Should You Ditch That List?

I took a scary step out on faith after repeatedly being cheated on, lied to, and manipulated. Here’s how it went!
Represents a list of qualities in a partner

Currently listening to Work in Progress by Mary J. Blige

After surviving a toxic long-term relationship and an even worse rebound one, I came to terms with the painful conclusion that I was officially a narcissist, fuckboy magnet. Until I could figure out what I was doing wrong, I committed to no longer settling in my relationships. 

So, to protect myself, I created a list of desirable attributes and accomplishments of my next partner. I vowed to no longer consider anything past casually dating anyone who wasn’t ticking off every single box. I was 26 and perfectly happy living without a partner. For the first time since the age of 14, I had the opportunity to be single and date without strings, without the expectation of long-term commitments. 

I’d taken a firm stance on my boundaries and expectations and concluded that compromising them would mean I’d be lowering my standards and, essentially, my own value. I’d already given up so much of myself during previous relationships, so I couldn’t stomach the idea of losing any more of my power or self-identity by venturing outside of the boundaries I’d set for myself.

Let me know if I’m striking a chord here.

Here’s the original list:

Ideal Life Partner

  1. Christian and saved (non-negotiable)
  2. Bachelor’s degree (shows commitment and follow-through)
  3. On a career track
  4. No kids (strongly preferred)
  5. Wants kids (non-negotiable)
  6. Wants marriage (non-negotiable)
  7. Good credit score 
  8. Has own place
  9. Two to four years older
  10. Honest, practical, and intelligent, with a good sense of humor
  11. 6’ or taller

I believed my list was reasonable. Unlike many of my friends’ lists which consisted of at least twenty-five items, I felt like mine covered the essentials and created an opportunity to build a solid foundation of the qualities I deemed most important. From there, I could possibly let down my walls and become open to getting to know the person on a more intimate level.

Then I met someone. He was kind, funny, attentive, young, and fun. We had stimulating intellectual conversations, we laughed, and we enjoyed each other’s company. Despite the chemistry I felt, I found myself holding back because he didn’t meet all the items on my list. 

I was at a crossroads and didn’t know what to do.

How could I be sure he was properly suited for me if I ignored his “shortcomings”? Would I be sacrificing my own happiness, stability, and sense of self-worth by settling?

As time passed, I realized that in a relationship – especially in a lifetime partnership – I didn’t have the luxury of calling all the shots. It takes two people who connect on an extraordinary level to create a healthy platform and nurture a strategic plan for growth. 

A meaningful relationship includes humility, sacrifice, communication, vulnerability, respect, and love. So when the right person comes along, you’ll not only entertain abandoning that list you’ve been clinging to, but you’ll feel secure while doing so. You’ll be able to find that many of the components on that list are malleable. 

Over time, I learned that the thirty-year-old Zariah was nothing like the twenty-five-year-old Zariah. And the forty-year-old Zariah has even more to add to the conversation. As we age, we cannot avoid change, and, as a result, our standards begin to change as well. With that said, choosing to be inflexible regarding your standards can be a surefire way of blocking your own blessings.  

Now, let’s take a second look at that list.

Ideal Life Partner

  1. Christian and saved (non-negotiable)
  2. Bachelor’s degree (shows commitment and follow-through)  There are other ways to prove commitment. 🎯
  3. On a prominent career track
  4. No kids (strongly preferred)
  5. Wants kids (non-negotiable)
  6. Wants marriage (non-negotiable)
  7. Good credit score **Fixable with time**
  8. Has own place
  9. Two to four years older  Age doesn’t always guarantee maturity. 💯
  10. Honest, practical, and intelligent, with a good sense of humor
  11. 6’ or taller

  • When I met him, he was only 22 years old. He had given his life to Christ at age 21 and had later disclosed to me that he’d also asked God to send him a wife just before meeting me. A true sign of readiness for commitment. 
  • He didn’t finish college. But he’d returned to the workforce and was on a promising career path in sales.
  • He wanted kids and marriage, which was very important to me. Neither of us had kids, so we could experience parenthood for the first time together. Although it wouldn’t have been a dealbreaker if he had kids.
  • His credit score was shot due to a lack of financial education and poor choices due to his young age. But he was willing to accept my help to rebuild it, so that was fixable.
  • He was four years younger than me. I’d never dated anyone that much younger, so that took getting used to. But he was independent, extremely mature, and shared my long-term goals. He’d also recently moved out and had his own place. I was impressed by that.
  • It didn’t hurt that he was smart, honest, caring, tall, dark, and handsome! So bonus points across the board!

Once I identified the qualities I thought I wanted and where I believed our future was headed, I decided to take the plunge. 

Now, I don’t think my story is the standard. So, I’m not advising you to abandon all of your standards for the sake of love. That’s certainly not what I did. But I am suggesting being open to taking reasonable risks when you see promising qualities in your partner and a future for your relationship. 

Things I thought I wanted and he didn’t initially have ended up being far surpassed later on. After almost fifteen years of building together, his credit is now fantastic (it’s actually right there with mine), he earned his business degree (I also got my Master’s and we graduated together), and he’s been the breadwinner of our household for the majority of our marriage.  Look at God!

There’s no such thing as a perfect partner (don’t I know it 🙄), but there is a perfect fit out there for you. Once we make peace with that, we can open ourselves up to taking risks and boldly going after what we want. 

So, take a chance and bet on yourself, Sis. Follow your heart and don’t let fear block your chance at a lifetime of love and happiness. 

It will definitely feel uncertain and scary at first, but it may also be well worth the risk. And you deserve every ounce of joy that’s out there waiting for you, so go for it!



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