Friday, February 8, 2008

The List

My students have an assignment to create their list of Must-Haves and Can't Stands in a life partner. I began creating mine at the age of 14, at the urging of my father. It is now a monster in terms of length, but one that truly represents what I need in a partner. For my student's sake, I'm posting it here and sharing it publicly:

He will be incredibly honest.
He will never, ever lie to me, even if it means relational discord.
He will tell me if he doesn’t like something I cook, if he doesn’t like something I’m wearing, or if he doesn’t like something I’ve done or am doing.
He won’t wait to tell me until it’s too late to do anything about it.
Together, we will make one terrific team. Together, we will accomplish things that separately we would never be able to achieve.
He will dream big and tell me often about those dreams. He will actively work with me to find ways to make some of those dreams come true.
He’ll listen to me vent after a really bad day – even if he doesn’t feel my frustration, anxiety, or feelings are warranted. He’ll listen to my excitement when I’ve had a really good day – even if it isn’t something that would excite him.
He will have no problem asking for what he wants – relationally, sexually, intimately, or otherwise.
He will want to hear my desires and needs.
He will compliment me when there is something special he takes notice of.
He won’t patronize me. He will see me as his equal.
He will miss me when we’re apart.
He will be proud of my accomplishments.
He will remind me often that he loves me, even though I already know.
He will keep the secrets I tell him.
He will have good social skills, be able to meet new people, carry on a good conversation, and not make a fool of himself or me socially.
He will call if he’s going to be late.
He will ask me difficult questions about life.
He will think I’m wonderful, and when other people ask about me, he will have nice things to say about me.
He will be my confidant.
He will want to hear all the stories from my childhood, my teenage years, and my young adult life.
He will regale me with his stories as well.
He will take great joy in the creation of our new stories together.
He won’t do things out of mere obligation.
He’ll put me first – ahead of others in his life.
My perspectives and opinions will be important to him.
My happiness will be important to him.
He will consider my feelings when making important decisions.


He must be a born-again Christian. He can and will be fatally flawed, yet forgiven. He must be a spiritual partner who sees God in similar ways and who seeks to understand his relationship with his creator. We can disagree about worship practices and philosophies, but the core values and things we believe in strongly should match. I want a partner to support me spiritually as well. He will go to church with me every week and pray with me regularly. Together, we will have a regular (weekly) Bible study as a couple, and have a goal of praying together every day.

He must not be holier-than-thou, sanctimonious, or overly concerned with ritual and tradition (like what hymns or praise songs are sung or when the offering is taken up or if a woman is in a leadership role). He must not judge others who choose to worship God in different ways. He must not believe that because he was saved as a child, that means he’s still saved. He must not buy into religious teachings that make women subservient, second-class citizens.

Personality Variables
He’ll enjoy a good intellectual discussion as well as utter silliness – even in the same day.

He’ll laugh at everything that is remotely funny. He’ll laugh at himself, at me, and at the millions of funny things this crazy life presents. He’ll want to have lots of fun. He’ll find fun in the mundane goings-on of life. He’ll want to have lots of fun with me.

He will not be selfish, and will know how to put me first sometimes. He will share freely with others and give to those in need.

He must not be depressed and sullen a majority of the time. He must be, overall, a generally happy person. He will want to be happy.

He will be flexible.

He will have at least as much college education as I have. He’ll have common sense, and know about lots of things I know nothing about. He will be brilliant and well read, but will know that other people (myself included) are just as smart and capable. He’ll teach me new things.

He won’t take issue with the fact that there are things I know more about than he does.

He will like what he does for a living. Work/career will not be all consuming to him or me.

He will be interested in my career and future aspirations. He’ll gladly edit my work, listen to what happened in class or at the office, and support me in whatever I decide to do career-wise.

He will work as hard as I do in all aspects of his life. He will not become complacent with his lot in life, and will always strive to become better at what he does for a living.

He couldn’t care less if I make more money than he does.


He will have fastidious personal grooming and hygiene habits. He will believe in showering every day and simple things like brushing his teeth. He will cut his hair regularly before he looks homeless. He will also shave every day, and I’ll cut him some slack there on weekends and when he’s not feeling well.

He will not wear pants without appropriate undergarments. He will not wear dirty clothes. He will not find it amusing when he smells bad. He will not pass gas and laugh and rate it on an Olympic scale.

He will encourage me to be healthy - he’ll help me with healthy eating, weight loss or maintenance, and exercise. He’ll eat something decadent and completely unhealthy every now and then and enjoy every bit of it.

He will try new things – new foods, new recipes, new activities – just for the sake of variety. He’ll have lots of new things he wants me to try as well.
I want him to let me try to cook the things he likes as well as allow me the freedom to cook the things that I like and he doesn’t.

He will not be a vegetarian, or insist that we eat only organic foods. He will not be a health-food fanatic or a work-out obsessed body builder.

I want to eat dinner together as often as possible.

He’ll respect me. Despite what will certainly be frequent differences of opinion, he’ll respect my right to my own views.

He’ll respect himself. He won’t compromise his values.

He will not engage in physical violence against me, our children, our pets, or other people.

He will not engage in verbally aggressive conflict, including raising his voice, name-calling, or swearing at me.

He won’t run away from an argument (physically or emotionally).

He’ll view compromise as a necessary part of ensuring relational sanity instead of something that causes people to loose out on what they really want.

He’ll not publicly humiliate or belittle me. He’ll keep relational problems out of the public arena. He won’t discuss our relational problems with anyone who will listen. He will not discuss our relational problems with members of his family.

He’ll tell me when I’ve done something that offends him, annoys him, troubles him, or hurts him. He will be open to hearing it when he has done the same.

He’ll accept my apologies. He’ll forgive my faults. He and I will both say “I’m sorry” when we commit a wrong.


He will tolerate and be nice to my cats. He will give them food and water. I do not expect him to ever have to clean the litter box, except if/when I am pregnant or too ill to do so.

He will never hit, kick, or hurt the cats.
He will never want to own a dog.

He must be willing to become my best friend, and treat me as such. He must seek to maintain healthy connections with other people he considers his friends. He must correspond with and talk to his friends on a regular basis, and seek to do things together with people other than me. He will want us to spend time together with other people.

He must not place his friends above me. When he thinks he needs to give time to a friend instead of meeting family obligations, he should consult me first. He should not engage in inappropriate behavior when with his friends that he would not engage in when in my presence (drinking, smoking, drug use, swearing, and other assorted “actin’ a fool” behaviors).


He’ll touch me constantly. He’ll rub my feet just because and rub my back when I can’t fall asleep. He’ll run his fingers through my hair and along my back. He’ll hold my hand. He won’t be able to touch me enough.

In turn, he’ll love being touched. He will like to cuddle.

He will be passionate, intense, and want amazing physical intimacy with a partner who wants to experiment and experience new things, and who’s willing to try almost anything once.

He’ll kiss me all the time. Occasionally, he will kiss me passionately. He will love kissing me as much as I love kissing him.

When I’m in bed and can’t fall asleep, I’ll ask him to tell me a story, and he will accept the challenge.

Occasionally, he will wake me up in the middle of the night to make love.

He will meet me for lunch in the middle of the day for no reason other than to see me for just a while before going back to work. On occasion, we will go home and make love in the middle of the day and then spend the rest of our work days grinning.

He will share his fantasies with me and be delighted to hear mine.

He will not believe that sex is for a man’s pleasure alone. He will not ignore my sexual needs by frequently giving me excuses for why he’s not in the mood.

He will never, ever, under any circumstance be unfaithful to me – he will not kiss or fondle other women or engage in cybersex.

He will not watch pornography unless he is watching it with me for fun as a couple.

He will want to go out on the town from time to time.
He will have good social skills, be able to meet new people, carry on a good conversation, and not make a fool of himself or me socially.
He’ll take me to the theatre, to concerts, museums, and cultural events. Afterwards, we’ll critique every detail and laugh like idiots.
He’ll enjoy spending time with me and will want to spend a lot time together. He’ll allow us to talk about work if we want to, or not talk about it at all on days we don’t.
He will surprise me.
He will work with me to create a life full of fun, excitement, novelty, and spontaneity.
He will frequently give “romance” his best attempt.
He will do some things just because he knows how important they are to me.
He will want to go out at least once a week, and hopefully more often.
He’ll take me on dates even after we’re too old to do much.
He’ll write me love letters and poetry and play romantic music for me.
He’ll sing to me, even if it’s more funny than serious.

He will not let sports overtake his life, sanity, or responsibilities. He will turn off ESPN and FOX Sports and other assorted sporting events when there are other pressing responsibilities and deadlines to meet. He will strive to maintain a healthy balance between working and watching sports, and other aspects of his life.

He will not require me to go to sporting events with him. He will allow me the freedom to choose which events I want or do not want to attend. He will not pout or complain about my lack of enjoyment of watching or participating in any sport.

He will not be a Nascar fan.

In-Law Relationships
He will love his family and seek to maintain relationships with his family. He will want me to be a part of his family.

I hope he will like my family.

He will not be rude, insulting, or hateful to my family. If he has things to say about my family that is negative, he will reserve those comments for private conversations between he and I.

He will not discuss our relational problems with his family. He will not compare me to his mother (or any other relative). He will not expect me to be like his mother.

He’ll support me. He’ll do things for me when I can’t do them for myself, or just because he knows it’s important to me. He’ll support me emotionally by listening to me. He’ll provide confirmation and validation when I need it. He’ll encourage me to be the best at everything I find important to do.
He will be a life partner – someone who will help out with anything at all, even if it’s not his interest or area of expertise. When life’s in crunch-mode, I want a partner who actually wants to help out.

He will remember my birthday and buy me thoughtful gifts.
He will buy me little presents for no special reason.

Living Arrangements
He will work together with me to afford and buy a house that we will be comfortable and safe in, and that provides a safe and comfortable place to raise a family.

He will work together with me on the upkeep of the house.

He will not attempt household repair jobs that he cannot handle. He will call and pay for a proper expert for home repairs.

He will view housework as a joint effort. He will compromise on household task responsibilities so that together we can live in a clean and relatively organized home.

He will not leave dirty dishes in the sink longer than 24 hours.

Physical Characteristics
He will, of course, be absolutely beautiful to me.
He will not spend more time on his physical appearance than I do.
He will not have long hair, and will get regular haircuts prior to looking homeless.
He will keep his fingernails and toenails neatly trimmed.
He will not be morbidly obese.
He will not be shorter than me.
He will have the presence of buttocks.
He will not grow a beard. He will trim any facial hair regularly before food and small animals take residence in it.

He will be on time for social events and engagements by arriving by the time the function is set to begin. If the movie starts at 7, we will be sitting down in the theatre by 6:55 at the latest.
He will not make me late by failing to be ready to leave the house in time to make it somewhere.
He will do his best not to cancel plans at the last minute (literally).
He will make social arrangements well in advance (hopefully a week in advance at the least).
He will not waste a tremendous amount of time sitting around being slothful.

Extended Family Relationships
He will realize that our long-distance family situations likely make it difficult to maintain frequent contact with family members. Nonetheless, he will make a concerted effort to allow us to see our families at least once a year – if only during the holidays or a short visit during summer vacation.

He will not create guilt-trip scenarios for me if we are unable to frequently travel to spend time with family members.

He will pay special attention to his relationships with his siblings, as they will likely outlive his parents. He will also be supporting of my efforts to maintain a healthy relationship with my brother.

He will want to regularly get out of whatever city we are living in. This travel can be to another city on a day trip, short weekend trips to an adjacent state, or longer week-long trips.

He will not “count” travel to professional conferences as our vacations and will not consider that sufficient “time away”.

He will not want to go on vacations with extended family.

He will view other vacation options than just going to Las Vegas. He will want to do more on vacation than sit in a hotel room and watch TV. Likewise, he will not have to plan out every single minute of a vacation.

He will plan a trip out of the country with me for sometime in the future.

He will hate debt. He will work hard to eliminate all sources of debt in his life, as I have in mine.

He will not spend beyond his means. If he cannot afford something, he must not purchase it unless he can make the necessary payments (house, car, major repairs, etc.). He will not use credit cards for unnecessary purchases.

He will save money, both on his own and through retirement accounts.

He will tithe to his church, and view tithing and more than just a financial obligation.

Money and material possessions will not be the most important things in life to him.

Parenting Issues
If we cannot have biological children, he will be willing to try moderate levels of fertility treatment options. He will not insist that I put my body through hell to try to conceive. He will view adoption as a viable option for us. He will not view race as an important factor in adoption.

He will view parenting a joint obligation. He will take joint responsibility in caring, feeding, changing, disciplining, and playing with the children.

He will be committed to raising our children in a Christian church, and with Christian principles in the home.

He will love giving and receiving hugs and kisses every day.
He will not be stingy or selfish with the giving and receiving of affection. He will not be afraid to touch me in public, but he will not grope or fondle me in public, or engage in socially inappropriate PDAs.
He will like sitting close to me on the sofa, and snuggling up together while we watch TV or a movie, or listen to music.
He will dance with me in the living room.
He will “get fresh” with me, on occasion, in various rooms of the house.

He will not view tasks according to gender lines (i.e. that there is “woman’s work” and “man’s work”). He and I will divide tasks and responsibilities according to what we are good at doing, or what we enjoy doing. When there are things that need to get done that neither of us want to do, we will jointly devise a way to get it done that works for both of us.

He will not expect me to baby him when he is sick. He will appreciate the fact that I will take care of him when he is sick. He will be appreciative of my care giving efforts.
He will keep yearly well-visits to the doctor, and the dentist for routine cleanings.
He will not have any sexually transmitted disease.
He will engage in basic routines of taking care of his health – eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking, drinking, or doing drugs.
He will not abuse over-the-counter drugs.
He will view his health holistically – physical, mental, and spiritual health.


FosterAbba said...

I have to ask, does your current mate meet your requirements?

Julie said...

that is a tall order but much thought has been put in to it- relationships are just hard- expecations or not- ugh

S. said...

It is a well thought out list. If Michael is alot of those things--then you have found yourself a good man! It is great to know exactly what you want and need-clarity is great.

Debbie said...

I think I would love to meet that man, but bejesus, does he even EXIST???? If so, then please direct me to him!