Do you ever look at your significant other and think, “How did I ever fall for you?”
My husband and I have been together for 5 years and I have my moments where this thought crosses my mind. Now, don’t get it twisted. I love him and all, but it amazes me how different he is from what I thought I wanted in a man. He differs from the qualities I had itemized on my list.
You know, the list. The list women make of qualities they want in a man. I started my list at age 16. Then, added to it as I got older.
By the time I was 27, my list looked like this:
Of course, he had to have a good moral code. No cheating, stealing or killing, but that’s a no-brainer.
I measured men against my list constantly. No man ever measured up – a fact that was clear to my girlfriends.
I was at a girlfriend’s house 7 years ago, in the middle of one of my typical monologues about what I wanted in a man and lamenting about how hard it was to find a “good” one. She was rolling her eyes as I was reciting my list. I wasn’t sure what all her eye-rolling was about.
Me: I’m just looking for someone who is 6 feet tall, has a 6-figure salary and drives a nice car.
Girlfriend: Well, you’re going to be looking for a long time.
Me: “No, I’m not,” I retorted, “I’m not settling for anything less than what I want.”
When my male friend introduced me to my now-husband, I knew he wasn’t the one. He didn’t embody the qualities on my list.
- He was only 5’3 (Strike 1)
- He was a graduate student in a town 2 hours away (Strike 2)
- He was unemployed (Strike 3)
- He did not have a car (Strike 4)
“Well, you can be friends with him. Can’t you?” My male friend said.
I didn’t have a good rebuttal. The truth is I liked having male friends. They can take you out for dinner. They can introduce you to their male friends. And if they have a crush on you, you can bask in the glory of being the center of his attention.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
So, we became friends. He’d call. We’d talked. And through conversation, I learned more about him: he had taken engineering classes, earned a degree in medicine, and ran a shoe business on the side.
He was knowledgeable about a variety of different subjects. I always learned something new when speaking to him. And he seemed interested in all of my random ideas for excursions: day trips to Savannah, hiking up Kennesaw Mountain, and experimenting with eateries around the Atlanta area.
In spite of the 4 criteria that he did not meet, there were others that he did meet.
6-feet tall Lives in my city 6-figure salary Nice car
- Good personality
When he asked me out on our first date, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. At the very least, he was an interesting person so I knew I would have a good time. I didn’t want to be rude when he asked, but the question most prominent in my mind was
What vehicle was he going to use to pick me up?
Tony arrived at my home in a 1996 Nissan Altima that was screaming for a paint job. The engine roared through my neighborhood announcing its age to everyone.
“My uncle gave it to me,” Tony explained. “It’s just something for me to get around in until I finish school.”
The car did not fit into the luxury class that I envisioned, but at least he had one. So, semi-check?
The item in the passenger seat did fit my category of romantic. He purchased a scarf for my birthday. I mentioned in one of our conversations that I loved scarfs. He remembered! (Check!!)
Our date was fun. If Tony wasn’t sure if he liked me before, the date solidified it for him. Tony became assertive about his feelings for me and wanted us to become more than friends.
I was torn.
On the one hand, we had a good time together, he was intelligent and funny. He was honest. He kept his word.
On the other hand, he didn’t live near me and he didn’t have much money. He also wasn’t six feet tall. In fact, he was very far from it.
How would we see each other or get to know one another if he was so far away? And when he graduated, what if he got a job in another city? Then, we’d be even further apart. And he’s short. How are we going to appear in photos if I wear heels? I was working 20-hours per week at the time, so my paychecks were small. How were we going to get by if we both didn’t have money?
Tony wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.
He insisted on driving to Atlanta every weekend to visit and promised that the long-distance was only a temporary situation. He assured me that after graduation that he’d look for a great job with a decent salary and benefits.
So, I didn’t say “no,” but I didn’t say “yes” either.
I simply waited.
In the meantime, Tony kept his promise and came to Atlanta each weekend. Since we didn’t have much money, our weekends consisted of us going to a park, splitting a meal at Chipotle, or hanging out at each other’s homes.
One weekend, I was invited to a black-tie event at work. Tony had a conflict and wasn’t able to make it. He rearranged his schedule and showed up at the last minute. I was happily surprised.
Girlfriend: Are y’all dating yet?
Me: I don’t know. We’re friends.
Girlfriend: Didn’t you go out last weekend and the weekend before that? Doesn’t he come to town each weekend to see you? Don’t y’all talk every night? You’re dating, Yaa, you just don’t know it.
And that terrified me! I couldn’t be dating someone I didn’t think was the one.
He still didn’t meet all of the items on my checklist, so I did what any girl attached to the persona of her dream man would do.
I broke up with him.
And of course, it was dramatic. Tears. Proclamations of love, followed by the assertion that we could not spend any more time together.
Our time apart was painful. I missed him and realized that my girlfriend had a point. Tony may have been unemployed and lived far from me, but he had demonstrated his commitment to me. Since he was hard-working and intelligent, it was only a matter of time before he got a great job with great pay. So, after two months of unofficially dating, I decided to let go of all the items on the list and give it a try.
That was the best decision I had ever made.
Tony landed a great job 6 months after completing his graduate degree. Unfortunately, the job was in Florida, 6 hours away from my home in Atlanta. We endured a total of 4 years of long-distance before we finally found ourselves in the same city in 2017.
Maintaining a long-distance relationship was not easy, but Tony was committed to making the relationship work despite the hundreds of miles separating us. He traveled as often as he could. He made sacrifices to make the relationship work.
Over the course of our relationship and now marriage, I realize how shallow some of the items on my list were. Who cares how tall someone is? Tony makes me happy and none of those ways has anything to do with his height. The good thing is that I’m pretty petite as well. I’m 5’2, so he is still taller than me. And plus, Tony has such a strong and assertive personality, I often forget his height.
I think about the conversations I had with my girlfriends several years ago and chuckle. I was silly to think that a man that checked each item off my list would make me happy. I had no idea what I was talking about.
Don’t get me wrong Tony isn’t perfect and neither is our relationship. We’re both doing our best to make it work. I am relieved that I didn’t let some silly list get in the way of my happiness.
So S&T did you have a list? How does your partner measure up to your list? Let’s chat below!