After some very half-hearted dating efforts in December, I decided that January should be a man-free month. In common with half the population of the UK, I was feeling fed up, lethargic and disinterested. Eating all the leftover chocolates and watching box sets seemed much more appealing than dating. So far, so normal.
I also started doing two things I had put off for months – decorating my flat, and running three times a week. This felt good, and my sense of general satisfaction and contentment started to return. I started to think about what I really, really wanted from a relationship, and decided that values-based compatibility could be the key. Instant chemistry is great but tends to fizzle out quickly for me. And having lots in common and enjoying time together is, of course, important, but it is not enough to sustain a relationship.
I also realised that I tend to be attracted to men who are somehow really emotionally vulnerable – but this means that they are usually not in a stable enough place to provide emotional support for me when I am having a meltdown or a fragile moment, leaving me frustrated and disappointed.
So I decided to write a list of the essential qualities and values that I need in a partner for compatibility- and these are also things that I hope I can give in return.
Some of my friends strongly believe that doing this kind of thing increases the likelihood of finding what you want and need, and although I’m unconvinced by that, I see no harm in trying. In no particular order, they are:
- Care, kindness and compassion.
- Integrity and consistency.
- Being fun, silly and funny.
- Having the capacity to provide emotional support a.k.a. ‘has sorted out his past shit’.
- Curiosity and engagement with the world. Noticing and appreciating the small stuff.
- Sexually respectful. Should be a given, but sadly it seems to be quite rare.
- Has a passion for something. Anything! Passion is sexy.
- Being broadly contented with their life, settled and stable.
- Making an effort – the big stuff and the little things.
- Thoughtful and intuitive.
- Honest – I prefer my honesty blunt to the point of brutal, but I realise I may be in a minority with this one!
I will confess at this stage that I wrote the list whilst slightly drunk, it took me about 5 minutes, and then I put it in a drawer ‘for safe keeping’. And there it stayed for a few weeks until I had a long conversation with a male friend about why people have been ‘wrong’ for us and how bad we seem to be at finding the ‘right’ ones. I remembered some of the things from the list, and we agreed that values were the way forward. He asked if I had ‘scored’ everyone I know, and it seemed like a fun way to spend an evening! So the next day, with more wine, I went through everyone I could think of (male and female) who I knew well enough to know their values and gave them a score out of 12 against my list. All of my good friends ‘scored’ a minimum of 10 with a large proportion of 11’s and a couple of 12’s, but interestingly my ex-husband scraped in with just 8…one of the lowest scores!
I concluded that I am doing well at surrounding myself with ‘my kind of people’, which has not always been the case. Even with the absence of a ‘significant other’ in my life, I feel more loved and supported now than I ever have. And by following the values on the compatibility list myself over the last few years, I have become much more contented with my life and feel much more like myself. I have Russ Harris to thank for of this. His book The Happiness Trap really did change my life by helping me to focus on my values and what really matters to me – ultimately leading to the end of my marriage and now a big career change. Thanks Russ!
I have also used my list for matchmaking purposes. I worked out that a couple of my single friends might actually be really compatible with each other based on my genius new Values Dating System (ahem). And as for me…well, there was only one male friend who scored a 12. I have known him for 7 years, but this was a bit of a revelation. And if my new man-choosing system works, then there should be fireworks, right?
But how the hell do I introduce this into a conversation? ‘By the way, I’ve decided we’re really compatible. Check out my list!’
I am really not good at this stuff. But for you, dear readers, I will try. I will let you know next time how it went…or how I chickened out…
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