A List of Lists

Are you making this list when it comes to dating?

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I have never had a “type” when it came to dating and relationships.  There simply had to be something about a guy that I found attractive, and something that also intrigued me, thus making me want to get to know him better.   Obviously he couldn’t smell bad, and he had much better chances if he had all his teeth; but for the most part, I tried to keep an open mind about a lot of things.  While I noticed both males and females seeming to prefer things like blondes, brunettes, long hair, short hair, and even a certain body type; I was never particular about that.  I have dated men in all shapes and sizes, all hair colors-including bald, who have done all kinds of different jobs, and have made six figure incomes to minimum wage, driven total POS’s to a Ferrari.

But I never had a “list” I felt I needed to stick to when it came to who I would date, and I think that this allowed me to have some really great experiences I may not have had otherwise.  I also think it allowed me see the world from a lot of different points of views.  I have been able to see and do a lot of really interesting and exciting things while dating and also learned a lot.   Some things the easy way, others the hard way.  I think that is to be expected too.

However, looking back at things and how carefree and random I have been, and how I deemed it a good thing; I think that in some respects, I would have been wise to have a list.   Just, not a list like other people think of.  Not a list of what the  perfect mate looks like, either.

We are a culture of lists.  We make lists of things to pick up at the store, things we would like to accomplish long term, and a list of things we want to accomplish short term.  The bucket list, maybe a list of regrets, the “to do” list, the list of where to find the other lists!  And for a lot of us, we also have that list that we don’t really talk about too; the list of things we want in the “perfect mate.”   When it comes to dating and relationships, how well has that worked out for any of you, anyway?  Is a person who does that and actually meets a person with all the attributes on their list actually happy?  I’d be curious to know this…

We have all seen and heard about how making a list of the perfect person and being resolute about it can actually be a detriment rather than a helpful tool.  We use it as a way to keep from getting too close, and a bunch of other psycho babble I won’t go into here; but I believe this to be true.

I think when we are young, it’s easy to think that we are supposed somehow have it all figured out.  And when we get it wrong, it’s easy to get down on ourselves.  Yet, the biggest lessons we have learned have probably come from those times we got it wrong, and were also most likely, very painful.  Thereby, in order to really mature and grow, this is necessary.  I also believe that we figure out a lot about what we want by realizing what we DON’T want.  It’s almost like a process of elimination.

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I have been in my fair share of relationships.  Probably MORE than my fair share.  I am single today and with the exception of a two year relationship in there, I have been for the better part of about fifteen years now.  Maybe longer.  This has been by choice.  I think that as we get older, we also become more aware of just how short life is, and yet how long it seems when your miserable!  I’d rather be single and lonely at times than in a relationship and miserable.  It’s just not worth it!  So, about the time someone is being stupid, or rude, I’m like, “Nah.  Pass.”

I think dating has become even harder now than it was when I was younger.  I tried online dating a couple of times and that was scary.  The first time I tried it, it was new and the girls were all still living at home and all under the age of 12…something like that.  I got all signed up and would start to chat with someone and it was literally like “Hello” followed up with a pic I didn’t ask for!  You know the pic I am talking about!  This was not fun or even appealing to me at all!  In fact, I’m freaking out because I have young girls in the house and I’m in the living room and they might see it and can’t figure out how the stupid chat features work and end up just turning the whole computer off!  I mean, wow!   With the cell phones came a whole new version of that.  Meet someone, exchange numbers and boom!  And worse, a request for me to send one to them!  Let me think about tha-no!  The whole thing just fascinates me because obviously there must be a lot of people who are ok with that kind of thing, or they wouldn’t be doing it.   Guess that DOES make me a prude.  I thought I was kind of a cool chick.  Oh well.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying I have never done anything risqué or that I am this perfect angel.  I did do that sexting thing once.   Although, I am sure he thought I had probably done it a million times, this was actually not the case.  It was with an old boyfriend from when I was young and it just kind of happened.   He was actually like the guy I never really got over, to make this more understandable.  I am not sure I ever will, to be honest.  I still love him to death.  (Irrationally so, most likely, but nevertheless, true.)   So, I rationalized that I basically knew him, (even though it’s been over two decades) so it wasn’t so bad, and I obviously had (irrational) hopes that it actually meant something; only to discover it did not.  I was mortified, and afraid of what he must think of me after that.  I never did it again.

Note to self.  Make list about how being irrational sux sometimes.  Well, does it ever not?  Note to self:   Research if being irrational is ever a good thing…cuz I’m thinking probably not.

For a person who is always searching for meaning, you want things to mean something.  Even if it’s nothing, that’s still something.  But in a lot of things, you don’t want that something to be nothing.  I guess what I want to say is that I want sex, especially, to mean something.  I’ve spent enough time doing that; where it meant nothing and it left me feeling nothing, and like I was nothing, too.  I reached a point in my life where I knew I wanted something more, and was no longer afraid to not only ask for it, but not accept anything less.

But I digress…sort of.

I think that as a person who is dating, it is IMPERATIVE to define what you want, insofar as whether or not you are looking for fun, or a relationship that means something.  I have had all too many friends who would tell me that they were seeing some dude, but it was purely casual and that they were fine with it.  Only to freak the hell out the moment they realized he was “being casual” with someone else too!

Come on now!  Ok, first of all, you’re making us women folk look crazy, Ok?  Secondly, Who’s really being the liar here?  If you are not okay with a casual sexual relationship, then why are you saying that you are?  At least that guy is honest when he says what he’s looking for.  Listen here.  He is being HONEST when he says that’s what he is looking for!  He is not lying to you, and no, you do not have a magic vagina that’s going to change his mind!   Because, I know it’s hard to believe, but when a guy is looking for sex, that’s all he’s looking for.  When he’s looking for a relationship, he’s not looking for the girl with the magic vajayjay.  He has a list all his own, and while that IS important to a man; give them a little credit.  There’s more to it than that.  So be honest with YOURSELF first and foremost!  If you want a relationship, and he says he doesn’t, stand your ground and walk away.  He may be cute and charming and whatever else, but trust me, so is the next 100 guys like him you’re gonna meet.

Obviously this is written for relationship oriented gals, which you may have figured out by now; but just in case you haven’t…yeah.

Another thing that’s prevalent today is the manipulator, and the player, and the user, and abuser.  Now if THAT’S not a list, I don’t know what is!  These men are dang near everywhere now, and some are pretty hard to spot.  Since most of us gals were raised to be nice and polite, they take full advantage of this.  So, here’s item two on my list.  Learn what boundaries are, how to set them, and enforce them.  A great book I can recommend off the top of my head is called Boundaries, Where You End and I Begin.  I think a lot of women will be shocked to realize just how much they are taking responsibility for, that isn’t even theirs to bear.

When I think about what my list would look like now, if I made one of the perfect mate, the word “kind” comes to my mind an awful lot.  I would like to have met more men who were simply kind people.  It makes me think of that song…I think Jewel sang it, but it goes, “…In the end, only kindness matters.”   I believe there to be a great deal of truth to that.   Another saying I heard once that has stuck with me was this;  “A lot of people will love you.  Pick one who does it well.”   There’s a lot to be said for that too.

Today, as I thought about how a couple of my girls are still dating and looking for a strong, healthy relationship, I thought about what I would like to say to them.  That is pretty much the purpose of this writing.  As I thought about how maybe it’s good to have a list with things like, “I want someone kind,” or “I want someone who treats me well, I also thought about how easy it is to come up with a list of what we want someone else to be.  In a lot of ways, I think that takes far more responsibility off of us, and in effect, places our happiness in someone else’s hands.  Whether we realize this consciously or not, that’s what we may very well be doing.  By believing there is a perfect mate out there who will make all our dreams come true and making this list, we are buying into this myth that all we have to do is find the perfect mate.  Who does not exist.

Maybe you’re a little more level headed than that.  Okay, but are you still making that list?  Do you know that you could still be putting power where it should not lie?  Or maybe responsibility is a better word.  Are you picking up what I’m laying down now?

How many of us have actually taken the time to make a list about ourselves?  How many of us actually know what is really important to us?  What makes us tick?  What we love?  What we hate?  How we feel about the color green?    You see, when we spend all our time thinking about what we think we want someone else to be, we don’t have to focus on who we are.  What kind of a mate will we be for someone else?

Oh, we are perfect, I already know that!  But honestly, how easy it is to focus on someone else in a relationship when have not focused on ourselves?  In all honesty, I have come to believe this is of utmost importance.  Because once that is done, I think the rest will come a lot more easily.  Once you know who you are, and you have accepted everything about yourself that makes you who you are; warts and all; then you begin to just “know” almost immediately that someone is not right for you.  Not only that, but you will have learned to embrace the alone times you have instead of running from them, and there is so much strength and power given to you in that.  We may make enough mistakes as it is, but when we are afraid to be alone, they will be more.

However, when we know ourselves and have become accepting and comfortable with ourselves, we do not feel the need to be less choosy simply to have company in our misery of loneliness.  In a lot of ways, this will also set boundaries without even having to try, and it will weed out many players and jerks; (though not all) because a woman who knows herself just vibes at a whole new level that wards a lot of them off.  I believe this to be a law of the universe, but I’m not sure which one or the number.  It just is.  Water seeks it’s own level.  Remember this.   You want to be at the top of the waterfall.  Not the bottom.

So, if I were given the chance to do it all again, I think I would make a list.  It would say things like yes, I want a relationship, but not just any relationship.  I want a relationship that’s magnificent, and this is what it looks like.   Then I would list things like, he wants me to be me, and the best me I can be, and encourages that.   He likes spending time with me doing X, Y, and Z.  He allows me to have my alone time.  You get the drift.  This person is automatically going to be kind, caring, and any other list of attributes you may assign a perfect mate, but the focus is still on me.  Not him, and how HE is supposed to be responsible for my happiness or anything else for that matter.  I am responsible for me and my happiness, etc., and he allows me to be.  Conversely, he is not carrying this burden of your happiness relying on him; and he is responsible for his own “stuff” and his own happiness as well.

Before I would do that though, I would start a list about me.  Let me put it this way.  You know when you fill out your profile for an online dating site and you sit there not having a clue to what to say about who you are or what you really want?  It really shouldn’t be that hard.  The last time I got on an online dating site, some jerk commented that I had written too much!   I took that as a compliment!  I knew what I wanted and who I was, and he was threatened by that.  So much so, that he had to try and knock me down for it, when he simply could have (and should have), just moved on.  So, I weeded one out for sure, and most likely many others.

I think that’s really the only list worth making in a person’s life, and so many of us fail to do it.  I also think that if one takes the time to do this, (and it may take a year or two-maybe even more) the other lists you can make for dating become almost unnecessary.

So, throw away the list with things like hair color, body types, and income or jobs.  (Which they should at least have, ok?!  Let’s be clear about that!)   When what you want comes from a place of sound love for yourself and sincerity, you will find that love comes back to you from the most unexpected places and will not come in a certain box with a certain wrapper on it.  You can still have fun while looking for “the one.”  You can also still make your list.  Just make your list a better one!  🙂

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