There’s a very specific method I like to use when I’m trying to decide whether or not someone’s worth dating.
First, I sit down and think – long and hard – about every single trait that I desire in a potential partner.
I debate the pros and cons of various possible professions. I determine the importance of family ties. I consider whether I a chiseled jawline or a soft, forgiving smile and exactly how many inches taller or shorter I’d like them to be in comparison to myself. I research the components of long-lasting partnership. I consider how they’d measure up. I consult with friends and coworkers and eventually sit down to write a long, exhaustive list of exactly whom I’d like to end up with.
Then I decide whether or not to pursue the relationship based on how badly he or she makes me want to rip up the list.
Here’s the thing when it comes to finding love: There is no formula for it. And if there were, it would be a whole lot easier to manage. We’d date someone if they meet a list of ten or twenty ideal criteria. We’d reject them based on a list of ‘red flag’ items. We’d never have to wonder if someone was right or wrong with us because the answer would be written all over the facts and the decision would be simple as that.
And yet it’s not as simple as that. Instead, we find ourselves deliberating endlessly.
He’s really nice but I’m not nuts about his friends.
She’s cute and funny but her room is kind of messy.
We weigh lists of pros and cons like they are the be-all end-all of our love lives and we’re still never sure who to commit to.
Until, all of a sudden, we are.
Because here’s what’s too easy to forget when you’ve been mating and dating and deliberating for years to no avail: The right person will defy each pro and con.
Must have their exact smile. Their exact charm. Their exact job, their exact family, their exact personality and their exact quirks. The quirks you’d hate in absolutely anyone else. The quirks that are ironically what you love most about them.
They might be two inches two short. In an outlandishly strange profession. Abhorrent of dogs, excessively bearded and entirely unable to pronounce “Hermione” or “Voldemort.” And yet for you, that will suddenly be perfect. You will relish the chance to wear flats, learn about their strange job, fall asleep in their haphazard bedroom and re-watch the Harry Potter movies. Your list will be an afterthought. The strange, unconventional nuances of everything they are will be the new ‘must haves.’
We forget that in the busy, bustling world full of indifferent people who are only ever half-right for us, there could be one or two who are so inexplicably wonderful for us that we couldn’t possibly have made them up. That the way they make us feel makes every ‘con’ on our list seem disposable. That the work we put in will be infinitely, inarguably worthwhile. That not trying with everything in it to make the relationship work won’t be an option. That indifference will not make the radar.
And when you meet someone like that, you’ll realize that what you’ve been doing all along has been a futile, pointless game. Because the truth of the matter is, if you have to wonder whether or not they’re right for you, they’re probably not.
If they were right, you wouldn’t need a list. You wouldn’t need to deliberate. You wouldn’t need to weigh the pros and cons, carefully mark out your options and determine whether or not they would fit neatly into your life.
With the right person, you would know.
You’d know that the unchecked boxes can be altered. That the criteria they’re missing doesn’t matter. That whatever it takes to fit them into your life, you’ll make work.
Because as the most infuriating of all happy couples like to claim, when you know, you know.
And until then, you just keep searching.