So much is made about “the one.” But how I define my perfect mate probably differs from your perfect mate. That’s part of what makes dating so exciting.
Most people (including me) start out defining what characteristics they want in their potential mate (tall, dark, thin, curvy, etc.). But in my short year and a half of reentering the dating world, I’ve discovered that I’m doing myself and my date a much better favor by defining what I want by looking for values.
After a long marriage, I can tell you that having similar values is much more important than what a person does, how much money they have or what a person looks like. This seems like a no-brainer, but how often do you hear someone physically describe their perfect mate? And, I’m just as guilty when a friend asks me what I’m looking for.
Do we even know what we’re looking for? I had a friend recently (so refreshingly honest) tell me he had no idea what he was looking for in a woman. I think to know what you want, you have to know who you are.
While I took a shotgun approach to dating, it was really an exercise in figuring out what I wanted and defining what matters to me. It’s been a time of reflection and definition for myself. Because I took the time to do that, it’s given me the opportunity to define how I want my life to look like, how I want to live, who I want in a partner and yes, what I truly value in life.
A book that I love is called “50 Things That Really Matter.” It’s a great peak into my value system and what I think is important in life. This is what I want to impart on my children and what I want from a partner.
“Big homes. Luxury cars. Diamond bracelets. Digital TVs. Exotic vacations. Extravagant trips to the spa… These aren’t the things that really matter in life. Not by a long shot. What matters most is the simple pleasures so abundant that we can all enjoy them; the plain values that define us as good people; the emotional connections with friends and family that fill our souls with a sense of purpose.”
But, do I love those material things? Sure, I do. They make life more comfortable. But if I don’t have those connections in my everyday life, that big home, luxury car and all of the diamonds I can wear mean nothing. A luxury ski vacation doesn't mean a thing if you don’t want to be with the person with you.
In addition to those values, I am looking for someone with certain characteristics, someone who has similar interests. But those things are more “wants” than “must-haves.” Someone with similar values is a must-have. Someone tall, dark, silly, responsible, warm and genuine is certainly someone who would catch my eye, but he has to have similar values to keep my attention.
Another girlfriend suggested that there has to be a happy medium. I agree. I doubt I will find someone who checks every single box. But I do expect to find someone who shares my values and wants to live the same kind of life that I do.
So the next time you’re asked what you’re looking for, tell a friend about what values you want and you’ll more likely find the person who you’d really like to date instead of just someone who meets those physical characteristics. As my grandmother always said, “Beauty is only skin deep and we all grow old eventually.”
I'm single and loving it. Two kids and a busy job. Life is an adventure. Being single is liberating. Life is short, spread joy.