My mom and I talk a lot about love and relationships. She and my dad were married for 26 years, literally half of her life. At 28, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be with someone for quite frankly my entire existence. I have changed so much over the years, so it is easy for me to understand how people can grow apart. That is essentially what happened with my parents. No one is the same at 25 as they are at 50. Even if your personal growth is minimal, the trials and tribulations of life will leave their mark on you, nonetheless, forcing growth. I’ve yet to settle down, and despite the external pressure women feel to walk down the aisle and start procreating, I am glad life did not put me on the immediate path of matrimony. At this big age, I’ve had time to figure myself out, little by little. I am confident in who I am; I am not who someone else has decided I should be. Being comfortable in my own skin has granted me the clarity to discern who is for me and who isn’t. While my mom and I were on the topic, I actually opened my Notes app and showed her a sizable list of what I am looking for. A few of the qualities I included were family oriented, in good mental/physical health, has integrity, and does not have anger/jealousy issues. I can’t lie, my list boasts a total of 42 different traits/qualities, but to me, they are realistic. I added a few superficial things, like someone I find attractive, good in bed, etc., but my main focus was on personality traits and other qualities that I need to feel safe and secure. Of course I would be naive to expect one man to meet every single item on my list, but I feel like if I am as specific as possible, the universe will deliver. All that being said, I want other women to take a mental inventory of what they want in a partner. Standards are more than just a few things on a list. They are necessary to determine what type of life you are willing to be comfortable living when you commit to someone.
Learn From The Past
Human beings are creatures of habit. If it’s familiar, it feels safe. This is why we tend to pick the same types over and over. Deciding you are no longer dating light skinned men will not save you from infidelity, immaturity, and inconsistency. How do you know you’re not signing back up for the same old show again? You have to take your time and dive deeper than outward appearance. If you state that you are no longer dating men who do not bring in a consistent income, why would you spend your time getting to know a struggling SoundCloud rapper who can’t hold down a day job? Sure, TNT LilYoungboy may be your type physically, but think back to your mental inventory of what you want in a partner. If he isn’t in line with your most important needs, you shouldn’t be entertaining him. This gets especially hard when your hormones start raging and you start imagining what your future kids will look like. Just like with managing money and calories, you have to be disciplined enough to not just go after what makes you feel good, but with what adds value. I try not to judge myself too harshly when I was spending my time with men who oozed sex appeal, but lacked character. I was constantly preaching about what I would and would not stand for, until Mr. Fine came stepping through.
All of that strong woman talk was forgotten about and I soon ended up right back where I started. When you make your list, really put some thought into what is most important to YOU. Depending on where you are in your self-development journey, this may or not may be a difficult exercise. If you find that you’ve hit a block, think back to your most recent adult relationships. What worked well and what didn’t? Did you hate how he would blow off date nights so that he could pretend to be Kobe Bryant at L.A. Fitness with his friends? Perhaps “a man who makes me a priority” is a good place to start. Was his social life non-existent and he was content being underfoot all the time? Add “a man with his own circle of friends and hobbies” to your list. Past relationships give us the ability to determine what we are looking for simply through the process of elimination. Sure, you may not know what you want, but by deciding what you don’t want, you’re off to a great start.
Slow Your Roll
So you’ve made your list and left no room for inconsistent, game playing, and ugly (just kidding on the ugly, haha) men to creep into your life. Good for you! You’ve taken control and set your intentions for your love life. When I finally decided I was done with situationships and other messy, half-ass relationships, I felt powerful. It was so easy to blame the men I was dealing with for hurting my feelings and stringing me along, when in reality I was the one who allowed it. Luckily, I am not one of those people who never learn. Did I turn ruthless over night? Of course not. It took a level of awareness that I gained over several months. Oftentimes when we are in the middle of something, we fail to see it as it really is. Family members and friends will be the first to tell you that you’re wasting your time, but we often can’t see the forest for the trees. This is what makes sticking to your standards so difficult. We meet people who check off all the boxes on a surface level and the blinders come on. These shallow interactions distract you from the fact that this person may be abusive, controlling, self-absorbed, etc. By the time the lust wears off and you remove the blinders, you get down in the dumps because it hit you that you’ve wasted a significant amount of time on someone who had no business in your life. Here’s the good news: this is a problem that you can conquer easily with patience. It is impossible to know if your new love interest is up to your specifications if you rush every encounter. Sure, physical chemistry can be hard to deny, but be an adult and have some discipline. Get out of the house and take full advantage of the chance to see how he acts outside his comfort zone. Stop texting and have meaningful conversations over the phone and face to face. Do you want someone who is family-oriented? Pay close attention to how he speaks of his family and the efforts he makes to be a present, reliable family member. You will not know if someone is made for you after a couple of dates and a few cupcaking sessions on the phone, but you can take comfort in the fact that you’re putting in the necessary effort to make that determination.
Ultimately, it boils down to compatibility. Once you’ve uncovered all the layers, you may very well still like this person, but if you’re incompatible, please do not force it. After all, it doesn’t take a lot to simply like a person. However, not everyone we like is suited for us. Not everyone we like is relationship material. Whether you want it to work because you two have chemistry but nothing else, or because you lack chemistry but he checks off 80% of your needs, realize that nothing forced will stand the test of time. When you are ready to get serious about who you invite into your life, seeking someone you can grow with is of the utmost importance. Stay true to yourself and what you require and the rest will fall in line.