I was recently inspired by an executive at my company who spoke eloquently about her leadership philosophy. It was concise, compelling, and created a sense of purpose that I craved. Intrigued, I drafted my own, and then wondered what it would be like to turn the tables introspectively towards my own love life. What was my love philosophy? What did I value? How would I apply it?
I’ve been single off and on for the past three years. In the last eight years, I’ve had two serious boyfriends, six romantic partners that lasted more than a few dates, and countless first and second dates. I’ve gone through phases, applying a scientific process to dating life optimization. I’ve said yes to everyone who asked me out. I’ve given up on dating entirely. I’ve treated dating like a sales funnel in which I optimize for the greatest number of closes at each stage of the online dating life cycle (likes, matches, responses, conversations, first date asks, second date asks). More recently, I’ve started to apply more of a filtering approach: having cast the net wide across OKC, The League, and Bumble, it’s time to narrow in what matters most to me.
- I will invest heavily emotionally up front. I am not emotionally damaged, untrusting, or fearful of commitment. Rather, I have a full heart, often bursting at the seams and filled to the brim with a strong desire to care deeply about another human and have those feelings be reciprocated. I will love effortlessly and deeply fairly quickly. As a result, it’s important that:
- I will be selective and picky so as not to waste your time (or mine). I have standards. I am smart, adaptable, and patient enough to make it work with just about anyone, but have learned through a few experiences that just because I can, doesn’t mean that I should. I could say yes to every man who asks me out, but it’s wasting everyone’s time if I don’t see a future with him from the beginning.
- I value being single over settling. It’s taken some time to fully commit to this, but I’d rather be alone than unhappy in a relationship that will not work out in the long-run.
- There is a difference between a boyfriend and a best friend. One of my past boyfriends told me that he refused to be an “emotional tampon” for his spouse. After balking at the expression, I agreed with the principle. I don’t want my boyfriend to shoulder all of the weight of my emotional turmoil; that’s too much pressure on one person. I also refuse to be one of those people who abandons her best friends because she has a boyfriend to whom she chooses to devote all of her time and attention. I need variety and I need to be fair to my partner.
- There is a difference between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now and I prefer to date for long-term potential. I’m busy and time is a finite, precious resource. In a world where every minute used doing one thing means sacrificing other productive choices, I want to be very conscious of how I choose to spend my time. Spending too much time with Mr. Right Now, even if fun, is wasteful in the long-term unless I’m deriving an alternative benefit (e.g.: short-term gratification). While the delineation between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now is sometimes unclear in the beginning, as soon as the clarification emerges, it’s time to cut it off if he’s the latter. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Having dated both, I prioritize substance over looks. The beautiful, sexy, but not-so-smart man always lets me down at the dinner table (and sometimes, even in the bedroom). I want hours of long conversation that has tangents and oscillates beautifully from the emotional to the philosophical, from the practical to the ridiculously speculative. Entertain me with words and I will love you forever.
- I need a partner who is busy and ambitious because co-dependency isn’t sexy. I want a partner who makes time for me instead of someone who’s availability has a default expectation of yes outside of working hours. I will live an equally busy life and be a better partner because of it.
- I will occasionally prioritize work over love. And that’s ok, because like attracts like. I’ll find someone who loves working just as much as I do. We’ll carve out time from our busy schedules to be with each other and value our time together more because of it.
- I will not pretend to enjoy being “outdoorsy.” My idea of “hiking” is walking in a park on a flat incline for about twenty minutes before I get cranky because I’m sweaty and my hair is getting frizzy and I want to go back inside. I want work dates in our future, where we sit next to each other on the couch, shoulder to shoulder with our laptops, working to change our respective pieces of the world. If you’re super outdoorsy, I will compromise with long walks, preferably those at wineries or along the ocean.
- I am uncompromising in my ideals but flexible in my approach. I’m open to change for the right person and relentlessly focused on improvement. After every relationship or even every turn in a relationship, I’m highly introspective and analytical, because I want to keep getting better and I know that I’m not perfect. Even for someone as goal-oriented and operationally-minded as me, nothing in love in certain.
I hope I’ve inspired you to think more critically and introspectively about what you prioritize in dating and relationships. In a world where choice is unending, it’s helpful to apply a framework to aid in filtering. I encourage you to develop your own love philosophy and if you’re brave enough, share it.