I think we all are looking for one true love, a partner in crime, someone to share our secret world. Love is complicated, though, and it is hard to know what to look for in another person.
When I was younger, I came up with a list of ‘non-negotiables’ – ten attributes that I wanted to find in a person like ‘moral,’ ‘communicative,’ and ‘lifelong learner.’ At the end of a relationship, I would reflect on my list and change it based on what worked and what didn’t.
I found myself frustrated that my list of qualities didn’t seem to be a good predictor for whether or not she and I would actually be compatible. A relationship with someone who checked all the boxes would sometimes turn out to be a disaster. I think this may have been the point my friend was trying to make when he told me that a relationship is not an Excel spreadsheet.
They say that a successful negotiation is when both parties feel like they’ve been screwed. I certainly don’t think that is true when it comes to relationships. In my experience, a great relationship happens when both people feel like they have lucked out.
You become the company that you keep. Over a lifetime shared with someone, you are going to pick up their qualities, their habits, their lifestyle. And you might just raise a child that is a carbon copy of them. In a great relationship, this should make you excited and thankful. Thinking about it should make you smile.
I have since thrown away my list and replaced it with a simple philosophy. Find someone who you feel lucky to be with, and who feels lucky to be with you. Someone who you admire, someone who you want to become more like.
That’s what I’ve learned about love.