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Everyone has a mental list when it comes to romance. For some people, it’s just a few little things, like not being able to date a smoker, for example. For others the list is a lot more demanding, covering everything from income to family background. From a young age, we’re told not to “settle,” and there is a perfect guy hanging out on the hook, just waiting for those of us who didn’t get side tracked with others. But can our fear of settling for the “good enough” actually hold us back from something fantastic?

When I was 18 or so, I had a list, like most girls do. I wanted a man from a certain religious background, who had a certain (rather high) amount of education. I had a mental image of what he’d look like, and I knew for a fact that he’d fit into my family very nicely. He was a “BMW kind of guy.” It wasn’t that I cared so much about the car (because quite honestly, I’m a person who notices the color of a car and not much else), but it was the idea around the car. Somewhat conservative, but high quality. A good job, financially established and respected. I cringe a bit now when I think of my naive 18 year old self, because I had no idea. Just… no idea.

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Then I met my husband, and that was blown completely out of the water.

I often wonder what would have happened if I’d stuck to my list and snubbed that quiet, sweet guy who stopped to talk to me at church one week. He was the direct opposite of most of my list. He wasn’t even subtly flashy. He was working his way through a college degree, so his money was poured into tuition and text books and not much else. He didn’t have a car–he took a subway, just like me.

9 years later, I’m married to that sweet guy, and the thought of having missed out on a life with him is downright heartbreaking. Anyone else, no matter how great on paper, just wouldn’t be HIM, and that thought puts a lump in my throat. What if I’d held out for someone who completed that naive list? I might have found someone who did tick off all my requirements, but it isn’t so simple as that, is it? Not only do you want him to have all those superficial qualities, but you also want that soul-deep connection. (That’s a harder one to come by, trust me!) Oh, and you want him to be attracted to you, too. And make the first move. What if you held out for your List Guy, and it just never came together?

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We’re told that we “deserve” that perfect man who ticks off all our requirements, but I disagree. When we hold a human being up to a list and expect them to fulfill our demands, we’re missing out on the most important necessity in marriage–Love. And I don’t mean attraction, or compassion or an ability to compromise. I don’t mean an appreciation for just how great that guy is on paper. I mean the kind of love that rides out the hardest times, that would live in a cardboard box with that man if absolutely necessary. The kind of love that would gratefully care for him for the rest of his life as a quadriplegic, just thankful that he’s still alive.

Because we ladies seem to forget that men have lists, too, and it suddenly seems terribly unfair if we are cast aside because we didn’t quite measure up to an unrealistic goal. Of course, we don’t all look like supermodels. Of course, we don’t all come from money. Of course, we don’t all have perfect pasts. So if it’s shallow of HIM to pass us by for something so superficial, what about turning those tables?

So now you’ve heard my opinion, and I want to hear yours! What do you think? Are lists an important part of having standards, or do they hold us back from a life of love? I want to hear your take!

 

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