It always seems that it’s a bad idea to keep a checklist, blah blah. Don’t overlook that guy just because he’s shorter than 5’10”. Don’t pass up that girl just because she’s not as busty as Kate Upton. Basically, don’t judge a book by its cover lest it distracts you from what’s truly important.
So what is “truly important”? Having lived in New York for almost three years and dated more “young professionals” than I’d originally anticipated (Sex and the City woes – they’re real), I’ve distilled my life mantra to just one thing: keep it simple. A life simply lived is one that is free from unnecessary distractions. It is efficient, focused, and unburdened. In terms of finding that perfect companion, then, there are fundamental things we too often overlook in the face of superficial qualities — qualities that at first glance seem enticing enough, but can end up making life hella complicated. So put on your pragmatic hat, and let’s begin this checklist.
5. Must stay in touch with family.
I once went on a date with this guy who worked for a prestigious consulting firm. With pride, he told me about his sister who graduated from this Ivy League school who’s now doing her PhD in this other Ivy league school. “Oh, really?” I asked, mildly curious. “How old is your sister?” He blanked out, then looked at me in the eye, and said “I dunno?” Upon further inquiry he told me he hadn’t talked to his family for “quite some time”. So I sat there silently counting all future birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries he would inevitably miss — not because he would miss it on purpose, oh God no. That would make him a terrible person. Instead he’d probably just end up “too busy”.
4. Must read.
Fiction, non-fiction, the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker. Whatever floats your boat. In this day and age, reading becomes especially necessary as technology and social media rob us of a certain level of intellectual stimulation, and therefore erodes values, making them more generic, more flat, more meaningless. The perspectives one may gain through reading is larger than corporate culture, larger than the market economy, larger than image, social status and the accessibility brought on by financial wealth — and for that reason, do yourself a favor: don’t date people who proudly claim they “never read”, because no matter how successful they may be in their careers, they’re fundamentally idiots.
3. Must have a hobby.
No, sex with you is not a viable hobby. We all need an activity that keeps us grounded so we don’t succumb to alcoholism or ennui. Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls this “flow” — the feeling of complete immersion into a task that brings about energized focus and a renewed sense of self. In the very least it’ll keep them occupied — I mean, what else are they going to do? Day drinking, Netflix, getting fat.
2. Must have friends.
They should have a circle of close-knit support besides you that he or she can spend quality time with. You’re not this person’s panacea for loneliness or existential woes nor should you ever aspire to be. In a healthy relationship, we all need our space – be with someone who shares this sentiment, not someone who resents it.
1. Must have time.
Your ideal mate must be physically available to spend time with you. How else are you supposed to build experiences together, bond through these experiences, and establish trust and familiarity? This probably means “no” to the consultant who spends two months away traveling three different continents in hope of making partner by the age of 30, to the trader who’s up at 2am on a conference call to China, to the ER resident who comes home when you’re leaving for work. Of course, there will always be exceptions, but if you have a choice, why would you choose a complicated life over a non-complicated one?