I like to have my clients make a list of the 50 qualities they want in a future husband or life partner. From there, they identify which qualities are "non-negotiable", or the qualities they absolutely must have in a man. This exercise helps them get the deal-breakers on paper, to refer to and use on their search for Mr. Right.
This list isn't a new idea — but it's one that works. A counselor asked me to make a similar list 20 years ago when I was single and looking for love. There's a reason she asked me to do this, but it wasn't why I thought. As it turned out, what I wrote on my list revealed more about me than it did the man I thought I wanted.
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How so? Writing down the 50 qualities you want in a man is heady stuff. It starts you daydreaming about how good it will feel when you meet your ideal partner. You start imagining the wonderful life you'll share as a couple. He suddenly begins to feel real.
But there's a catch. And what was true for me then could be true for you now: This man is off your radar. You wouldn't recognize him if you bumped into him. You might work with him or he could live next door, it doesn't matter; he'd be a blur to you. Why? Because when it comes to choosing men, we tend to choose what's familiar, what we know. It's like we have blinders on.
So, unless you've cultivated the qualities you're looking for in a man in yourself, you won't be able to recognize a man who has them. He'll walk right by you and you won't even see him.
Let me give you an example of why this happens. I'll use a non-negotiable quality most women put on their list: honesty. Naturally, you want a man who's honest, a man who's going to tell you the truth about himself and his feelings. Yet, how many times have we not spoken up to tell a man when something isn't working for us? How many of us have avoided asking a man about the future of a relationship? Or been too scared to ask him about his intentions before giving our hearts away? How many of us have put up with bad behavior hoping it would change without us having to say anything? If we haven't developed this level of honesty ourselves, we'll attract a man at our level. We won't recognize when he's being less than truthful because we are so used to being that way ourselves. We need to cultivate honesty in ourselves before we can require it of our man.
Another non-negotiable quality women put on their list is: emotionally available. We want a man who can share what he's feeling and be vulnerable enough to open his heart to us. But it's not easy being vulnerable if we've been hurt. Many of us act like the walking wounded and find ourselves on the defensive in love. We protect our hearts by being overly cautious, and brace ourselves for the hurt we think is coming. We don't express our fears and insecurities, and we hide behind a wall of phony confidence. We hide our emotions and don't let a man in.
Once again, if we don't take some risks by being emotionally available, we'll attract a man at our level. If we are protecting our feelings, we'll pick a man who's doing the same.
Sometimes, we have too much of the qualities we want. For example, we write on our list that he must be attentive to our needs. We want a man who's considerate of our feelings and desires. But many of us, myself included, can be overly concerned about what we believe a man needs — and end up over-delivering at our own expense. Being the nurturers we are, we can give a man much more than he is giving us, and end up single and alone.
We can use our list of non-negotiables to change ourselves for the better. Any of the qualities you identify for yourself, even the three I've mentioned here, can be cultivated without a man in your life. Practice them with your family, your friends, and even at work. The more you improve on the non-negotiable qualities you lack or overdo, the better a woman you'll be... and the better man you'll choose.
Now, the next time you find yourself bumping into Mr. Right you'll recognize him — and be prepared to give him a big, beautiful smile.
If you want to know more about how creating your list will help you identify your Mr. Right, contact me through my website: http://www.itsnevertoolatetomarry.com
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