Life rarely goes to plan. Sometimes the serendipity and coincidences that it hands us are so sweet we’re left wondering if it could have turned out any better had we executed it meticulously. At other times, when we’re gifted with the beauty of retrospect we realise that forethought probably wouldn’t have gone astray .
Once upon a time, in a much longer more detailed piece of work, my book, I used the Healthy Food Pyramid as a way to understand and balance the needs and wants of your ideal partner.
I’ll leave out all the food analogies here and give you the short version but I want to reiterate that if you want to get into a serious relationship with a partner that you love and want to commit to then writing The List is a pivotal part of the process.
I love a list. My diary, desk, phone and head are overflowing with them and I find that the process of writing one helps just as much as the satisfaction of ticking things off. All things considered, in the past I never wrote any lists about my relationship criteria, and instead took a haphazard approach to letting the clutches of lust, desire and love unfurl. When I was really young it came down to proximity and the interest of males around me, because that’s what you do when you’re young right? In my early 20’s I had very few preconceived notions of what I wanted. I just let the chips fall where they may and based everything on the abstract feelings of chemistry and butterflies. When I reflected on this approach later, I realised how flawed and ultimately brainless I was being. With retrospect and a few years of maturity I was more forgiving of myself and understood that I had it all under control from the outset. My intention at that age was only to sample the spectrum of men, (kind of like ice cream flavours?!) so that later my decisions (and future lists) would be more informed. This helped me ascertain what I liked and didn’t like, what I needed and what didn’t matter so much. I knew how much attention I required, how much affection, how I felt when they were away, how to measure trust and what level of communication I find acceptable. Of course, every person and every partnership takes its own dynamic route but I grew to recognise my baseline needs.
My point, albeit it being verbose, is that I was a skeptic of this whole list thing for the longest time. Ultimately I was fortunate enough to learn, organically, that it is actually a very wise move. I constructed my list by trial and error, which is not something everyone gets the chance (or has the appetite) to do.
If you’re angling for a serious relationship then you need to write your own, very honest list. And ASAP.
Be specific, but not obsessive with the details
Place most of your focus on his/her personality and morals and values
Don’t leave out the good bits eg. looks, sexual connection
You need not include quantifiable aspects eg. numerical values of anything; height, weight, salary, number of properties, ex girlfriends etc
Do make a definition between Needs vs Wants (this should be pretty obvious)
Make the list specific to you and be unabashedly, unashamed of making it reflect what you need
HOT TIP : My secret tip for your list is to include the way you want this person to make you FEEL.
The List Part 2
If you want to get into a serious relationship with a partner that you (actually) love and want a future with then writing The List is a pivotal part of the process.
Here’s what you need to include when you write it:
Morals and Values – Intrinsic to the core of the individual. For example: being a trustworthy person, the importance he/she places on family/career/money/education, is he/she racist, sexist, loyal, does he/she treat everyone with the same amount of respect, and how does she/he walk through the world? There may be fewer adjectives on this list but they’re fundamental to the integrity of any human, and future partner. Having similar values is critical to a relationship’s success. If you don't align your values well your relationship has a greater risk of failure.
Personality – It goes without saying that the overarching personality umbrella is going to be the meatiest component of this list. Include any characteristics that are important to you, such as: he/she is outgoing, likeable, ambitious, caring, supportive, responsible, reliable, trustworthy, fun, quiet, independent, energetic, diligent, thoughtful. These things are pretty immutable and if they’re important to you, should be considered non-negotiable.
Time & Space – How much time an individual is able to (and wants to) give to a relationship and their partner is important. Of course, there will always be time spent apart, but you need to understand how much of this is okay for you in the long term. If he/she works long hours and travels frequently for work will this bother you? Or, are you perfectly happy to spend only weekends together? If you’re getting into a relationship with a person that works 16 hours a day, consistently, and there’s no real endgame in sight will you be happy? The same goes for space. If you need lots of personal time and/or physical space can you commit to someone who prefers to follow you to the bathroom?
Interests – You don’t need to have every single interest aligned with someone to make a relationship work and there’s a lot to be said for a couple who are willing to learn from one another. However, there comes a point where some interests have to vaguely align or your relationship will never be harmonious. For example: are you active and they prefer to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Is he a footy and beer type guy and you can’t stand either? Do you prefer to spend your weekends dancing in clubs and he wants to Netflixandchill?
Non-negotiables – Not to be unnecessarily negative, but it’s good to know what things you won’t budge on when it comes to habits or behaviours that you don’t like. Not dating someone that gambles, smokes, has never read a book and doesn’t know how to drive might be where you draw a line in the sand?
Job – This is less superficial than it seems at the outset. Having a job and a means to an ends is an essential component to leading a satisfactory life. You don’t have to get too into the details here but important points are: Does he/she have a job? Does it earn him enough money to live without compromising his/her health and integrity and does this job make him/her happy? Career ambition and goals are flexible here, because as we know, anything can change with effort and passion.
Sex appeal – Without some sort of sexual chemistry or attraction you’re looking at a friendship rather than a romantic relationship. Sure, the sexual component of your partnership may simmer after a little while but you don’t want to aim for none from the get go. Aim for someone with a similar sexual appetite as you and similar views about the importance of sex within a relationship. You can gauge pretty quickly whether someone enjoys sex and has a healthy appetite for it. Similarly, ascertaining what sex means for intimacy and the effect it has on the love, affection and mutual adoration within the relationship is important to gauge with a potential partner.
Physicality – I couldn’t ignore looks, because looks are undeniably a big part of forming an attraction to someone. Initial attraction is what will eventually catapult you into a scenario where you can learn about someone else and evaluate whether they’re an ideal match for you. Most importantly though, you shouldn’t neglect the crucial element of your desire, and ensuring that it is suitably fulfilled. We all have our peccadillos.
Go on, get listing!