We were warned about the liars and cheaters of the world. We were warned about the types of people who would never make good partners. Our moms taught us, our high school boy/girlfriends taught us, our mistakes taught us. Our friends dated scrubs, Taylor Swift wrote ‘Dear John’, Carrie Bradshaw dated jerks. And from all of these tidbits of information many of us formed lists.
It’s safe to say that anyone looking to get into a monogamous relationship has a checklist. For the A types like me that may mean a small piece of paper kept in a book somewhere. Or for the other millennial babies an unlabeled iPhone note. For the rest of the checklist making population this is a mental note of must haves and must nots for a prospective partner. Are you thinking of yours? Boobs? Check! Tall? Check! Educated? Check!
But if I may offer a piece of advice, not as a relationship expert, but as a person who has put a great deal of thought in to her own relationships…
Don’t just date a checklist. Now I’m not saying to get rid of the checklist- quite the opposite really. Respect the checklist. Fulfill it, love it, and adhere to it even when the prospect of dating that smutty bartender at the hipster restaurant who has way too many guys/girls on the go is all too tempting. Unless of course that person fulfills your list in which case who am I to judge?
But don’t let the fulfillment of this list dictate who you settle for/with. This list is reflective of the person that you are when you make it. Its contents may satisfy you today, tomorrow and the next day. But what about 1, 5, or even 10 years from now?
No one warned us about mediocrity. That feeling you get in a relationship but when nothing is wrong but it’s not quite right either. Not fighting but not fitting. We are so focused on avoiding the wrong that we assume the right. We forget that there is a whole other level between good relationship and bad relationship. It’s just something we don’t seem to talk about, relationship mediocrity; the B average of social relationships.
Don’t just date a checklist. Date a checklist that challenges you. Whose presence in your life makes you want to be the best version of yourself. Someone who is clever enough to make you laugh, long after your college humor wears away. Date someone who is considerate and kind to people that they don’t know. Someone who you don’t need booze or entertainment to have fun with. Date someone who is genuinely concerned when you’re hurt or sad. Date someone who respects their family, who will respect your family. Someone who doesn’t accept your quarks but someone who loves them. Date someone who doesn’t hold you to the standards of sex or gender norms. Someone who sees you as the person you are, not the role you fill.
Fulfill your list. Make sure that encompasses the things that matter to you now, and the things that will be important to you in the future. Wait for someone who puts little checkmarks beside the more superficial areas of criteria. But don’t forget to hold out for the person who will always give you the same feeling you get as your food is being carried out at a restaurant.