Standards Revisted (Because Sometimes Lists Can Be a Good Thing)

Ever since I became aware of the fact that boys didn’t actually suck (and didn’t actually have cooties), I’ve kept a list: Must be tall, must appreciate classical music, must not smoke pot and so on.

desirable traits in men

Given my penchant for writing and writing implements, I updated my list every few months from the age of 13 until… well, right around the time that I wrote that post about standards and started thinking that maybe I was being a bit too shallow.

But a lot can happen between 13 and 26, which might explain why my lists were always reactionary and never based on any real logic.  If I’d just broken up with a man who didn’t care about religion, I’d aim for someone who was more “spiritually grounded” the next time around, only to realize that fundamentalist Christians weren’t really my “type” either.

I treated education, personal hygiene and financial stability (or lack thereof) the same way, hence November of 2010 (when I spent a month bouncing back and forth between Date #17, the workaholic from Northern Liberties, and The Man from Marshalls, who worked in defense contracting but thought he wanted to be a writer) and my double header a few months later (when I met an unemployed, couch surfing “relationship coach” for coffee and a Naval officer for a stroll through the zoo).

Can we say schizophrenic?

If my relationships were a clock, I’d be the pendulum, swinging back and forth from one extreme to the other with no hope of achieving equilibrium.

Over the years, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never find a straight, tall, tap-dancing anthropologist who shares my love of all things Baroque, the outdoors and quasi-intellectual pursuits, but I’ve continued to fall—against my better judgment— for men who look better on paper than they do in real life.

Several months ago, when I was still very much enamored of one such bachelor, I joined my friend Date #6 for drinks at a bar in Headhouse.

“You need a list,” he said.  “Then you won’t keep falling for these guys who aren’t any good for you.”

“I have a list!” I replied.  “I’ve had a list since I was 13!”

“Then maybe,” he suggested, “it’s time for an update.”

Jess Killmenow made a similar suggestion this past fall, but I was still going through my anti-list phase.  My I’m-going-to-stop-being-so-judgmental-and-be-open-to-the-universe-instead phase.

It occurs to me now, however, that there’s a difference between being open to the universe and choosing to ignore everything the universe has tried to teach you in the years since you realized that boys (or rather men) are good for more than cootie shots and tree houses of the NBA (No Boys Allowed) variety.

After all, we make lists for a reason.  We make lists so we can organize our thoughts.  We make lists so we don’t forget what we already know (and what we already know we know) and although most of my lists consist of “brilliant” thoughts scribbled upon bank statements that never seem quite as brilliant the next morning, lists can be a good thing.

And it’s high time I updated mine.

Thoughts?  Obviously taller-than-me-in-heels goes without saying, but I’ll be tempted to list only those qualities which The Wedding Date already possesses if left to my own devices so your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

PS: Check out my friend Catherine’s blog, Simply Solo, for a chance to win some cool stuff, including a pair of Manolo Blahniks, an iPad2 or a wine party for 20!

12 Responses to “Standards Revisted (Because Sometimes Lists Can Be a Good Thing)”

  1. Zak

    I took this class – Seven Habits of Highly Efficient People – and one of my favorite take-aways was that Ben Franklin had a list of personal goals he wanted to strive for. A friend suggested an item to him, and it seemed reasonable, but as he neared the end of life, realized the only goal he hadn’t really acheieved – or even tried to -was the one he didn’t personally add.

    For me, I ask myself what makes me happy? What makes you happy? Great, you like taller guys. Do you like a sense of humor? What type? Do you like dark or light hair? What type? Now, ask yourself if you can toss any of those out if they guy you meet doesn’t meet them.

    I’m not saying having a “type” or an ideal is a bad thing. I’m saying, what really matters, those two or three little things, and what doesn’t.

    Mine? Non-smoker. Not too-religious. Emotionally stable (“crazy” is okay, crazy is not). Enjoys similar, but not all the same, activities as me. Able to have her own life – employed, living arrangements, etc – but wanting to share life with me. I think that’s it.

    Reply
  2. Susan

    I agree with the last two comments, but one test I have is just comfort level and laughter. i worried about#7 because he made you cry! crying is not a good thing in a relationship. clarity, honesty, comfort, even comfortable silence, laughter and reciprocity of feelings (guys can’t always express them, but can show them), even height doesn’t matter in the long run. sounds like the Wedding Date is worth exploring.

    Reply
  3. Lyon hostess

    I remember the NBA club!! I loved that one. It’s true we were both 12 at that stage though 😉

    How about just listing a list of definite ‘nos’ that you need to keep away from? That way you know to keep away from the psychodrama ‘artists’ who shall remain numberless.

    Reply
  4. The Wookie

    You can make a list or just let life happen. Sometimes we miss great opportunities while we are looking down and checking off the boxes on our lists.
    Case in point: My “perfect women” list was once a conservative, over 5’10”, redheaded, Irish Catholic. My wife is a liberal, 5’4″ Polish, blonde atheist but I love her, we are happy, and we have been together for a long time.
    If you must make lists instead of the attributes you are looking for how about two lists: 1.) what you want to get from “date # last” and 2) what you are willing give. Do worry about if the guy is tall or spiritual or whatever worry about how he makes you feel. You can be just as happy on the road driving a sports car or an SUV it’s the journey that is important. Things like handsome, talented, and rich fall away when you are happy, comfortable, and loved.
    Just my two cents!

    Reply
  5. Jess Killmenow

    In my daily avid, rapid (but not rabid) reading of your adventures I notice that you like men who communicate well and often (within reason), and you love men who are intriguing, fun, adventurous, considerate, intelligent and complex, and who possess a sense of humor.

    To know exactly what you want is powerful. Concentrating on what you want can bring it to you, or it can transform something you have that is almost what you want into something closer to your truest desire. A list can be helpful in staying focused on what you truly desire.

    Reply
  6. Chicago-Style Girl

    Think about how you want him to compatible to you in his qualities, not just the qualities. That means a more detalied list.
    For example, my list says I want a man who believes in God and is religious, but who respects my beliefs about God and religion, and also isn’t some zealot or blind believer. That’s super detailed, but it’s helped me avoid some guys who were too far one way or the other over the years.

    Reply
  7. Lost in France

    Save your lists for the shopping and chores to do.
    Seems like WD is falling right in the middle of your Venn Diagram. That of course could me he is Handsome, Talented and Rich or a Poor, Old Liar.

    Or rather that he is just right for you, And therefore needs not be listed or categorised.

    Reply

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