As I have mentioned before, I am single. It is questionable, I guess, whether I am available, but I'm okay with that. And frankly, I think whether or not I am available is dependent on what you're interested in.
Which is indirectly the subject of this post.
Let's face it. Whether we'll admit it or not, whether we're even conscious of it or not, and perhaps regardless of whether we're currently involved with someone or not, we have a list. A list of attributes, qualities, features, things we desire in a partner - whether for play or something more serious.
Some of us may include external attributes in our list - appearances: physique, clothes, boots, jewelry, watches, tattoos, makeup, hair color and / or style, maybe even the car one drives. Essentially, things that can be observed before you even say "Hello". Some might dismiss these attributes as superficial or unimportant, but for those who acknowledge them, they can argue - probably quite well - that there is a lot you can tell about a person from these external attributes. How important their health is to them, their attention to detail, their concern (or lack thereof) of material things, whether they may belong or try to belong to a certain group or niche, including, potentially their marital status, or their education. Some people can tell a lot about you by looking at your hands and figure out what kind of work you might do. So while it might be easy to dismiss these physical attributes, they are not insignificant in giving us information about the person underneath it all.
Some of us may have certain unmeasurabe intangibles on our list. Must have a good heart, good sense of humor, good character, strength, vulnerability, intelligence (although in theory that's measurable, I guess), experienced, good soul, honest, kind-hearted, faithful, loyal, dependable. All of these are great words, and important traits potentially for mates, but they're kind of hard to measure or determine. Particularly from a distance, but sometimes, even up close.
Some of us may look for certain behavioral attributes. Frankly, I want someone who can cook. Someone to be active with, someone who does the laundry, someone who pays the bills, someone who has a job, someone who plays with their kids, someone who spends time with their parents, someone who's a workaholic, someone who surfs, someone who snuggles, someone who can give a good massage, someone who is articulate, someone who shaves (oh, wait, maybe that's in the first category), someone who gets out of the house, someone who is a homebody or a couch potato (or both), someone who plays a musical instrument, someone who goes to church, someone who makes romantic gestures such as flowers or spontaneous picnics, someone who is affectionate. These are things we can observe.
And then, lastly, there are always the experiential factors that may fit in any of the above categories. These are the factors that circle around like baggage at the airport terminal, because, frankly, that's what they are, at some level, left over baggage or scars from previous relationships. Things that someone else DIDN'T have that we really hope the next person will have. Or maybe, if we've been lucky in love, some features that a former partner did have or share. Sex on a regular basis, (Well, let's face it by the time most of our relationships die, this is one thing that has been often dead for a while before it), someone who likes to dance, someone who communicates well, someone who makes birthdays special, someone who likes to sleep in or at least is capable of sleeping in, someone who isn't afraid of hitting the sheets in the afternoon (oh, wait, there's a theme growing, isn't there? I'm not saying this is MY list, necessarily.. .Eek!), someone who knows how to relax and also knows how to get things done.
We may joke about relationship sites where you try to write a profile that describes you or what you're looking for in a mate, but the reality is that we all have a list. Even if we don't admit to it. Even to ourselves.
What I think is useful - but hey, see above, I'm single - is refining that list. Clarifying the things you want versus the things you need, and trying to be honest with yourself and flexible with your potential partners. And to be realistic, too.
Ideally, for example, I want someone I'll never fight with. I fought enough with the ex, clearly had an over-sensitive reaction last month to the bickering of my friends (See, Bickering) and really feel like the late Rodney King (oh, didn't you hear? he died last month..) "Can't we all just get along?"
But the reality is that I won't find someone who won't fight or bicker. And if I do, there's probably going to be some other serious relationship issues instead, and I don't even want to think what those might be. Realistically what I want is two things: I want someone who will fight fair, and along with that or part of that, someone who is willing to resolve a situation after a fight, and not simply bury it or run away. It doesn't have to be 100% of the time. But I'll admit, I have some pretty huge scars from my long-term ex from our fights. In hindsight, I understand it was her mental illness that was often the underlying issue, but that doesn't help me then and not that much now. We'd have a fight - seemingly out of nowhere, and like the Seinfeld show, often about nothing. I *always* had to be the adult and de-escalate the fight once it started, which I really hated, by the way. But even when I tried to approach the ex about it afterwards - "Hey, can we talk about the other night?" - she'd just as often as not respond to me, "What, do you want to fight again?" To which my short answer was "No." and my longer, often only internal answer was "No, which is why I'd like to talk about what happened before so we can try to keep it from happening again, or find better ways to respond to each other if it does arise."
So on my MUST HAVE list, frankly, is someone who will fight fair a good portion of the time.
On my "Gosh I want" list is someone who will cook. It's the "gees, wouldn't it be nice" and maybe it's the fluff you put on match.com or chemistry.com (I can't say e-Harmony, because they wouldn't take me as a client since they're homophobic.. oops!) but it isn't the end all and be-all.
I think, in order to have a healthy relationship moving forward, when I do, it is helpful to be clear about my list - to be clear what the basic requirements are for me, and what are the "gees, wouldn't it be nice" bonuses are so that I can set reasonable expectations for myself, for my partner, and for our future relationship.
What is on your list?