Why is it so difficult to find someone with whom we are compatible?
When people, especially women, find out that I study love, they inevitably tell me a story about someone in their lives who is either single or in a bad relationship. They want to know what they can tell them to help them along their path to love. The truth is, love is not a science. I don’t have a special equation to give them that will guarantee that they find a true love that will last forever. I wish I did. Can you imagine all of the heartache that might be avoided if we were taught a clear and concise path to and through love?
Funny thing is, the media tells us that it’s simple. We’re taught that love can happen in a moment and that if it is really true love, then we will live happily ever after. Media has taught us that there are a few tricks to finding our true love: We can either look into the eyes of our soulmate and we will know; we can act helpless and wait to be rescued; or we can kiss enough frogs until one of them turns into a prince (this one is particularly dangerous because when you kiss frogs you date frogs...and when you date frogs, you ultimately marry a frog. Then you have to divorce a frog or live with his ugly warts forever and divorces are uglier than the frog you kissed in the first place).
The truth is, the media lies. Most of us are sent out into the world with hearts full of dreams but no helpful tools to help us make that love happen.
So, I don’t have the magical equation, but I definitely have some helpful tools that might help you find someone with whom you really can spend the rest of your life loving.
Here it is in five easy steps:
STEP 1: MAKE YOUR LOVE LIST What do you love? Before you can figure out WHO you want to love, you need to identify WHAT you love.
Make a list of every single thing that you can think of that you love. You can use the computer or just a blank piece of paper and a pen. If you’re creative, get out your colored pencils.
The beginning of my love list might include: my husband’s dedication to our family, seeing my girls smile at me every morning, my family, writing as a way to get out what’s inside, loving, grape juice with crushed ice, cherry kool-aid, hot chocolate with whipped cream and caramel sauce with a little bit of sea salt, cheering for Craig and the Seahawks when he played football, learning about God, waking up feeling rested, self-serve frozen yogurt stores, the smell of paper copy stores, crisp fall days, white sweatshirts, learning, teaching, soft blankets, playing board games, Craig’s music, back rubs, traveling overseas, discovering new places, being home, inspiring conversations, thinking through new ideas, dreaming, spreadsheets, sleeping babies, playing basketball, reading poetry, live concerts, finishing a project, a clean house...but not cleaning a house, s'mores, Chicago, Colorado, Seattle, Banff, mountains, fireworks, feeling at home with friends...
The goal of your love list is to help put you in a loving frame of mind. This is a fun activity whether you are single, dating, or married. Rereading your love list and it will not only make you happier about living in a world with so many things that you love, but it will also allow you to reflect of who you are in relation to the rest of the world.
STEP 2: CREATE YOUR MUST HAVE AND CANT STAND LISTS
Before you go out into the dating world, it is important that you know what you’re looking for. This list will help you figure out WHO you want your future husband or wife to be...or at least what qualities you would like for him or her to have.
For this step, you must limit your must have and can’t stand lists to ten items each and you must be specific. For example, you cannot just say that you would like for your partner to be athletic. It’s too broad and leaves wiggle room later on when you are trying to convince yourself that the guy you’re dating is athletic because he bowls once in a while. If you want a bowler, then say that you want a bowler. But if you’d like someone who runs marathons or someone who works out daily at the gym, then say that instead.
You’re going to need a piece of blank paper. Title one side, “My Top Ten Must Haves” and number 1-10. The other side is going to be for, “My Top Ten Can’t Stands.”
Here are some ideas for you to consider:
Traits (chemistry, communicator, sense of humor, verbal intimacy, emotionally healthy, strong character, artistic, kind, educated, organized, exciting, patient, tolerant, attractive, conflict resolver, affectionate, industrious, certain energy level, emotionally generous, intellectual, self-confident, unassuming, able to accept help, curious, loyal, adaptable)
Values (family life, shared interests, style and appearance, politics, charitable)
Family (children, parenting style)
Social Habits (like to go out, stay in, many friends or a few, gives me space or wants to spend all of their time with me)
Sexuality (abstinent, sexually knowledgeable, passionate)
Spirituality (religious practice, spiritual acceptance)
Financial/Career (financially responsible, ambitious, relaxed)
Here are a few of my must-haves from before I met Craig:
- He must either write poetry or sing...and be willing to share his poetry or songs with me.
- He must be taller than I am.
- He must be able to beat me at basketball.
- He must be intelligent and able to teach me about things that I don’t know.
- He must have dark hair and light eyes.
- He must be faithful.
- He must want children.
- He must adore me and make me feel like I am the only woman in his eyes.
- He must be able to provide financially for our family but also be okay with me working outside of the home.
- He must be a good conversationalist and we must enjoy talking to each other.
There are a few things that I might change now that I lucked into with Craig. For example, at the time I didn’t realize how important it was for me to be with someone whose religious convictions were similar to mine. We just lucked out that we were kind of at the same place with that. I would encourage you to make that a higher priority than I did.
When you’re done with that list, it’s time to create your Can’t Stand List. This list is very similar to your Must Have List, but in reverse. Here’s your opportunity to add a few more things to your list that you couldn’t fit on your must-haves. Again, you are limited to just 10 items. You can do this one on the same page as your must-haves if you’d like. I find it easier to have these two together because when you’re evaluating a future prospect, you’ll want to have both lists easy to find.
After creating this list, it should be a bit easier for you to picture what your ideal spouse may be like. These lists are SO IMPORTANT because when you meet or start dating someone who has something that is on your can’t stand list or who is missing something on your must have list, you are going to walk away immediately. You’re not going to keep dating them in hopes that it will change. That is a recipe for many years of unhappiness. Just walk away. Do not stay out of the fear of being alone. It may not seem like it at first, but alone is a much happier place to be than stuck in a relationship with someone who has one of your fundamental red flags.
CAUTION: If you are married, do not do this list. There are more beneficial exercises for you that will help you focus on the positive qualities of your spouse.
CAUTION: If you are currently in a relationship but not married, please pretend like you are not in that relationship when you are creating this list. Sometimes people have a tendency to fib a bit or omit certain characteristics because that may eliminate the person who they are currently dating. Please take note of that as you do this exercise.
STEP 3: SELF IMPROVEMENT -
Now that you have a clearer vision of who you are looking for, take a moment to think about what type of person they might want. What do you think that they might find attractive? For example, if you are looking for someone who is athletic and loves to work out at the gym, then might they be attracted to someone who also enjoys working out at the gym? Or if you are looking for someone who is honest, then might they like someone who is honest too?
Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Who do you want them to see when they look at you?
On a new piece of paper, make a list of the top three qualities that you think that your dream spouse might look for in their spouse.
Now, go over that list and compare the list to who you are and how you are currently living your life. What do you need to do to become that person? Pick at least one of the areas to work on so that you can become the person who you want them to want.
STEP 4: ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
Everything is easier if we have someone in our lives to help hold us accountable. After you’ve created these four lists, please share a copy of them with a trusted friend. Ideally, this will be someone of the same sex or someone who you know will always be just a friend. Explain to them what they mean and ask them to hold you accountable in sticking to the lists when you find someone new.
STEP 5: BE THERE
The final step is simple. Put yourself in the types of places that your ideal person would be. For example, if you don’t want a future husband or wife who enjoys hanging out in bars or clubs, then bars and clubs are not where you should spend your time. If you want someone who loves watching live sports, go to live sports games. If you want someone who loves to ski, hang out on the mountain. You get the idea.
So, there it is -- five steps to finding the love of your life. Living happily ever after isn’t simple even with the most compatible partner, but it sure is a lot easier than trying to make it happen when you’re spending your time with someone who isn’t right for you.
Let me know as you go...what’s on your love list? What are you looking for in your mate? I’d love to hear your success stories too!