Instead of ordering up a partner like we do a latte, base your choice on how they make you feel.
I was attempting to write at my favorite coffee shop when I couldn't help but eavesdrop on two women huddled and giggling over a computer screen next to me. They were poring over some online profiles of men that one had been flirting with. "This one's very funny, but he's too short,” she described, clicking on the next one. "This guy is so hot—isn't he cute?!” she asked. "But he's a writer, which means he has no money.” Click, click. “This guy is a lawyer. Seems interesting—but he's bald."
I winced. I recognized these comments. I may have even at one point, uttered them verbatim.
Listening to these women mirror their modern mate-selection process back to me made me realize how dismissive and petty we have become in our search for love. The desire to connect with another human has been reduced to a consumeristic process in which we pursue a collection of attributes and try to order up our partners like we would a pizza or a coffee. In today's world, everyone can have whatever they want, "just their way," with 1 and 1/2 shots, 2% milk and whatever flavoring they need to feel satisfied.
But dear reader, dear single person, people cannot be assembled like "Build a Bear.” They cannot be ordered up to perfection. People are not packages. And if you are sizing up other humans as package deals, then you are probably packaging yourself, and that can be very painful. When we examine our single selves as package deals, we are either awash in grandiosity (behold my perfect mind and yoga body!) or we tend to harp on the liabilities: “But I have kids," “I'm too old," “My thighs are too big," "I have scrawny arms,” “I have a prosthetic limb.” Whatever. We then size up and discount our potential mates in return.
We are not simply a list of features. We are so much more.
What I recommend to all those out there looking for love is that you fold up your "perfect mate list" and tuck it somewhere. I’m not asking you to throw it away. I know that many of you might be upset by this request as you have worked hard at creating that list and you deserve to have everything that you want. But even if you find someone who fits the bill—someone who is attractive, financially solvent, sexy and funny, with a nice car and a decent mother to boot, it doesn’t mean you will feel a connection with them.
Instead of focusing on the individual attributes of a person, I encourage singles to focus on how they want to feel and the roles they want to embody. How do you want to feel when you are with The One? One woman in a recent workshop revealed that her new boyfriend brought out in her the role of "beautiful mysterious goddess." That sounds divine. What woman wouldn't want to feel powerful and sought after like that? Or this: A man I know said that his long-term partner is still the only one that brings out his inner "John Stewart" — a part of him that voices his unique and slanted take on all their experiences, resulting in fits of laughter between them. If these best parts of you (and more) get activated in a relationship, does it matter if your significant other’s belly is larger than average? Does it matter if he is bald, or she is a different race or religion than you? Does it matter if she or he has a teacher's salary instead of a doctor's?
Lists aside, if you have been doing something repeatedly in love that doesn't work, stop. If you have been serially dating no-income generating artists with a penchant for mind-altering substances and you are sick of it, by all means, choose someone different. I'm not saying don't have standards or guidelines. And I am certainly in favor of knowing and upholding your values. But breaking patterns and having standards is different than trying to date a list.
People are not lattes. Don't order one. Broadcast how you want to feel, and let yourself be found.
And remember, love yourself no matter what.
This article was originally published at http://blairglaser.com/blog/. Reprinted with permission from the author.