I was attempting to write at my favorite coffee shop when I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on two women huddled and giggling over a computer screen next to me. They were pouring over some online profiles of men that one had been flirting with. “This one’s very funny, but he’s too short,” she described, clicking on the next one. “This guy is so hot — isn’t he cute?!” she asked. “But he’s a writer, which means he has no money.” Click, click. “This guy is a lawyer. Seems interesting — but he’s bald.”
I winced. I recognized these comments. I may have even at one point, uttered them verbatim.
Listening to these women mirror their modern, mate-selection process back to me, I realized how dismissive and petty we have become in our search for love. The desire to connect with another human has been reduced to a consumeristic process in which we pursue a collection of attributes, and try to order up our partners like we would a pizza or a coffee. In today’s world, everyone can have whatever they want, “just their way”, with 1 and 1/2 shots, 2 % milk and whatever flavoring they need to feel satisfied.
But dear reader, dear single person, people cannot be assembled like “Build a Bear.” They cannot be ordered up to perfection. People are not packages. And if you are sizing up other humans as package deals, then you are probably packaging yourself, and that can be very painful. When we examine our single selves as package deals, we are either awash in grandiosity (behold my perfect mind and yoga body!) or we tend to harp on the liabilities: “But I have kids”. “I’m too old”. “My thighs are too big.” “I have scrawny limbs.” “I have a prosthetic limb.” Whatever. We then size up and discount our potential mates in return.
We are not simply a list of features. We are heart and longing, beauty and imperfection. Click To Tweet And so much more.
What I recommend to all those out there looking for love is that you fold up your “perfect mate list” and tuck it somewhere. I’m not asking you to throw it away. I know that many of you might be upset by this request as you have worked hard at creating that list and you deserve to have everything that you want. But even if you find someone who fits the bill — someone who is attractive, financially solvent, sexy and funny, with a nice car, and a decent mother to boot, it doesn’t mean you will feel a connection with them. The connection is, after all, what has immeasurable value. Click To Tweet
If you are single, I encourage you to replace your ‘list’ with vision. Instead of focusing on the individual attributes of a person, I encourage you to focus on how you want to feel and the roles they invite you to step into. How do you want to feel when you are with The One? One woman in a recent workshop revealed that her new boyfriend brought out in her the role of “beautiful mysterious goddess.” That sounds divine. What woman wouldn’t want to feel powerful and sought after like that? Or this: A man I know said that his long-term partner is still the only one that brings out his inner “John Stewart” — a part of him that voices his unique and slanted take on all their experiences, resulting in fits of laughter between them. If these best parts of you (and more) get activated in a relationship, does it matter if your significant other’s belly is larger than average? Does it matter if he is bald, or she is a different race or religion than you? Does it matter if she or he has a teacher’s salary instead of a doctor’s?
Lists aside, if you have been doing something repeatedly in love that doesn’t work, stop. If you have been serially dating no-income generating artists with a penchant for mind altering substances and you are sick of it, by all means, choose someone different. I’m not saying don’t have standards or guidelines. And I am certainly in favor of knowing and upholding your values. But breaking patterns and having standards is different than trying to date a list.
People are not lattes. Don’t order one. Broadcast how you want to feel, and let yourself be found.
And remember, love yourself no matter what.
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