When you visualize your ideal man – the romantic prize after enduring all of those boring to horrible dates – what do you see? Are the details clear? Can you picture the way he talks, a lock of dark hair falling above his right eye, or his muscular arms?
If you've been dating a while, chances are that over time, you've come up with a pretty good idea of what your ideal man is like, based on the traits of different men you've encountered who you find attractive. There are probably also a few habits or features you want to avoid – like someone who smokes, has too much chest hair, or is shorter than you'd like. Maybe you write everything down as a sort of visualization practice. You know what you want, so why not create a comprehensive list of everything that is important to you, down to the color of his eyes?
I had an ideal man wish list. It seemed like a great idea at the time, especially because I was reading The Secret, which assured me I could make things happen for myself as long as I had a clear picture of exactly what I wanted. Fate needed my help.
So after each date, I'd add a few more items to my wish list, hoping it would magically create the perfect guy for me. Over time, the list grew to four pages, front and back. I started to feel a bit uneasy with all the detail. On each date, I’d look for pluses and minuses according to my list. Does he seem funny enough? Does he like Thai food? Would he be able to keep up with me on a hike?
I wanted each man I met to check off boxes on my list. Pretty soon, my list became more real to me than the men I was dating. I met guy after guy, and nobody seemed right. They all had some kind of baggage or habit or physical trait that didn't align with what I wanted.
The problem with dating this way is that I made myself crazy. I felt that if I made my list specific enough, I could order up a man to my liking. And if I had enough patience I could meet the perfect guy. But truthfully, I was getting in my own way.
Relationships can't be made to order. We all have our own wants, needs, desires – and also our own hang-ups! We all come with baggage that we've accumulated in our personal romantic journeys. Each of us has our own unique perspective of the world, which shapes how we think about dating and more importantly, our relationships.
I talk about the ideal man wish list in my new book Date Expectations. Wish lists can be toxic to the dating process. We get hung up on all kinds of unimportant things, like how tall a man is, or whether he is educated enough, or even his hair color. This prevents us from getting to know him, from seeing what kind of person he is underneath – if he's caring, respectful, kind, trustworthy. We lose track of what we want in a relationship because we're too focused on checking off boxes on our wish lists. Maybe he has a great smile, is extremely intelligent, or likes to ride bikes with you, but does that make him a great boyfriend?
It's good to have standards and preferences. But it's also good to allow your heart to be open, to listen to your gut, and to follow your instincts. Often, we find the best relationships with people who aren't our “type,” or who surprise us, or who we get to know better over time and like more and more with each date. You never know where things might lead, so it pays to give a man a chance, even if he doesn't check off all those boxes.
About the Author:
Kelly Seal is an award-winning blogger, former speed dating host, and author of the new book Date Expectations: A Guide to Changing Your Dating Life and Finding Real Love, available on Amazon and iTunes.