Friday, August 1, 2008

The List

Four years ago, in 2004, when my first novel came out, a surprising number of young women wrote me to say how much they related to the story, especially to a part in it that I call The List--a detailed, numbered rundown of qualities the heroine of the story wanted in a romantic partner.

A guy friend, who assumed that the list was actually mine, chided me about it, saying how exacting my standards were. I remember smiling and thinking, “Oh, you have nooo idea.” Because the fact was that, my real list, was actually longer—more exacting—than the one I lent my fiction.

I’ve been thinking about that list recently—the real one, because it was due for an update--and how anxious I was about sharing it with anyone for two reasons: one, I was afraid I would come off as, exactly like my friend said, too exacting (like, ang OA! Who the hell does she think she is?) and two, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stick to it, anyway.

But after four serious relationships (lasting three years, five years, eight months, and three years, respectively), in which I routinely closed my eyes at many of my partner requirements (and even chucked out some of them after rationalizing that I was being “too idealistic”) in the name of making the relationship “work”—giving “flexibility” a whole new cartoon-like meaning--I do believe I’ve developed the kind of forgiving self-awareness and sturdy backbone that only hard-core experience makes, to say, “This is my list. I’ve earned it. I am no longer going to contort myself into impossible freakish poses just so I can be in a romantic relationship and continue to stay there.” It does not help anyone—not me nor the guy, who was always wonderful until I tried to make him do the same contortions I was making so that our relationship could fit the mold of my ideal. And I’m so lucky to have been blessed with really wonderful boyfriends who treated we well—or as well as they could given that there was a crazed love-addict contortionist in their midst.

But I know this now: If a guy doesn’t fit ALL the requirements—no matter how much you love his laugh or his little-boy grin—then he JUST. AIN’T. IT. Quit trying too hard already. Stick to your convictions. And leave the poor dear alone.

So, in the spirit of my new-found conviction to hold out for what I really, truly want (a conviction that gets stronger with the sad end of one more relationship), I’m putting out my real, unabridged, bahala-na-kung-ma-old-maid list here as a reminder to myself. With friends and family—and even strangers—as witnesses. I’ve done the whole “compromise” route, which really just means “I don’t think I’m worth the man of my dreams”—a cop-out mindset that women can only afford to nurture in their 20’s (and ok, early 30’s), but I think is one we all should be able to outgrow…at a certain point, preferably in this lifetime.

I think I may have reached that point. (Ay, thank God!)

Things I Really, Truly Want in a Partner (reinforced and updated, in no particular order)

1. Someone with a crazy sense of humor

2. Sweet and malambing, loves to touch and hold me all the time

3. Has a profound, very personal spirituality and sense of sacredness

4. Passionate about his work

5. Courageous enough to pursue his dreams

6. Doesn’t smoke

7. Loves to eat good and healthy food

8. A little boy at heart, has a child’s innate trust in the world and humanity

9. Sweet to his mother

10. Fits in well or tries to (but not too hard) with my family

11. Appreciates my friends

12. Someone I can talk to about a wide range of subjects

13. Well-read, loves books

14. Loves to travel with me and see the world

15. Smells good

16. Has original ideas and is not afraid to share them

17. Remembers things I say, even ones I’ve already forgotten I said

18. Knows how to talk to--or to just be with—children; nurturing

19. “Heroically romantic”

20. “Romantically heroic”

21. Loves to make love and knows how to connect sexually

22. Loves to give me backrubs and foot rubs

23. Socially and ecologically aware and mindful

24. Fiercely loyal and trustworthy

25. Cares a great deal about “making the world a better place”, beginning with himself

26. Has a great deal of respect for women

27. Someone who openly considers me his best friend

28. Secure and comfortable with himself, can feel at home in any environment

29. Always looks after my welfare

30. Open-minded and inclusive

31. Inspires me to be the best I can be

32. Values integrity, truth, learning, freedom, family, friendship, compassion

33. Has a strong moral core, but is not moralistic, self-righteous, judgmental and/or preachy

34. Gives me peace of mind just knowing he is there

35. Lives out the idea that “attention is the most basic form of love”

36. Cultivates and nurtures a healthy self-love (as opposed to narcissism)

37. Someone I can trust wholly and wholeheartedly

38. Someone who actively tries to live a kinder, saner, more grounded, balanced life

39. Someone who can take care of himself and doesn’t need me to take care of him

40. Someone who gets it

41. Someone I know for sure will love me progressively as we grow older and who I know for sure I will love progressively

42. Thinks me the girl of his dreams ;)

So there.

I know. Good luck to me…;)