What We Really, Truly Want In A Partner

February 24, 2016

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” ― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

The first time I read this quote, something in the rhythm and the words chosen really resonated with me. I loved it so much that I bought this print by Oh My Deer and put it right on my nightstand. It’s just so basic. That’s all we want – someone to eat, drink, and sleep with…the things that are essential to us as human beings to live. If that’s all we want, then why is it so hard to get past a first date these days?

Over wine and organic, gluten free, vegetarian snacks, a couple friends and I had a really in-depth, honest, and (as the night progressed) slightly non-sober conversation about dating in 2016. Thanks to online-dating, we have more opportunities than ever to meet a mate than our parents and grandparents who were more likely to marry someone up the block. We have Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, E-Harmony, Grindr, Jack’d, Happn, and a never-ending list of other dating/hook-up sites that are missing a vowel in the name. We have algorithms that calculate whether 2 individuals are suitable so shouldn’t finding a partner be easy?!

But as Aziz Ansari put it in Modern Romance “mo’ options equals mo’ problems.”

Our culture of abundance actually works against us as we operate under the belief that there are TONS of suitable and eligible mates at the swipe of our screen.

We are less inclined to give someone a second chance; the benefit of the doubt that maybe they just had an off night. We have more first dates that we can count and fifth dates are like magically rare unicorns of the dating realm. If a date goes badly or there’s no immediate “chemistry,” no problem. With a flick of my thumb I can line up 3 more dates for tomorrow.

It is ESSENTIAL to be picky because how else will we be able to slog through a whole world full of people available to us? So I want a guy who’s tall, only listens to country music (good luck!), only reads nonfiction, likes to run in the mornings, is outgoing but shy, looks like Chris Hemsworth, etc, etc, etc, etc…We need to feel a “spark”…..we should just “know” he’s the “one”. I feel like I’m going to sprain my air quote fingers. We don’t like not knowing. We don’t like not being in control. We force negative resolutions to avoid a potentially bad surprise. The problem is that life is a parade of bad surprises (and good ones) so you’re fighting a losing battle.

I get it. We are busy and only have a finite amount of time and we don’t want to waste it on a relationship that doesn’t have potential (but how do you know what has potential?). That’s completely valid. Ain’t no one got time for selfish partners who can’t even be bothered to make it to your birthday. I’m not saying that you should settle for less than someone who understands what a glorious creature you are (Oprah moment?). I’m just asking you to manage your own expectations and be really aware of your feelings. Do you really think you can get EVERYTHING from any one person? We don’t expect our parents or friends, teachers, or co-workers to be EVERYTHING to us. They have a role in our lives. Give people a shot to surprise you. Maybe they can bring you some happiness for a while, regardless of how long that ends up being.

That Hemingway quote reminds me that at the end of the day, we just want someone(s) to walk through life with. The rest is gravy.