How To Find Your Perfect Partner
Hint: Values are more important than looks.
I was single for a very long time. So my Aunt reminded me at a Christmas lunch one year. "Aren't you wanting to meet someone?” she asked. And the answer was a confident yes. I certainly did, it was just taking longer to meet ‘my person’ than I expected. Having been in a relationship for eight years and it not working, I was determined not to settle.
I dated all of the ways, on all of the weekends, and while I had fun -- I got over fun quickly, often feeling disappointed, embarrassed (Tinder and alcohol, I am looking at you) and incredibly out of control.
Over time more and more people would repeat the words “it will happen when you’re not looking”, and while at times I felt like punching them because it was so frustrating, I started to understand that there may be some truth behind this somewhat condescending piece of advice.
The daily process of giving up control for a part of my life that meant so much to me was incredibly difficult. Having a partner to support me, laugh with me, eventually have children with me, weren’t small parts of my story. I didn’t sit back to see how my career panned out. I worked hard. So, I decided to approach my love life a little more meticulously, rather than sitting back and waiting for Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.
The real game changer for me was when I made a list. That’s right, like a shopping list. I wrote down words as well as specific descriptions of my ideal partner. I imagined him (her/them... if you’re playing along at home) vividly. I thought about what we would do together, how I would feel with them and made it my dream list! NO settling required here! (Chicks, I am looking at you).
My list included words like creative, tall, dark, wavy hair, successful... And over time I started to meet wavy haired, tall, creative men and thought I was in! I had manifested the man of my dreams and it felt awesome. But only once I'd dated three or four of these dudes did I realise something was missing. Some sort of substance. The laughs were there and the flirting was fun but it felt like the emotional level was more similar to the relationship of a really good work colleague and not one of a deeper connection I was yearning for.
I referred back to the list and realised that many of my words described what this person looked like. The things he did on the surface rather than the way he made me feel. This is where I realised I had written down a type of man as opposed to the essence of a man. Many of us do this. We describe potential partners looks and jobs rather than their personality and value system.
Karen Naumaan -- an organisational psychologist -- suggests values “work as our powerhouse”, adding that they are like “the mitochondria in a cell”. Which I found a little confusing. But the bottom line is, they are important.
“Living a life where you keep compromising your values is like a small flame that will eventually burst into a fire, and you’ll be the first one to get burned,” Naumaan says.
She was right.
Values like being kind, reliable, honest, funny were going to make a much better father and partner than hot, tall and dark.
I went forth and worked out my own personal values to then match them to the attributes of an ideal partner. It started to feel easier. Not only could I see him, I could feel him. Things started to shift and the people I was attracting were more aligned with my dorky, giggly self rather than matching my appearance and fancy media job.
While meeting my husband didn’t happen on a timeline I chose, I started to feel more assertive. Often, I had felt helpless, alone and lost, which would lead me to be open to people that were never going to work for me. But creating a values list changed that. I instantly felt like I had the power to choose. It gave me the confidence to say yes and no more easily.
Since I had identified what my values were and what I was looking for, the question of whether I should see someone for the sake of it because I was free on a Friday night became much clearer, and I stopped wasting time on people I knew didn’t fit this list and more time with myself and spag bol.
I felt like I had regained some form of control.
My husband Ben looks nothing like I had imagined. (SO MANY TATTOOS). Yet I have never felt more attracted to anyone in my life. He is kind, reliable, honest and funny, and that’s the kind of lover and father I figured out works best for me.
This post first appeared on August 22, 2018.