Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Importance of The List

Walking through the door after my first post-marriage date, I felt a sense of excitement….of exhilaration….of “Holy Cow…what do I do now???” I had all kinds of questions (mostly about whether or not it was a date or just “hanging out”) and ju-ju-bees inside me….so I did what all women do, I called my best girlfriend, G, and shared my excitement….dissected every move….every word….every nuance (it’s what we women do)….

In sharing my thoughts on how much I liked him, G gently reminded me to keep my head in the game and suggested that I make a list. Being a lover of lists of all kind…..I thought this would be a fun diversion…..little did I know how much it would shape my philosophy of dating. G told me to list qualities-attributes I felt I needed in a potential life partner. Wow…that was thinking far ahead!! Honestly, I just wanted to go out and have a bit of fun and feel beautiful. Her words mulled through my brain for the next few hours…..questions of, “What do I need?” “What is important to me?” “ What type of man would I both respect and stay engaged with?” At 3am on December 11, 2007, I wrote my list in my journal. The List included things such as Close to Family, Likes to Dance, Passionate about God, Has Close Friends, etc.

The List has been an important conversation topic between my single girlfriends and myself. I have encouraged them to make their own lists….to really figure out what is important to them. It’s like networking - Who do you want to meet? Who is a good client for you? Narrow it down.

My suggestions for The List:

Positive attributes only - you can’t prove a negative…. ie: “doesn’t stay out late with his friends every night” isn’t a good list item (maybe he goes out every other night or every weekend or just simply doesn’t include you in his activities and you still have the “problem” that you are trying to avoid)- rather, look at the positive attribute you are wanting.

Keep the list somewhat short - the list does actually need to narrow down the field, however, for the list to be useful it can’t narrow down every single male in America.

Only put the important/necessary qualities on your list - not how tall, what kind of job, how many siblings, etc. It’s not a “wish list” but rather a target list. Although it may seem trivial to others, not dancing is actually a “deal breaker” for me…..it’s one of my favorite things to do and I spent many years with someone who would not dance….. therefore, it is on my list.

Make your list personal - who cares if everyone else in the world thinks a certain attribute is important……this is YOUR list and no one else has to see it. You are unique and your list should be as well.

Go back and re-read The List from time to time when you are dating someone. Trust me...one does forget. I honestly thought The Man would have a few of the attributes I so carefully thought out. However, when I re-looked at The List, he had almost all of them nailed down (yay!).

So…..what happens when you meet someone amazing, but they aren’t a fit? For me, when I find someone I have “chemistry” but doesn’t jive with my list, I put them in “The Friend Box.” There are many people I like hanging out with…but I don’t have to date them. If I really like them and they aren’t a “dating candidate,” I don’t simply move on and forget they ever existed……I invite them into my life as a friend and enjoy their company. If you look at it in networking terms, you are building an annuity stream of possibilities by building relationships rather than trying to “sell” yourself to everyone you meet. This is how I met The Man….through a great guy I have become friends with over the last year.

The question looms, “why date someone who is not a match for me?” Divorce is very lonely - being single is very lonely. There are times when I just wanted to feel special no matter who the person is…. Eventually, though, I realize this is not a healthy way to go about things - it is actually a recipe for disaster.

I was at a networking event at the end of a very long, tiring day. A glass of wine was definitely in my future! As I walked by the appetizer station, I saw the fried ravioli and made a bee line. Normally, this would be a total “yuk” for me…they weren’t really warm….nor were they particularly appetizing…but there I was piling my plate full. I was tired….hungry…..and stressed. I found myself eating every single one of the cardboard-tasting, cold, fried ravioli squares. I was momentarily comforted - - it met an immediate emotional need. Later, I felt terrible….not just because I ate something not on my diet “list”…but I felt sluggish from all the carbs…and knew that this was not a healthy choice.

Dating is like that - we make unhealthy choices to date people who are not a match for us simply because we want to feel special…..wanted….loved….beautiful….. We are tired from all of the dating…the rejection…the dashed hopes and just want to find someone….anyone. In the end, we are hurting ourselves by setting ourselves up for failure….and even by missing a golden opportunity because we are “with someone” and are no longer looking.

Is The List the “end all-be all” - - no way!! They are guidelines in the true Captain Jack Sparrow sense of the word. But The List can be an important tool to remind ourselves that we hold our opportunity for happiness in our hands….we can exchange our long-term happiness for short term comfort…..or we can invest in non-dating relationships and in those people who will be a true match. The choice is ours.

8 comments:

CountofMonteCristo said...
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CountofMonteCristo said...
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CountofMonteCristo said...
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CountofMonteCristo said...

I'm not sure if I agree with your friend saying you needed to make any kind of "list".

You should've just listened to your own instincts i.e. "Wow…that was thinking far ahead!!" and "I just wanted to go out and have a bit of fun and feel beautiful."

I mean, aren't you recently divorced? I think you should take some time for yourself instead of jumping head first into the overrated world of dating.

This part right here makes me cringe:

"So…..what happens when you meet someone amazing, but they aren’t a fit? For me, when I find someone I have “chemistry” but doesn’t jive with my list, I put them in “The Friend Box.”.............................................................
Trust me when I tell you that no guy wants to be in your "friend box" when he was just told by you that you aren't interested in pursuing anything romantic. He may say he does to be nice, but he really doesn't; especially if he's really attracted to you. More attracted = more disappointed when he finds out he's not dating material.


"There are times when I just wanted to feel special no matter who the person is…. Eventually, though, I realize this is not a healthy way to go about things - it is actually a recipe for disaster.".....................................................................
You're damn right it's a recipe for disaster! Talk about quality time under false pretenses. No man wants to be your shoulder to cry on when it's not genuine.

Overall, I think a lot of women are single because they spend too much time making lists of what they want in a man and not enough time actually doing the things that need to be done to meet a man of quality. Generally speaking, I think a lot of single/divorced women are just too picky, and that leads them into a life of loneliness. I've seen it with my own eyes. I don't fault women for this, but I think it leads to letting a lot of good men slip through the cracks. Sometimes, the women don't recognize the fact that they have a good man in front of them and maybe don't allot enough time for the potential relationship to grow and then, poof, it's gone.

I guess what I'm trying to say with all of this is: give yourself more time to do the things you need for yourself and how you can make yourself grow and also not overthink how you can go about finding the right guy for you. Because, Becky, the "right guy" for you, or anyone else doesn't exist. He may be "right" for the first six months and then the shit hits the fan and then you're back at square one questioning the entire relationship, etc. Life is risk. Pursuing love is a risk. You were married, it ended in divorce. Was it worth the risk? I'm guessing, yes, it was. The key to any relationship is communication. If you don't have communication, there is no foundation. And, even with communication, things can go awry, because, afterall, we are human. And, sometimes, all good things come to an end in one form or another.

I would be more than happy to discuss this at further length with you. Maybe we can dissect the male psyche and what his thoughts are on the dating world, etc.

Sincerely, Michael Rousseau, Smaller Indiana contributor and instigator:)

Becky P said...
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Becky P said...

You raised some pretty good points in your comments and I think for the most part, they are right on the money. We DO need to spend time working on ourselves instead of jumping into the next relationship simply because someone is "there."

To me, that is where the List comes in....... it was my way of doing some soul searching to see what it is that I really wanted - what I wanted my LIFE to look like (and not just the man in my life). For example, I am 40 years old. My children are 20 and 18 and I can no longer physically have children. It would be a mistake to get into a serious relationship with someone who wants to start a family.

I agree with you that women are too picky......but honestly, I think they are too picky about the WRONG things. We get into the physical appearance trap just like guys. We can be "wow"ed by a successful man and end up overlooking a sweet gentle soul who would totally rock our world (even for a time being) or someone who would just be a lot of fun.

The point in my list was to give myself a "check" so I don't just roll with straight feelings....I have a lot of friends who say, Becky, if it feels good...it is good. Well, honestly, that last margarita at 3am sure does feel good at the moment....but the next day....hmmmm...maybe not.

As women, we tend to skew towards the emotional (I know - shocker)....by the third date, we are thinking of the next 5 years and what they hypothetically would look like. Each date after that simply adds to our little script of what we think things are going to look like - the plan - the "where is this relationship going" idea. Many times as women, we can be with a guy who is just WRONG for us, but we still hold on because we had plans for the lake in the summer, or for a fall picnic, or the Christmas present we were going to give to them. We hold on to a lifestyle and then have a hard time giving up the man who represents that lifestyle to us. Trust me on this one....

My list is not the end all, be all....it is fluid. It is more of a "guideline" in the Captain Jack Barrow sense.... The Man and the guy I dated before that both are amazing men who do not necessarily have all of the items on the list....but they do have most. For example, The Man really doesn't like to get dressed up...eeek....that is HUGE for me...HUGE...I love a man in a suit...I love to go out to nice places and get dressed up. I just about hyperventilated....but on closer look at the spirit of that qualification, I want someone who will go out with me to fun and romantic places and look pulled together (ie: no ballcaps and soccer shorts to dinner)...does The Man meet that.....heck yeah.

This leads to my last comment back - let's look at two ends of the spectrum.....a woman who dates a man and then expects the man to change into the kind of guy she needs/wants/desires vs. a woman who knows what she wants out of life and dates men who would fit into her life pretty easily.

Does being picky leave you with some lonely nights...yeah....but honestly, I have seen a lot of lonely women in relationships with the wrong man.....

Becky Pruitt
Smaller Indiana Sandbox Princess Pollyanna

CountofMonteCristo said...

I'm lucky, I have no soul so there is no need to do any searching:) That's cool if the list is helping you in other areas. I didn't mean to sound so opposed to it, I just wanted to engage you into some meaningful conversation regarding all of this.

You don't look 40, btw:) No, getting involved with someone who wants a family probably wouldn't be the best of ideas, and that unfortunately eliminates a lot of potential suitors. Yes, I think women tend to be too picky about the wrong things. Here are my theories on why some women think the way they do in regard to all things relationships/dating/men:

-- Women get too much of their info from magazines, self-help/dating books, and bad advice from girlfriends.

Let me cite a personal example from my own experience -- I was working at the YMCA years ago and one night I was talking to this young lady who I had only had very brief conversations with in the past. We begin talking about dating and such, and she asks me if I'm a "dater". I say, "well, I actually haven't been on any dates lately". To which she responds (laughing no less), "No, what I mean is, if you open up your refrigerator, pull out the milk, and it has expired, would you still drink it if it didn't smell bad?" I said, "sure, of course". --apparently, that was the wrong answer-- So, she begins her diatribe as to why this somehow makes me an ineligible bachelor (I'm not even kidding). I don't really recall anything she said because I was basically in shock. She got this hairbrained idea from a book, or women's magazine; can't remember which. This pretty much sealed the deal in terms of me ever asking her out. LOL It was kinda scary how much she believed it too. Like, she had no thoughts of her own on dating or whatever. It was almost as if everything she learned was from some column in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Now, I'm not naive enough to believe that ALL women are duped into not thinking for themselves when it comes to understanding men better, but, isn't ONE woman one too many? LOL

Yes, the gentle souls seem to get overlooked it seems...on both sides of the fence. I'm a gentle soul (shocking, I know), and it sure hasn't paid any dividends in a long time. I feel I've always had a good rapport with women but that sure isn't evidenced by my lackluster dating life. But I digress.. If you have a lot of friends who say, "if it feels good...it is good", well, this isn't the 70's, ladies. LOL Are your friends ex-hippies by chance? --kidding--


As women, we tend to skew towards the emotional (I know - shocker)....by the third date, we are thinking of the next 5 years and what they hypothetically would look like. Each date after that simply adds to our little script of what we think things are going to look like - the plan - the "where is this relationship going" idea. Many times as women, we can be with a guy who is just WRONG for us, but we still hold on because we had plans for the lake in the summer, or for a fall picnic, or the Christmas present we were going to give to them. We hold on to a lifestyle and then have a hard time giving up the man who represents that lifestyle to us. Trust me on this one............................................................

Very well said ^^^^^^^^^ Well, you certainly don't seem to be in the dark about anything as far as I can see. You seem very level-headed.

Be honest, you've got the hots for Captain Jack Sparrow? LOL Come on, so the guy doesn't like to get dressed up, is that really a deal breaker? I'm sure he would get dressed up for an event if you wanted him to. You gave up too easily!!! That is the kind of stuff that drives me crazy about women I guess. I can't comprehend not considering a woman who didn't like to get dressed up. Logically, it doesn't make any sense to me because that guy could be the peas to your carrots yet because he isn't rockin' a Brooks Brothers suit he gets put into the "Friends Box". LOL

And, while were on the subject, what's with women's fascination with shoes? I seriously don't get it. And, why do some women judge men on the shoes they wear? Does it really matter that I buy my dress shoes at DSW instead of special ordering from John Lobb (famous mens shoe designer, btw)?

If a woman is sizing me up by the type of shoes I'm wearing (or not wearing), she has issues. Sorry, that's just where I come off on that:)


So, we're moving right along, eh? Maybe we should switch it over to the less civilized of the two genders....the MEN:) This could get ugly, and lengthy.

Ciao, Michael

Becky P said...

Hmmmm...yes...the men....that is a total blog in and of itself... :)

First off, though....I do have to put in a plug - invest in some nice shoes......DSW rocks in my book - I would be practically barefoot without them.....but nothing looks nicer than a well kept somewhat fashionable pair of shoes. But then again, I have this thing for shoes....

You are correct in your assesment of Captain Jack Sparrow - he is definitely charming in that crazy, rescue-me kind of way....

I honestly think that men have the same hang-ups that women have. Growing up in the south, the culture was a bit different, though. Southern men seem to have a more "forward" appreciation of women that I think midwestern men could learn from. For goodness sake, buy the girl across the room a drink! You aren't asking her to marry you - you aren't even asking her to go out with you - you are simply buying a drink and spending a few moments in conversation.

Secondly, if men like a woman....THEY SHOULD ASK HER OUT ON A DATE....a REAL date....not to their house, hotel room, or the nearest make-out corner. I can't tell you how many times a man has SEEMED very interested in me but never asked me out. It is completely crazy!!!! I can count on two hands the number of times I have been asked out since my divorce (of course, maybe it's because I give off that friend box vibe).

Lastly..... as a man, if you take a girl's number.....CALL HER. Call her within a day or two.....if you have no intention of calling, then under NO circumstances are you EVER allowed to ask for a number. That is crazy!!! It's my number 1 frustration!!!!

Oh, and by the way....you are much better off without the milk girl...she would have driven you crazy!!!