Making a List, and Checking it Twice…

I know the holidays are long over, and if you still have your decorations up now that it’s February, you need to get your act together! When I say “making a list”, I’m not talking your about Christmas list, or if you’ve been good or bad. I’m talking about relationships and making a list to help you get what you want.

See, we make lists every day. We make them to go to the grocery store, to plan our tasks at work, to keep us aware of social obligations, to budget. The list goes on and on. Lists help to facilitate idea generation, organize thoughts, and keep track of progress. So why not make a list when it comes to finding someone to spend the rest of your life with (or at least date for a bit)?

Now before I go on, I want to clarify that I do not mean a long checklist of criteria that you’ll hold all your potential suitors to. That sort of list is often times unrealistic and limiting, and therefore unnecessary.  And unless you yourself can check off all those boxes, you have no right to expect your future significant other to do so. As my mother says, it’s not fair to hold someone else to expectations that you can’t even meet yourself.

The list I’m talking about is one that will allow you to put shit into perspective and focus in on what it is you’re actually looking for. It will help you decide what is a necessity when it comes to your perfect match, and what would just be nice to have. It will help you figure out what it is that you want. And that’s the first step isn’t it?

If you don’t know what you want, then what exactly are you even doing looking?

I made my list right before I turned 25. I’d been single for literally ever. I was making the same mistakes over and over again when it came to my relationships – or really, my almost relationships. I was having a quarter-life crisis and thought I needed to figure out what I was doing with my life. For some reason, instead of focusing the fact that I had a job and roommates that sometimes drove me crazy, I thought “let me find my answers in a man” (obviously this isn’t the right approach).

I’m a planner. I make lists constantly, and for some reason, making this list just felt right. But, I didn’t rush into it. I spent a few weeks thinking about what it was I wanted when it came to dating. Did I even want to be dating? Yes. Okay, so who did I want to be dating?

I remember keeping a small notebook with me and adding a quality here or there as I became aware that it was something that I wanted. It shocked me that I wanted to date someone who was smart. I’m not sure why, but I guess it had never occurred to me until I was making my list. I also didn’t realize how important it was to me that the person I end up with be family-oriented. My immediate family is close, but I’m not close with much extended family. I continued to add things and take away other things, question the word I chose, and run the list by my close friends.

Eventually I came up with this:


My list isn’t perfect. I never narrowed things down to just one word. Silly and funny could probably be combined, but it’s a work in progress and it helped me figure out what I want. And Mom, this is not my way of saying that Coach is my soulmate and we’re getting married. Far from it. But I do think that he has all of these qualities.

Looking at the list, I realize that it’s pretty spot on for what I look for in a friend too. I’ve said before that I wouldn’t be romantically involved with someone if I wouldn’t also want them as a friend. It’s the hopeless romantic in me, but I want to be best friends with whoever I end up with. That’s why I always used to fall for my friends.

The thing that was most unexpected in making the list is that doing so helped me realize who I want to be. Not just in a relationship, but for myself. I think that this is also ultimately the reason I’ve been able to open myself up to the possibility of being with someone, because I know I am a person I’d want to be with. And being this person set me up to attract another person with these qualities. Opposites might attract, but birds of a feather…

So drink the Kool-Aid and make your list:

  1. Write down all the qualities/characteristics/attributes you are looking for in a person. Don’t censor yourself here. Tall and handsome are okay to list. It doesn’t mean you’re shallow.
  2. Reflect on the words you’ve chosen. Do you mean “intelligent” when you wrote down “educated”? Does it matter that they are “intelligent” or is it about their passion to learn or for their work? Or their drive?
  3. Review your list. Cross off the characteristics that you can live without. Combine similar qualities or ones that can be grouped to fall under a larger characteristic. Narrow it down to 10-12 words.

When you’re done, rewrite it. Remember it. Put it somewhere safe. Go back and change in a few months or years.

I’m not promising that making a list of what you want will find you the perfect person. No one is perfect, and if that’s what you’re looking for then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. But by making a list of what you want, you figure out what you really want. And then when you’re looking for it, maybe you’ll be able to see it when it buys you a drink at your favorite bar.


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