Recently, a friend of friend went to visit an NYC matchmaker. She’s in her mid-thirties, successful and hoping to find someone with whom she can settle down and make a life.
During the meeting, the matchmaker asked her to talk about what she was looking for in a potential partner. After she’d rattled off a dozen qualifications, the matchmaker gave her some valuable advice. Everyone has a list of qualities that they would like for their partner to have, but you have to separate the likes from the needs.
To do this, the matchmaker (who charges more for this service than I make in a year) recommends that you choose just three deal breakers. Three qualities/attributes/characteristics that your partner must have or must not have. Your three things should be things that would give you serious pause. For example, if you were on your fifth date with a man you really liked, and he said that he never wants children, ever.
We get bogged down sometimes searching for the “dream guy,” the one who has everything on the list. But maybe the list is just too long? I think sorting it into two categories–your three essentials, “the musts,” and other things you would prefer or wouldn’t like–is a great idea. If you have the essentials covered, you can figure out what you’re willing to be flexible about without sacrificing what really matters.
So what are my three things?
Trustworthiness. When I was young, I was in a relationship that was unhealthy. He routinely lied about where he was and who he was even when he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Deception was the name of the game.
Over time, I started to obsess about what he wasn’t telling me and whether what he was telling me was true. I over analyzed and dissected every conversation, e-mail and event. Eventually, I became depressed and practically manic, unable to decide what was a true and what was a lie. I was sinking in quicksand.
After that, I decided that I would never again be with someone who I couldn’t trust. I don’t want to spend my time worrying where you are. I don’t want my partner to feel like every conversation is an interrogation. And I like being able to sleep at night.
Trust = stability and sanity. It’s a good thing.
Attraction. In college, I was in a serious relationship with a really good guy. He was kind, funny, smart and we had a lot in common. But I really wasn’t attracted to him in that way.
In the beginning, it wasn’t a problem. We were so enamored with each other and happy to spend time together, that I barely noticed. And besides, physical attractiveness isn’t supposed to matter. At least, that’s what everyone tells you.
Over time, we had a circus tent full of elephants in the room. I tried to put it out of my mind, and he tried to ignore the fact that he was more attracted to me than I was to him. Add in the comments and judgments from friends, family and total strangers and it was a recipe for disaster. Eventually, our disparate passions grew into mutual resentment and we split up.
It’s not all about physical appearance, but that is part of it. You can be attracted to all kinds of things: confidence, ambition, sense of humor, etc. Whatever the secret ingredient was, he didn’t have it. We didn’t have it. And the absence of that magic, intoxicating thing that keeps you interested in the other person was like a chasm.
Very simply, spark matters. If you don’t have it in the beginning, the odds that you’ll ever have it are slim. And it’s not fair to the other person to stay in a relationship that doesn’t have it, because he deserves to be with someone who loves and desires him just as much as you do.
Cheerful in All Weather. I could best be described as a glass half-empty kind of girl. So I need someone of the glass half-full persuasion. He doesn’t have to be happy-go-lucky all the time, just cheerful and optimistic enough to keep me from slipping into gloom and doom territory.
I don’t expect anyone else to make me a happier person, only I can do that. But I think that being around a cheerful person helps me to remember that the world will not end just because I’m having a no good, very bad day. So someone who challenges me to look on the bright side is best.
So those are the basics. Sure, I’d prefer if he didn’t chew his toenails or listen to loud punk music, but those are just preferences, not needs. Oh, and if he could be five inches or more taller than me, that would be really, really great. *wink*
If you’d like to leave your three things in the comments, feel free. I’d love to hear what you ladies think is important in a potential mate (gents, too).