The checklist is a fallacy.
I’m fully convinced.
OK. Let me back up to the beginning. I once had a checklist. A checklist for my ideal man; my potential significant other.
It was very detailed. If you can think it, you can be it, right? (I had a serious The Secret brainwash happening.) I might as well have made a scrapbook or a bulletin board with cutouts. Let me paint you a picture…
My ideal “checklist” man
He was around my age, give or take a few years. 6’2” or taller. Athletic/active. Educated/college degree. Well-paying job; financially independent. He was not obsessed with sports, but liked hockey (seriously, that was on my list. I’m Minnesotan, people). Believed in God. Musical, enjoyed theatre; cultured. Well traveled. His parents were still married, he was close with his siblings. A born gentleman. Extra points for being blue-eyed. No addictions. No debts. No crazy exes or mothers; no kids. Numerous other things in common. Like, you make popcorn in the air popper vs. the microwave? Me too! It’s so much better for you! We’re just on the same wavelength!
Do you see the problem with my list? It was (mostly) about personality traits. It was not about values. And it definitely did not take into account chemistry.
I don’t believe in the checklist, not anymore. I gave up on the checklist.
The fallacy: Case in point
Enter…. “M.” “M” was a man that checked every box. That should’ve been it — my happy ending. By all intents and purposes, “M” was perfect for me. We emailed long essays. We talked on the phone. We Skyped. But when we (finally) spent time together in person, instead of finding myself desperate to spend every waking moment with him, I longed for time alone. This was not a good sign.
I failed to have that gut-wrenching, soul-crushing pull of a connection. We had a nice time. We had things in common. We had nice conversations.
“M” and I were a match on paper… but we were not a match in person.
I remember my girlfriends meeting him and gushing over him. “How did you find him? He likes all the same things! He’s so interesting! And so tall! He’s straight up everything you ever wanted.” But all I could do was shrug and say, “Ehhh… I don’t know.”
One said, “Well, what’s wrong with you? I’ll take him!”
I questioned whether or not I was crazy and going to be single forever. (Verdict’s still out on that one.) I felt guilty; I needed to make it work! I told myself I should give it a chance to develop. Maybe the whole fairy tale-esque, force of nature, stomach-turning love is the stuff of fiction. Maybe, just maybe, the sensible choice is better than the emotional one.
Plus, as Adele’s lyrics say, I am running out of time. I should settle for the sure thing. Perhaps the unicorn (sensible choice + crazy love connection) doesn’t exist. Maybe you only get one or the other?
Well, that’s depressing.
Your unicorn does exist… I promise
I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m putting down. When you’re in love with someone, you don’t want time to yourself. You want to smother and be smothered (not saying its healthy, it just is how it is).
I ended up letting “M” down gently. I felt terrible about it… as you do when you have to dump someone who did nothing wrong besides being naturally the wrong person for you… and he was a great guy in a lot of ways. He was just not right for me.
But what I learned was that it wasn’t about the checklist. It’s not (only) about a person’s traits. There’s so much more to it. And so now, I’m checklist-free. Maybe he’s five years younger than me. Maybe he hates hockey. Maybe he’s only 6’. But seriously, my ideal man might turn out completely different than how I imagined him.
And that’s ok. By eliminating the checklist, I am now open and receptive to love, wherever and however it may find me. And I’ve had the gut-wrenching, soul-crushing pull of a connection. It’s so much better than the checklist.