A few weeks ago, a coworker of mine went through her List. You know, THE LIST: The List of everything a man needed to have to qualify as potential boyfriend/husband material. If you didn’t meet the criteria of The List, you would never get a date with her.
Like many Lists I’ve heard, this one was detailed and described with confidence. This was obviously not something made up on the spot. I know she had put a lot of thought into this List and felt that each item on there was important, necessary, and a key to her finding marital bliss.
I don’t share that same confidence.
I’ve heard quite a few women share their Lists, and most of the items on those Lists are ridiculous. They are made of fantasy more than reality, but these women are holding out for the fantasy. That “perfect man” for her is out there. Here are some qualities I’ve heard (and seen) on Lists:
- he must know at least 1 foreign language
- he must play an instrument, preferably the violin or cello
- he must be at least 6′ tall with proportionate features
- he must love his mother
- he should be able to write poetry
- he must dress well (Gap, Banana Republic, or more)
- he must know how to dance (as in the Foxtrot or Tango, not twerking)
- he must have excellent oral hygiene (bleached white teeth, straight teeth, flosses daily, brushes 2x+ each day)
- he must like _____ because I like it so much
- he needs to make $___ / make at least $___ / make more $ than me since that’s his job as a man*
- he should have blond hair and blue eyes (ok, so this is only a LIKE not a MUST but it was still on the List)
- he must like cats and agree to never owning dogs or birds
- he must want children
- he should be a lawyer or a business man
- he should do charity work
- he should have an extensive library and be well read
- he should wear cologne, but not too much
- he must know how to write a love letter to me
- he should know how to be romantic**
- he should be passionate***
These scratch the surface, but you get my point. More than likely, you’ve heard these Lists or had one of your own. But have any of these Lists actually ever worked? I’ve heard a lot of Lists from women who are single and have been single…. and will continue to be single. Finding a partner isn’t about checking off a List. You can’t scan a person’s emotional/physical inventory to find out if they are compatible with you. That’s not how humans work!
Men are not safe from these Lists either. A twitter friend of mine weighed in on this topic with his own experience:
She would be slim, around 5’9, have long blonde hair, blue eyes, wear glasses and have long legs. One day, many years ago I met and worked with a girl who fit this look exactly. She WAS very attractive but beyond that she did absolutely nothing for me. Instead I was smitten with the 5’2 red head with the pointed nose and screechy voice. At this point I realised that, if you find somebody attractive, then you find them attractive. The “looks” don’t enter into it…What she did for me was open my eyes to everybody who didn’t fit my “ideals” list and from there on in, I saw every girl in a new light. — Calum Rigby
I’m not a man nor have I taken a poll of men, but I’d guess Calum’s experience isn’t isolated. It’s normal to think that certain looks or qualities in a person would make them attractive. But where is the line between fantasy and reality? Of the List items my female friends shared, which ones were super important, real-life deal-breakers? In my opinion, just a few.
I’m not surprised that people who have a List are single. I hear it all the time from my coworker – why is she single? Where are all the nice men? Well…. how would you know if in the first meeting you go through your checklist and are trying to weed them out? Or you won’t even meet him based on a recommendation because he doesn’t fit everything on the List?
If you have a List, tear it up. Please. You don’t need a List. You need… deal-breakers. What can you NOT have in your relationship? Here are mine:
- If s/he can’t respect me as a person
- If s/he is a smoker
- If s/he doesn’t contribute as an equal partner to the relationship
- If there isn’t mutual sexual attraction & compatibility
- If s/he is only interested in me sexually
- If we don’t share some common interests we enjoy together
This is pretty much it. I know what I cannot live with in a relationship. The first one covers pretty much everything I need to know about how I’ll be treated. I’ve never set limits on physical qualities – attraction can change depending on personality and looks change continuously.
Who cares if your significant other plays the cello? Will it change how much you love your partner? Why does it matter if their teeth are straight and perfectly white — what if they can’t afford those unnecessary procedures or they are too sensitive for bleach? What if they like having imperfections in their appearance because that is who they are?
Why are we pre-screening love before we even know what potential there is?
I believe you should have standards and deal-breakers of who you want in a partner — but if you’re describing their clothes, their physical appearance, their education, or their interests, you’ve gone too far. Stop trying to predict your future partner. Leave yourself open to new people and possibilities. By cutting out so many people, you’re missing out on all the possibilities around you.
Love doesn’t happen like it does in the movies – until you meet that special someone. Then its a story that’s always interesting and you’re always more happy about it then anyone else around you… but you could never have predicted it. Have you ever heard a love story or a married couple say, “Well, it began because I had this List and when I saw he was 6’2 and liked to wear suits to work, I knew he was the one!”? Of course not — no romances start that way. (If they do, you can take bets on how many weeks that relationship will last.)
So, throw out the List. Keep your heart open and eyes closed. Listen to what they have to say about what’s really important (like how you spend your free time, or what holidays are important, or what kinds of memories you’d like to make together).
Physical attractions can develop… and they can go away. After a lifetime, no one is going to care who made more money or whether or not they could recite poetry.
So tell me, what’s been on your List that you’ve scrapped?
*This kind of sexism makes my blood boil.
**But… romance is different for each person! He’s not a mind-reader!
***Ok… like how? Like when he rips open your bustier and kisses down your neck as you pant, hair waving in the wind? WTF?