“The most perfect relationship is the one that supports you in fulfilling your destiny—the one that empowers you to be everything you are meant to be in this world and beyond.” ~Jan H. Stringer
As I was sitting up in my bed, reviewing my “Ideal partner wish list” from six years ago, I was a little appalled. I had no idea how much I had been influenced by Hollywood when it came to identifying what I wanted in an ideal partner. It was watermarked all over my wish list. It was hard to ignore.
There was an undertone of entitlement in my wishes. They sounded more like demands than requests or desires.
My list looked like I was ordering a custom healing balm to soothe my loneliness and lack of self-worth. It didn’t look like I wanted a partner to enhance my experience of life and reach deeper levels of intimacy with.
I used to believe that if two people loved each other, things would work out. As I got older and wiser, I understood that the “love” they referred to was not the kind I had known: demanding, repressing, and controlling.
It was the kind that encompasses self-love and respects each person’s desire to be themselves. I didn’t even know what that kind of real, mature love looked like.
I grew up on romantic movies with happy endings and romance novels where unbridled passion takes over logic. In those movies, no matter how difficult the circumstances around the couple were, they would somehow resolve those issues and walk off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
The books I was reading followed the same scripts. I allowed these stories to settle in my mind and heart as truth, as something I should expect—every time.
After seeing my belief system, expectations, and how I approached relationships, the reality of it all sat in my stomach for a couple of days. It was no surprise that I had pretty tumultuous relationships since writing that list.
Naturally, I decided to write a new list. I wanted to see how far I had come, if at all. At the last minute, I heard the voice in my head saying, “Write it in a way that reflects self-love.” So I complied.
This time, the items on my list seemed far from the requests of an unripe princess who is throwing a temper tantrum. They came from a place of knowing myself deeply and wanting to give myself nothing less than the best.
I knew my unhealed places and my must-haves based on my core values. By now, I had had enough experiences and relationships to know which qualities I need my partner to have for the relationship to not take away from my existing happiness, and contribute to my growth as a human being.
It took me a long time but I get it now: A partner is not a cure for all my problems, or for how good I feel about myself. He is only responsible for his half: his happiness and his choices. He is off the hook from the responsibility of making me happy.
Yet, I let myself desire what I desire. For instance, historically, I am attracted to men who can fix anything around the house and find ingenious ways to overcome a problem they encounter while doing that. It’s sexy. I desire that. I enjoy that. But my happiness does not depend on it.
There is even a bigger, unexpected benefit to the new version filtered through self-love: this new list feels real, achievable, and believable to me. Because it is based on truth I have gathered about myself. This, of course, increases its power and my faith in it even more.
Since I wrote my new list almost three months ago, I feel relaxed in the knowledge that the right partner will show up when he is due. Not a minute sooner or later. And I have no control over that.
I kick back and live my life, enjoy relationships, grow through them, and do not make the guys I date the potential father of my children right away. I let them reveal who they are and I reveal who I am in time, and see if there is enough overlap for us to continue.
If you had told me two years ago that I could relax into the arms of the Universe to lead me to my ideal partner, I would not have believed you.
I no longer play games or shape-shift to gain and sustain someone’s interest and love. Even though the price of this wisdom was high, I still feel grateful for all my heartaches and disappointments. Through my experiences, I found invaluable pieces of me that I will never give away.
If I am here today, enjoying the peace of this knowing, anyone can get here. Here are a few steps to get you going in that direction.
1. Instead of worrying about how you’re pleasing your partner, your boss, or your friends, start paying attention to your own emotional responses to life.
See what excites you. What kind of a life do you imagine having if all your wishes came true? Get a little notebook to carry with you at all times and write down everything about you.
“I find crop circles fascinating,” “I don’t enjoy cooking except for when I invite company over for dinner,” “My dad calls my mom at work every day. I like that. And so does she.” Get to know you. That is the gateway to knowing what to look for in a partner who is ideal for you.
2. Pay attention to how you meet your own emotional needs.
What makes you feel cared about? What pisses you off to no end? What do you do when you feel sad, lonely, or desperate? Who do you share your joys with? What kind of a response do you like to get for them? How do you find inspiration in life? What takes away your trust and what keeps it strong?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you know what would keep you happy or what would not take away from the happiness that you create for yourself.
3. Imagine that you are a non-judgmental secret self-love agent and your job is to provide a report of your findings of this inner research.
Write this report on yourself from a place of getting to know the person who has lived on this planet, in this body all these years. It is meant to be a loving mirror of who you are, what tickles you, and what takes away your joy.
4. Write your new “ideal partner” wish list based on the person you know yourself to be.
Create an avatar for the partner who would complement you and who can support you in becoming the man/woman you are here to be.
Change and embellish this process as you like and don’t pressure yourself. It could take days or weeks to complete. Allow yourself to enjoy the process of getting to know yourself. Write this new list as a celebration of who you are based on what you find out, accept, and love about yourself. That combination is irresistible!
Couple silhouette via Shutterstock