My list is exceedingly short. But it’s also exceedingly non-negotiable.
I don’t know why so many people — especially women my age — harbor these ridiculous lists of demands that don’t matter.
Tall. High-income. Nice car. Nice apartment — and good decor. Good family. Good hair. Good nose. Works out. Drinks what I drink. Likes the same music. Has the same hobbies. Travels. Does brunch on the weekend and trivia at night. Wants a golden retriever — and 2 kids. Shit goes on.
Ladies, I love you, but these lists are ridic. We’re just creating obscene demands to distract ourselves from the real work of deciding what’s important. I’m not going to tell you what you should want; I’ll only suggest that we define it better.
When I think about what I want in a life partner, the questions I ask aren’t things like “what his earning potential?” but rather “what’s this guy going to do when shit really hits the fan?” Because it will. And when it does, no amount of luxury vehicles or nice hair or good looks will do me much good.
Don’t get me wrong — I definitely have a physical “type” that I go for, but looks don’t matter that much in the long run. I’ve dated tall, short, skinny, fat, older, younger, good hair, no hair, and various states of balding. (I’ve also dated high income, low income, same religion, different religion… dudes with luxury cars, beaters, and interests in all kinds of music and hobbies — I don’t care.)
There are only 2.5 things that actually matter to me
I like the simplicity of “trifectas” — “tall, dark and handsome” being the classic, albeit bad, example. My own list is “emotional stability, critical thought, and friendship.”
Looks don’t make the cut — and even if pushed to list more, “looks” wouldn’t even crest the top ten. Frankly, I’d just extrapolate my top three into specifics. Because all I care about are these.
1) Sanity (i.e., Emotional Stability)
Self-esteem. Self-sufficiency. Mental health. Composure.
At a bare minimum (non-negotiable): he can make it through 99.9% of his days without having a meltdown. He deals with everyday setbacks without flailing, he follows through on what he says he’ll do, and, for the love of god, he takes responsibility for his own mistakes — and then some. He is secure, and self-sufficient. He doesn’t struggle with jealousy, clinginess, neediness, overreactions, toxicity, or crippling anxiety, nor does he whine, whimper, complain, cling, interrupt, get defensive, seek revenge, make excuses, or demand constant affirmation (and ideally, he also doesn’t lie, cheat or steal.) He’s not governed by his emotions and he makes decisions with logic. He’s dependable, he’s emotionally rugged, he’s solid AF.
Ideally (not required, but nice to have): boy’s got grit. He not only endures everyday hardship, but prospers because of it; not just passively accepting setbacks, but actively pushing through despite them.
I compromised on this once (okay, twice) and I regretted it. The first time, I got a stage-five clinger. The second, a codependent. Both because I prioritized the other two things in my trifecta and let this slide. Never again.
2) Intelligence (i.e., Critical Thinking)
Too often people bastardize the idea of “smart” as “knowing a lot of facts,” “being good at trivia,” “having an advanced degree,” or “working a big job.”
But real intelligence isn’t about what you know. It’s how you think. It’s problem solving — finding or figuring out the answer, not remembering it.
At a bare minimum (non-negotiable): when he encounters a problem, he not only refrains from a meltdown (see above) — he solves it. He’s got clean, accurate logic and he knows what to do with it. He loves a good challenge, never shies from a setback, and steps up to solve shit time and time again when the going gets tough. He’s intellectually rugged, and I want him around.
Ideally (not required, but nice to have): he’s successfully applied this (and his grit) in his work, and done or built something valuable. (Super extra bonus points: he can work on bikes and/or he’s an engineer — because, all this considered, I sure do love me an engineer.)
These two are the only real requirements. But to round out the trifecta, here’s my third item:
2.5) Laughter (i.e., Friendship)
Look. I yearn deeply for friendship in love. It is deliciously nice to have, and a lack of it was a big part of the reason I left my longest relationship. But the reason it’s only ranked 0.5 — and is third on the list — is because the other two are so important that I would happily relinquish it if doing so meant I really got the other two on lockdown. That aside, here’s how my third would look:
At a bare minimum: he makes me laugh. We have an inside joke or two. There’s comfort and ease and play. We’re real and actual friends. He understands me — I’m not a conventional person, and overall he’s picking up what I’m putting down.
Ideally (not required, but nice to have): he’s my best friend. Nobody makes me laugh or gets me like he does.
Having a great relationship is, of course, predominantly about putting in the effort and work. But first build your house on a solid foundation, and focus on just a few key things to get a good one.