When relationships don’t work out, our immediate reaction is to insist to ourselves: “But we were A GREAT MATCH. Nobody else has even come close. It’s hopeless!“
I hear you ladies. But with time comes clarity. The time frame varied, but sometime soon after a breakup I would realize my former boyfriend and I weren’t so great together after all.
(Well, obviously. It’s called a breakup because it’s broken.)
And that is how, based on my dating history, I came to develop my 3 types of love theory.
It’s quite simple. My partner needs to have three out of three. Two out of three just isn’t good enough. No matter how amazing he is, it will never work out unless he is all of the above. So when I’m evaluating a prospective boyfriend, I ask myself the following questions.
Do I admire him?
Love type #1 is admiration.
He stands for something. He teaches me something. He works at something. My prospective boyfriend needs to have qualities that I respect and admire.
Intelligence, integrity, ambition, a sense of self. His ethics are rock solid; he does the right thing, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. He’s going after his dreams, and is a provider; he has a good idea of where he’s going in life and how to get there. He has brilliant judgment; whenever I need sound personal or professional advice, his opinion is the first thing I ask.
To put it simply, I love how he thinks and behaves outside of the relationship. He inspires me.
One of my former boyfriends… let’s call him “P.” He forfeited my respect. He allowed his mother to badmouth me to my face and didn’t defend me. Behind my back, he had conversations with women discussing topics unbecoming of a man in a committed relationship (which led to rendezvous that I later discovered when a friend of his accidentally spilled the beans)… and that’s just what I knew about. “P” checked my other boxes, but this shady behavior was unacceptable.
Bottom line, having admiration for my partner means I can rely on him to do the right thing, to guide me and to support me.
Is he kind?
Love type #2 is kindness.
His number one goal is to see me happy. He works tirelessly to put a smile on my face. He cares about my feelings. In our relationship, we have a culture of giving, of appreciating.
He is generous with gifts of the heart and of his time, and is not stingy with gifts of the earth.
He doesn’t allow himself to be the cause of any pain, guilt, or distrust, at least not for long. He is compassionate; even through a disagreement, even if silence has passed or a harsh word was said.
We don’t need to agree, but he needs to listen. He makes an effort to understand. He is never too busy for a few moments of reassurance or comfort. He doesn’t allow needless suffering to take place because my pain is his pain. He doesn’t say things that can’t be taken back.
To put it simply, I love how he thinks and behaves inside the relationship. He is kind and generous.
Take former boyfriend “R.” He constantly made me feel guilty for being at a financial disadvantage to him (I made significantly less money). I recall one weekend trip. We had gone out to dinner the night before, and “R” footed the $45 bill. The next day, he had a hankering for a soda and pulled into a gas station, telling me to run in to buy it for me. As I scrounged for some change in his car, he demanded, “Seriously? You can’t buy me a soda with your own money? I bought you dinner last night, surely you can pull out your credit card for $1.50!” I was quite awestruck. This guy talked a big talk, but his actions seldom followed through.
Bottom line, a partner who is kind won’t try to make me feel bad about what I can’t bring to the relationship, and appreciates everything I do bring.
(Sidebar: Income is variable. As someone who’s been both “rich” and “poor,” money is not worth fighting over.)
Do we have the hots for each other?
Love type #3 is physical chemistry.
I really don’t think I need to explain this one. But it’s equally as important as the rest.
I need to feel butterflies. To feel my heart burst when I see him and ache when I leave him. An overwhelming desire to run my fingers through his hair, slip my hands under his shirt, touch his stomach, kiss his face.
If you don’t have a physical reaction to a person, it doesn’t matter how great he is. Three out of three, remember?
By the way… notice how I said a physical “reaction” vs. physical “attraction?” This type of love is not based solely on looks. I’m talking about a literal physical reaction. There are tons of men who by standard definition are physically attractive. But chemistry goes so much deeper. It’s not just physical desire; it’s staring into his eyes and feeling the world spin around you. And, for me, it’s very rare to experience.
I had a really great boyfriend once, “F.” He was smart, hardworking, caring, and beyond generous. We were very close and great friends, and had a ton of things in common, but we didn’t really have the spark. Our relationship was more friends than lovers. Unfortunately, I had to let him go.
Bottom line, that emotion, that passion, is so terribly important to have in a relationship.
To wrap it up
I need to love who my partner is outside the relationship, inside the relationship, and physically.
Will it be possible for me to find that 99.9% (because no one will be 100%) match? It’s what I’m holding out for. Because every time I’ve thought, “But we were A GREAT MATCH. Nobody else has even come close. It’s hopeless!” my next boyfriend had upped the ante. Every time, I get closer.
You too. All of our dating experiences are bringing us closer and closer to our 99.9% matches. Just don’t forget to ask yourself the hard questions. The time we spend with the wrong person is keeping us from spending time with the right one.