So here’s a weird thing. When I was a kid, I wrote this little journal entry describing the “man of dreams.” (Well, actually, I wrote the “boy of my dreams” because I was only 13.) Here were my basic requirements: I wanted him to have black hair. (I specified “curly.”) I wanted him to drive a jeep. (I was sort of into the “outdoorsy” types.) I wanted him to have a dog. And I wanted him to play the guitar. Those were my big requirements. (I know, I know – where’s honesty? where’s intelligence? where’s sense of humor? blah, blah, blah. I know. I was only 13. …)
So anyway, I met Chris (my now husband) in high school, about three boyfriends in. The first three boyfriends didn’t fit these requirements at all. But, actually, neither did Chris. He did have black hair, but it was straight as wheat. He didn’t play guitar. And he wasn’t old enough to own his own dog, let alone buy his own jeep. But I liked him anyway. And gradually, eventually, we fell in love. …
But here’s the weird thing: Chris’ hair GOT curly. It started right after our senior year, and, by the time we were in our early 20s, he had a mass of black curls on his head.
Meanwhile, somewhere around that same time, he morphed into a guitar player. … I’m not kidding. Whenever we’d visit his brother and new sister-in-law at their apartment, he’d pull his brother’s guitar onto his knee and teach himself chords and strums while we all carried on a conversation. Today, he owns two. Both acoustic. And he plays them quite well, actually.
In 1993, much to my surprise, Chris drove home in a newly purchased jeep. (Can you see where this is going?) We were already married, but it wasn’t my idea. I never told him about my list – mostly because I’d forgotten about it until fairly recently. But isn’t that weird? Do you think I sort of had a notion way back then that this is the type of man I’d fall in love with? Or perhaps he was always exactly the man I was to fall in love with, but I simply had to mature to properly “see” him.
Theoretically, I’m opposed to such lists. I think it’s a terrible idea to have preconceived notions about who you will (or will not) fall in love with. But I find it a little weird that – despite all likelihood – I met and married a man who literally became my dream. …
Valentine’s Day is approaching, and I’m curious: Did you ever have a “list”? (Or was I the only silly 13-year-old pining away for Parker Stevenson in my bedroom?) Did the list do you wrong, or did it come oddly true like mine? Spill all, girls. It’s only me, you, and my three readers. … : )
Hi Laurie! Of course I have a list! But I wrote it when I was 26, not 13. After my last big breakup, one of my girlfriends told me that I HAD to create a list of what I wanted/needed in a partner and what traits in a partner are important to me. My friend told me to take my time writing this list (and, at 26, I no longer had hair and car requirements, so it took awhile to write) and then keep it and refer to it often in my future dating adventures. She told me that if I wanted to find happiness with another man, then I had to avoid previous pitfalls in choosing men and make sure that I choose a man who aligns with my wants, needs, values, etc. I think my friend’s advice was great. I still have the last and still refer back to it. I’ll let you know when I find a guy who fits it, or who is so amazing that I throw the list out the window and never think about it again.
Well, I am happy that I didn’t know about that list because others may have accused me of trying too hard.
I have to say I never had a list or anything like that. I had always just either liked or didn’t like someone. Like, it would just come over me; not in some mystical, hippy sort of way but just hit me. Almost like a song. You know how a song can just grab you and you don’t really know why/how? It just does. Something like that. But I do know that the very first time I saw my future wife was at a McDonalds. She was with her boyfriend at the time (who right then and there became my mortal enemy for life because he was ordering a Big Mac with my future wife) and I was only 12 or so but I knew it; I felt it. We’d never met before then and did not even run in the same circle but I knew she was the one for me. Luckily for me about a year and a half later a friend of mine, who was also somewhat of a friend of my future wife, introduced us at a high school football game. We were 14 and have not been apart since-we’re both 42 now, I think my method worked…
Pat Allen says when looking for a mate you need 2 “non negotiables” — things that you won’t compromise on. My 2 (this was later in life, mind you) were sense of humor and intelligence. I didn’t care about money, or hair, but I know someone with those 2 traits could keep me interested for a lifetime. It’s been 20 years and it seems to be working! Love him more every year!
Carrie — Well, a list written at 26 must certainly be more practical than mine written at 13, as yours surely is! (I know you didn’t mention a jeep!! ha, ha …) I think as long as you keep it to a very minimum — what’s reeeeeeally important — and not so long it becomes impossible to meet. I love Dixie’s advice a little further down, from Pat Allen, with her 2 “non-negotiables.”
Dixie — Thanks for mentioning that. I interviewed Pat Allen once, and she was a GREAT interview. Smart lady. She really helps women out. I saw her promoting her “Getting to ‘I Do'” book on TV awhile back. Anyway, I think she’s very smart about this, and the 2 non-negotiables sounds like a smart thing, without ruling out other interesting possibilities. Glad it’s worked for you! 20 years! congrats!
Chris — awwwww … my dear hubby. You’re the best!
Having been married for ten years, it is hard to think back to a wish list. ~Grin.
Off the top of my head, I’d say that I wanted someone from the same religious background as me. I wanted someone with an education, someone who knew how to be kind, someone who knew how to laugh.
As a mom of three (nearly four) girls, I suppose I want the same things for them. I’d add that a high FICO credit score is really important too. (I’m not overly practical or anything!)
When I was 15, I had an English teacher who was an amateur psychologist. He gave the class a test in which one of the questions was: Draw a picture of your future spouse.
I found the question annoying because I actually HAD thought of other qualities such as honesty and kindness in the past, but to me, “handsome” came in lots of shapes, sizes and colors. So, I drew one version of what I considered good-looking.
Well, I forgot all about it until after I was married (which didn’t happen until I was 30) and came across the test. I was a little freaked out that the picture looked EXACTLY like my husband (well, except for my bad artistic ability).
I know, maybe I subconsciously preferred that type, but I still found it kinda freaky.
Timely topic, Laurie!
I guess do have an unofficial, unwritten list, one that keeps evolving over time (thank goodness!).
The superficial stuff keeps making its way down to the bottom of the list, becoming the “would be nice if but doesn’t really matter” traits: nice upper body, great hands, darker/brunette, tall, musical or appreciates music, accomplished in some way.
A reader, someone unphased about dating a woman with a graduate degree (believe it or not, that has been an issue in the past, even though it wasn’t an issue for me), someone well-traveled or at least open to it, never been divorced, has a good relationship with his mother, values family, treats other people with care, not just me.
Patience, kindness, self confidence (affects me intellectually/emotionally/viscerally) are important. Finding someone with an un-selfconscious generous spirit, where you feel enveloped by it from head to toe. An optimist who can laugh at himself, and at the complexities of modern life and human failings rather than respond with anger. Someone who is Not TOO serious.
A measuring stick for me in the past was, Do I respect him enough to possibly be the father of my children someday? (Boy did that weed out a lot of men over the years!) Having the same general faith was important, too, especially if children were a possibility. Finding a man who is spiritual and strengthened/humbled/freed by religion rather than diminished by it or afraid of it has tremendous appeal.
So for me these days, it mostly crystalizes down to spirituality, generosity, someone who has a sense of inner peace. And self confidence is huge. (A culinary adventurer would be an added plus!)
Oh, and (maybe this is because of my Southern relatives?? Not sure) I respond rather meltingly to terms of endearment, even if they’re coming from a cousin, friend, uncle, not just a boyfriend. Sweet names can warm your heart in some instances, make an instant smile break out on your face—or be the verbal equivalent of a touch to the small of your back. : )
Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!!!
I love your story, Laurie. That’s what they call “visualization” and making it happen. I think something solidifies or becomes more real when you write it down. And, Chris, your perspective was so sweet! You have to save that for your kids to read.
I don’t know if I had a list — of course I wanted him to be funny — which he is. But I do know that I spotted him several times on campus and thought he was HOT! And then one day, when I running along the path of his frat house (He was a frat boy with a blonde sorority president girlfriend! I was NOT a sorority girl, with black hair.) I said to myself, “I’m going to go out with him someday.” I had no logical reason to ever think that would ever happen; I had never met him and had no connection to him. I don’t think I met him until a year later, and he still had a girlfriend.
Anyway, I think that’s my version of “visualization” or “writing it down.” It’s been 16 years, he’s still really funny and still hot, albeit with a little less hair, and he’s turning the big 4-0 on Valentine’s Day!
Rachel — Love the practicality aspect! You’re a girl with a good head on her shoulders, I see! But I also noted the “same religious background” — I know that’s really important. For me it became a moot point, since we happened to be of the same faith, but I often wonder how challenging that must be for others: What if you fall in love with someone who isn’t of your faith? What a quandry that must present. …
Texan Penny — What you described is EXACTLY how I felt. There was a “freakiness” factor when I found that list (because I’d forgotten most of it). But visualization must be stronger than we think.
Barbara — I think you’re describing everyone’s dream man! ; ) If you had to boil it down to Pat Allen’s only two “non-negotiables,” I wonder which two they’d be? Your “do I respect him well enough …” line rang as one of supreme importance to me. I think so much boils down to respect (another post!).
Grace — Thanks for the awesome story! I love it. Sounds like Texan Penny’s story, and mine. There must be something to all that visualization. But I’m still left wondering: Are we somehow glimpsing the future? Or are we doggedly making the future happen?
Awesome chat, ladies! ; )
Yes, my list was way to lengthy! (Do we blame it on the writer in me, or does it point to the reason why I am still single? Ah, well, let’s treat that as a rhetorical question. 😉 )
OK, my 2 non-negotiables?
For raising a family, my 2 non-negotiables:
My ideal three:
2) Similar Faith
I always like the example of Cockie Roberts (Catholic) and her great marriage to Steve Roberts (Jewish). Love can always overcome differences. We see it all around us.
But I have also known people whose parents had some kind of religious foundation, but who did not pass any of that on to their children, and just left it to them to choose (or not). Those children, as adults, often had it together in many areas of their lives but felt lost on subject of spirituallity and religion, sometimes even fearful. Questioning, exploring, evolving are all good when it comes to faith, hopefully we are all doing that throughout our lifetime. But the lost feeling, maybe that didn’t have to be.
I think there’s definitly something to visualization. In the wonderful, amazing way that we’re all connected organically, biologically, we must put some kind of positive (or in other cases, negative) energy out there in the magnetic fields (similar to the way animals react to our energy, or in the way that they sense something is coming weatherwise—-sorry for the quick, science-lite layman’s explanation!). I think we read that on deeper levels, whether or not we are aware of it. We have not fully realized that kind of sub-communications that must go on all the time.
Switch of subject: Laurie, I think “emotional intelligence” would be an interesting topic to explore in one of your future blogs.
I remember your list at 13! Remember the notes we wrote back and forth instead of talking, weekend after weekend? I remember the boy at McDonalds too…I don’t remember who introduced you to Chris, I just remember he was all you talked about afterwards!! It’s nice to see you two are still a great couple!
Debi! So amazing to hear from you! Yes, you would have been there for the “list,” being my best jr. high friend and all! And yes, I guess all I ever talked about was probably Chris, Chris, Chris. … : ) You were probably discussing Ronny or Sean? : ) We sure were boy-crazy!
awww that’s cute, I’m opposed to lists as well but its hard not to make them. Ive never actually WRITTEN one down, though, because i was afraid that if i did, I would be stuck with it forever and that my vision would be set in stone (even though it was paper and i DID have an eraser handy)
*facepalm* Just realized I hadn’t read this yet. Sometime you have to beat me over the head with a reminder. I love, love, love this! It reminds me so much of my own story.
Alright, alright I’m gonna blog our story. Soon.
Nene (my DD) — Ha! That made me laugh about thinking it was set in stone even though you had an eraser handy … yes, indeed. You’re definitely young enough to feel the liberty of an eraser! : )
Crystal — Thanks mucho. And yes, you should definitely write your and Charles’ story. Tell yourself you’re not going to post it (so you have the freedom to write with honesty). Then only post it if you truly feel comfortable. That will loosen you up about it. But it’s fun to write it down either way. 🙂
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