The Unexpected Benefit Of Infusing Your ‘Ideal Partner List’ With Self-Love

Paulo Guilherme Neto
Paulo Guilherme Neto

I am not the first one who wrote an “Ideal partner list” and I won’t be the last. We know that we can’t define people by lists and expect them to stay that way all the time. People grow, change and shed old skin at unpredictable times. Yet, knowing exactly what we want helps eliminate random relationships that turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. I attempted to write that list six years ago but I wasn’t happy with what it had manifested into my life. So I decided to review and update it. My purpose was to get closer to myself by getting clear on who I am and who would complement me (not complete me).

As I was sitting up in my bed, reviewing my “Ideal partner wish list” from six years ago, I was a little appalled. I had no idea how much I had been influenced by Hollywood when it came to identifying what I wanted in an ideal partner. It was watermarked all over my wish list. It was hard to ignore.

There was an undertone of entitlement in my wishes. They sounded more like demands than requests or desires. My list looked like I was ordering a custom healing balm to soothe my inner aches and pains. Not as if I wanted a partner to grow and reach deeper levels of intimacy with. And that was reflected in all my past relationships, including my eight-year marriage.

After seeing my belief system, expectations, and how I approached relationships, the reality of it all sat in my stomach for a couple of days. It was no surprise that I had pretty tumultuous relationships since writing that list. I knew that the new list had to be based on self-love, not on Hollywood ideals I had allowed myself get brainwashed by.

This time, the items on my list seemed far from the requests of six year-old who is throwing a temper tantrum and expecting the other person to heal them. They came from a place of knowing myself deeply and wanting to give myself nothing less than the best.

By now, I had had enough experiences and relationships to know which qualities I need my partner to have for the relationship to not take away from my existing happiness, and contribute to my growth as a human being. I knew my unhealed places and my must-haves based on my core values. I felt solid in myself. I felt strong.

Less than two months away from turning 40, I understand one thing very clearly now: A partner is not a cure for all my problems, or for how good I feel about myself. He is only responsible for his half: his happiness and his choices. He is not responsible for making me happy.

Yet, I let myself desire what I desire. For instance, historically, I am attracted to men who can fix anything around the house and find ingenious ways to overcome a problem they encounter while doing that. It’s sexy. I desire that. I enjoy that. But my happiness does not depend on it.

There is even a bigger, unexpected benefit to the new version filtered through self-love: this new list feels real, achievable, and believable to me. Because it is based on truth I have gathered about myself. This, of course, increases its power and my faith in it even more.

Since I wrote my new list almost three months ago, I feel relaxed in the knowing that the right partner will show up when he is due. Not a minute sooner or later. And I have no control over that. I kick back and live my life, enjoy relationships, grow through them, and do not make the guys I date the potential father of my children right away. I let them reveal who they are and I reveal who I am in time, and see if there is enough overlap for us to continue.

If I am here today, enjoying the peace of this knowing, anyone can get here. Here are a few steps to get you going in that direction:

1. Start paying attention to your own emotional responses to life.

Instead of worrying about how you’re pleasing your partner, your boss, your family or your friends, bring your energy back to yourself. Notice what excites you. What kind of a life do you see yourself living? What do you look forward to in your own life- with or without a partner? Get a little notebook to carry with you at all times and write down everything about you.

“I love taking hot showers even in summer,” “I enjoy a quiet dinner with a few good people rather than large parties where everyone gets lost”, “My dad calls my mom at work every day. I like that. And so does she.” Get to know you. That is the gateway to knowing what to look for in a partner who is ideal for you.

2. Notice how you meet your own emotional needs.

We all have them and will have them until we give our last breath. No need to judge or feel badly about having needs.

What makes you feel cared about? What pisses you off to no end? What do you do when you feel sad, lonely, or upset? How do you find inspiration in life? What takes away your trust and what keeps it strong? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you know what makes you happy as an individual.

3. Write a report of your findings of this inner research from a place of self-appreciation.

Write this report on yourself as if you a secret self-love agent. It is meant to be a loving mirror of who you are, what tickles you, and what takes your smile away.

4. Re-write your new “ideal partner” wish list based on the person you know yourself to be.

Create an avatar for the partner who would complement you and who can support you in becoming the man/woman you are here to be.

The key is not feeling pressured to create a perfect list and taking your time to complete this process. It could take days or weeks, which is perfectly OK. Allow yourself to enjoy getting to know yourself. Write this new list as a celebration of who you are based on what you find out, accept, and love about yourself. That will be mirrored back to you by your new partner and by the whole Universe. You are worth it! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog