There’s a great line from the Coldplay song “Fix You”: “When you get what you want but not what you need.”
When applied to dating and love, we can learn a lot from this sentiment.
Many singles live, breathe, and die by a dating checklist – a list of wants in their ideal partner and ideal relationship. I’m reminded of journalist and reality TV show star Julia Allison’s (she starred on the Bravo show “Miss Advised”) infamous 73-point checklist, which she discussed with viewers on her Bravo show.
I’m not entirely opposed to singles creating a short list of things they’re looking for in a man and long-term commitment, and I’m certainly a proponent of singles having a few “non-negotiables” – things or qualities about someone that they would never compromise on. For example, when I was dating, I could absolutely not date a man who smoked.
I think the problem arises when the checklists become all about what you want and not actually about what you need. As I discovered in my own single life, the type of man I actually needed (my now-husband) was very different than the type of man I thought I always wanted.
Using Julia Allison’s aforementioned list, for example, let’s pull out just a few of what I consider to be her wants:
• Reads The Atlantic, Fast Company, WIRED
• Fantastic conversationalist
• Can talk with him for hours and not run out of things to say
• Handsome / tall / great body / will age well / full head of hair
• Preppy dresser
• Beautiful writer and speaker
• Writes love letters
Do you have a list similar to some of the above bullet points? I’d argue that none of these items are actually things that Allison actually needs from her future partner to be in a healthy, happy relationship.
I always tell clients, when you’re sitting in the rocking chair next to your husband 30 years from now, are you going to look back and say, “Wow, we had a lifetime full of such happiness and great memories, but gee, I wish he had been 3 inches taller.”
• Does her future man really need to read certain types of magazines for the two of them to forge a fulfilling relationship together?
• Does he need to be creative and what does that mean, anyway?
• Does he really need to be the most fantastic conversationalist ever, where they never stop talking and never run out of things to say to enjoy a meaningful partnership?
• Does he need to be 6’0” and above and have a luscious head of hair for her to feel true intimacy with her man?
• Does he need to be in the field of entrepreneurship or have started his own company for her to feel a great love between them?
• Does he need to be a skilled orator and writer and capable of writing poetic love letters for her to be happy in a relationship?
Are these things that she thinks she needs in a man really just wants? What are her actual needs in a relationship and in a man?
• Does he need to be kind, emotionally available, and trustworthy?
• Who is the type of man that she needs to complement or match up with her?
• If she’s super fiery and dominant, does she need a mirror image of herself?
• Maybe she wants a super fiery, dominant man, but is that actually who she needs to create a peaceful, loving, long-term relationship?
To her credit, she does a good job of listing some of these types of “needs” qualities, and it is those items that I would argue she should focus more on in her dating life.
So if you have a list and it’s heavy on the wants but light on the needs, try shaking things up. Go through your list and ask yourself for each item the following question: “OK, yes, this is something I’ve always fantasized I wanted, but what on this list are things/qualities I actually need to thrive in a relationship?”
Then use that short list as your baseline in your dating life.
I think you’ll find your heart becomes much more open to and aware of the different types of great men out there.