It was one of those ‘find a perfect partner, clear out the past, call him in!’ relationship books, you know, with a photograph of airbrushed, glossy-haired, bright-white tooth, smiling woman beaming at you willingly, knowingly, on the back cover. Actually it was a great book, and I had worked through it diligently over the last month, as had a dear friend of mine, and here we were, sat out on a terrace in southern Spain, sun beginning its magnificent show of a descent, and we were on the last few pages of the book.
The second to last exercise we were asked to do, and definitely the most fun when shared with said friend, we were invited to write down the non-negotiable qualities that we were seeking in a perfect partner. As if we were ordering him (or her) from the great catalogue of ‘guess who’ choices, the grand buffet of humankind, manifesting a lover of the highest calibre.
A little giggling of girl excitement and soon we were ready to share them with each other, a glass of red wine obligatory to toast each quality to grape fuelled fruition!
After naming aloud and sending the silent prayer to the dusk swept vast sky we sat in silence for a while, receiving both our own words and that of each other. It was then that we read the second part of the exercise and this extraordinary ‘aha!’ moment settled over this Shirley Valentine-esque scene. This part was fascinating and such food for thought that I am still chewing over the gritty truth of these words over two years, and one long relationship, later!
Here is what we were asked:
‘Before you can draw in someone who echoes these qualities you seek, check to see if you need to offer these out first, are you lacking these in yourself, can you find them within you?’
I looked down over my list, my beautiful honest, innocent list. Words like ‘kind’, ‘honest’ and ‘loyal’, sat alongside ‘able to meet me at my heart’, ‘passionate’, and ‘living with integrity’. I paused and breathed and glanced again and with genuine curiousity begin to wonder if I too had these qualities down or was there some tweaking to be done.
Sometimes we are attracted to another who reflects who we are, holds the same values and beliefs that we do. Sometimes we find ourselves all ablaze with fascination and lust for someone who seems so out of character for us, an opposite attracts they say, and I guess they could be right. But maybe we look for what we do not see inside of ourselves, the hidden parts, the ones we do not necessarily show to the world, for fear of rocking our good girl or nice guy subscription, our shadow. It’s a cliché because it is true, that we like the ‘bad guy’, the ‘mysterious woman’, these almost fairy-tale parodies that have filled our storytelling, movies and novels for so long they cannot help but have formed from a deep part of our psyche. Myths and archetypes, princesses to be rescued and knights in shining armour, a modern day dating dilemma, deconstructed alongside a culture where women have to be like men and men like women. Our masculine and feminine qualities rocking out of balance, or seeking balance perhaps, causing confusion and heartache. No wonder dating this day and age is such a minefield! Technology seeks to separate us on one hand, boiling us down to a pot of morsels with no soul, and at the same time giving us the most choice we have ever had!
But one thing is clear. And it is what the smiling American woman shared so truly. If we are missing something from our life we will not find it in seeking another who has that in spades. According to the natural laws of attraction, yeah all that hippy shit I apologise profusely for bringing it here but there is a truth to it all, we will draw in, attract, what we are, how we are, and importantly what we believe deep down in our hearts. If we want love it’s corny but true, we need to ‘love’, give it out, to others, life etc. If we want someone to respect us, look hard and honestly at yourself and ask if we respect ourselves. We want kindness, be kind. If we want a passionate lover, check your own passion engine, rev it up by living the most wondrously as you can. And if we want someone to hold us when the nights are lonely and vast, then check to see where your own arms are and if you can wrap them around yourself, and love the company you are in right then and there.
We are all imperfect. We are all flawed and messed up and carrying the weight of old relationship mishaps and heart breaks. We all want to be loved. We all want to be happy. Fact.
So. Back to the list. It was a great eye opener for me and yes it made me reflect and look honestly at a few aspects of my ideal other and seek to bring those to life more in me. And yes, I did call him in, and yes he did tick all the boxes. Happy ever after? Who knows darling, life isn’t a fairy tale after all!