Relationships are hard and dating is even harder when you’re in your 40’s.
When my husband and I separated in 2012, we knew we were headed for divorce. And by the time my divorce was final in 2015, I was already in love with the man who had my heart; however, imagining myself in a fully committed relationship for the long haul was difficult for me to even think about. I loved him, yes; but I didn’t have any intention of setting up house with him. At least, not back then.
Don’t get me wrong: I was committed to that man, but I didn’t have any desire to ever be married again. After 19 years of marriage, I wanted to embrace my singledom and figure out who I was outside of being somebody’s wife. And to be completely candid with you, I really didn’t see myself being in another committed relationship like that for a long, long time.
But now that it’s been 6 years since my former husband and I parted ways, I’ve started to think about the fact that single is great, but it’s also lonely. I’ve finally arrived at the point of being ready to grow old with somebody, and that has led me to dig out my old journal to find the list that Sybil had me make way back when which entails the qualities that my next partner must have in order for me to comfortable enough to commit to him (values…they matter…).
What are my non-negotiables? They look something like this:
- has to be single and unattached
- must be emotionally available
- confident in the bedroom, but mutually agreeable
- brings me flowers for no reason, even if he just picks them from the yard
- has a good sense of humor
- doesn’t require attention from other women in order to make himself feel desirable
- if he has children, he has to be a good father
- he must have integrity and be honest at all times
- has empathy for others
- likes the outdoors
- manages money well and is a good provider
- respects my need for personal space
- can have an intelligent, meaningful conversation
- has a family that I fit into and that he likes to do things with
- knows my dog is my baby and is absolutely okay with that
- celebrates important things like birthdays and anniversaries without having to be reminded
- has no addictions (porn, drugs, alcohol, gambling, women)
- knows how to cook and doesn’t mind to do it occasionally
- lets me be the girl in the relationship
- knows what my favorite coffee is at Starbucks (Mr. Hottie set the bar high on that one, just sayin’)
- likes his mother, but isn’t a mama’s boy
- is open-minded–narrow-mindedness has no place in my world
- wants to be faithful and stays that way, no matter what situation he’s in
- non-smoker/non-tobacco user
- allows me to be who I am without passing judgment or trying to change me
- is a really good communicator
- protects my heart at all times
- doesn’t tuck his tail and run when issues arise in the relationship–there’s gonna be issues–be willing to work it out
- is not demeaning when he’s angry–no fingerpointing is necessary
- knows how to apologize and does it readily without being haughty whether he thinks he’s wrong or not
- takes responsibility for those apologies if he’s in the wrong
- be consistent, be consistent, be consistent…did I mention consistent??
There are other things on that list in my journal, but they don’t matter as much anymore, so I didn’t mention them.
But there’s one thing that nags at me when I think about having a future with someone else and that’s the question of whether or not I can really have it all with one person…
The man who had my heart knew about my list and we talked about it in depth one evening.
He told me that one person could never fulfill everything I had listed. In fact, he said I needed three people to do that: one to take care me in the bedroom, one to take care of me financially, and another to fulfill me emotionally. As you can imagine, I wasn’t only appalled, I was super pissed off. Because in my world, the fairytale is always possible and the thought of it not being so shattered the dream that all of us women have bought into from little-girl-hood on.
As time has gone by, I’ve started to question whether or not he was right about that.
Never in a million years did I think that would ever happen, but as I start to settle into the idea of being ready to commit to someone else, I really wonder if one person can truly fulfill every need for another.
I’ve met men who have some but not all of the qualities. And the ones they didn’t have are the ones that really matter, like being able to be faithful or the ability to apologize when they’re wrong.
I’ve met men who didn’t have any of the attributes I’m looking for, and I moved on quickly without them. I mean, why beat a dead horse?
But can I honestly say that I am agreeable to having an open relationship with more than one person in order to have my list fulfilled?
Absolutely not. I mean, can you imagine having to keep up with more than one Y-Chromosome?! Lawsy mercy! Listen, all jokes aside, I’m in it to win it–none of that ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ bullshit. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt, not interested in doing it again. Like, ever.
To me, most of my list is rather basic and one that I feel every relationship should ideally have as its foundation.
To others, it may seem trivial. I don’t think it’s a bad idea in this day and age to know what you’re looking for–I mean, have you seen what’s out there?! Not only that, I think it’s important not to settle for someone who isn’t a relatively good fit. That square-peg-round-hole-thing? It exists, and it’s not a workable situation, even when we really want it to be.
Does that mean my ideal man isn’t fallible? Absolutely not.
All of us are human and tend to make mistakes. I make them every day! And although I know I have a whole lot to offer another person, I also know that I’m not perfect and that I’m often wrong. Like I’m wrong a lot and I’m woman enough to own up to it! Listen, good relationships don’t just happen–they take WORK. Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. And in my experience, anything that comes easy isn’t usually worth having!
What I want is simple, really. I want a man who respects me. One who always has my back, treats me well, and continues to woo me even after he has me. Why should we stop dating each other just because we are committed? We shouldn’t. At least not in my world. Relationships are what we make them. It should never be thought of as 50/50; instead, it should be 100/100.
I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I refuse to settle because settling is a great big recipe for a huge, natural disaster.
I’m tired of being disappointed and I’m beyond overlooking a man’s qualities that don’t quite ‘fit’ in hopes that I can someday learn to live with them. I want to fall in love with a man for who he is, not for who has the potential to be. And dangit, I want it all with one person, whether it’s the fairytale or not because I deserve to be with a man who is decent, thoughtful, honorable, kind, and respectful. Not only that, I really hope that whoever is out there looking for me has his own list–one that I can fulfill and one he won’t compromise on. Does that mean that I can’t be flexible on some of the things on my list? No. No, it doesn’t. But what it does mean is this:
I know what I want and I’m willing to wait for it.
Til next time, stay sassy!
Do you have a list?
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to a committed relationship?
I am the voice of Truly Madly Sassy and currently reside on the coast of North Carolina with my dog Snickers. I’m a full-time social work major, a most-of-the-time writer, a part-time mermaid, and a self-proclaimed princess. I’m a lover of all things chocolate, a staunch Starbucks addict, a sap for Rumi’s poetry, and a tried-and-true believer in happily ever after.