About four years ago I began my definitive search for a life partner by reading a few recommended self-help books on relationships.
To be honest, they weren’t all that helpful. But reading was the easiest way to break myself out of my comfortable apathy.
Inevitably, each author would instruct me to write down what kind of partner I was looking for and what kind of relationship I wanted. What I ended up with was a list of must-haves and preferences. Then I was encouraged to meet as many men as possible and eliminate those who didn’t fit the bill.
What bothered me about these kinds of lists was the risk of setting impossibly high standards. I worried this would prevent me from meeting “the one” because maybe he wouldn’t meet enough of the criteria on my checklist.
Do you know what discourages most people from online dating? The overriding sense of entitlement that resides in its participants. Many women are confronted with lewd, unwarranted sexual advances from men who feel entitled to a woman’s body or attention. Many men are put-off by unreasonable demands from women who feel entitled to the best of everything. I’m afraid these lists of demands, or must-haves, can often lead to false equivalencies between what we think we deserve and what we really have to offer.
Once I’ve affirmed that a potential partner shares my same values and meets the basic level of human decency, I have no difficulty at all figuring out what I want from them. The problem is, no matter what I may want from the relationship, I can only ever receive what this person is ready or willing to give.
So, I’ve thrown my list of wants out the window. Here’s what I’ve been using to envision our relationship instead:
Replacing my wants with hopes doesn’t mean I’ve eliminated all of my preferences. Hope doesn’t require that I subject myself to ideologies or behavior I find unacceptable. Hope only provides me with a powerful one percent mind shift that converts my rigid expectations into an imaginative list of best-case scenarios.
Future Life Partner, if you’re still out there, this is what I hope for us:
• I hope when we meet, we can get past the small talk quickly and have a meaningful, engaging conversation.
• I hope that even after we’ve talked for several hours, there is still so much we have to say.
• I hope instead of playing the three-day rule after our first date, neither of us feel weird about calling or texting the next day.
• I hope we have a lot in common, but we can still teach each other something new.
• I hope when we go out for dinner you aren’t stingy about sharing your food.
• I hope we send text messages that make us laugh out loud in the middle of the day.
• I hope you don’t become ambivalent about your feelings and ghost me after a couple of weeks.
• I hope we become best friends.
• I hope when you meet my friends I begin to suspect they might like you a little more than me.
• I hope your friends feel the same way when they meet me.
• I hope that we fall madly, deeply and passionately in love.
• I hope you like to cuddle after sex and that you lay a towel in the damp spot.
• I hope you don’t snore (too loudly).
• I hope the words “I love you” make you feel less like you are giving up your freedom and more like you are liberating your soul.
• I hope you are not a morning person unless you know how to make a decent pot of coffee.
• I hope you don’t expect me to go running with you.
• I hope you are prepared to celebrate my birthday with me all month long.
• I hope after a long, hard day at work you coincidentally come home with a pizza and a six-pack of beer.
• I hope you don’t mind when I rearrange the plates that you put in the dishwasher improperly.
• I hope that when we plan a vacation, we set aside one day to make no plans at all.
• I hope amid the hustle and bustle and family gatherings around the holidays we find some time to be alone.
• I hope we spend less time counting our money and more time counting our blessings.
• I hope you will understand that for most of the winter, I will be bundled up to my eyeballs.
• I hope we’re amazed by how far we made it without having known each other.
• I hope when we get married our entire wedding party participates in a choreographed routine so dope it completely shuts down “The Electric Slide.”
• I hope our mad, passionate love settles into an unbreakable bond of trust, honesty and respect.
• I hope we are able to lean on each other when we struggle to stand on our own.
• I hope when faced with difficult choices we remember to keep our promises and lose our fears.
• I hope when we argue, neither of us says anything so hurtful we can never take it back.
• I hope that if we ever start to grow apart, we fight hard to come back together instead of turning away to someone else.
• I hope, as we grow old, you continue to be my greatest hero and my strongest ally.
• I hope we decide for better or for worse, life is still better together than it could ever be apart.
I hope—and I still hope—that we find each other.
Author: LeVonne Lindsay
Image: William Stitt/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron