mate? If so, how well did that work out for you? What are your must-haves in a significant other?
Tell me all about it, please.