April 5, 2018
I recently read a book by Stever Robbins’ called “9 Steps to Work Less and Do More.” I’m a productive person to be certain, but I’m not perfect. One area that I needed help with is making faster decisions. Robbins has a super effective strategy for this, which he calls the “absolute yes” list. The idea is that when you’re deciding on a job, a car, a meal, etc., you prepare a list that would make said job, car, meal an absolute YES! If it doesn’t match your list, move on. If it does, STOP LOOKING! I fall prey both to settling for less than my list, AND finding at least 3 that DO make the cut, and then pulling my hair out trying to pick one.
This makes my administrative and musical life far easier, but lightbulbs went flashing and sputtering when I realized how much this applies to relationships, particularly a life partner.
Too many people “ghost” because they think they need to see if there’s anything better out there, when they haven’t even thought about what “better” is. How can you know if the person sitting across from you meets your standards, if you don’t know what your standards are?
My most recent looper cover is Start Over by Beyonce. I really connected to the experience of realizing that your partner, even though you love them very, very much, can’t make you happy long-term, and vice versa. How many relationships are built ONE characteristic, like sex, a shared passion, or even proximity and convenience? Bodies change, passions change, and people, well, move, and you’re left without the foundations of what you really need from your partner.
Maybe they’ve “lost that magic piece,” that made them fall in love in the beginning. It’s unavoidable as you change and grow. When that “magic piece” is gone, it’s the “absolute yes” aspects that carry you through.
If your list says “must love dogs,” but they’re a cat person, say goodbye. I know, you’re like, “But he’s so cute and nice!” If loving dogs is really important to you, zip it. I don’t care how cute they are. They won’t make you happy. If it’s not that important, then why is it on your list?
If you’ve fully developed your sense of self and have a clear picture of how a relationship fits into your life, then stick by your list. When you meet a person who also has fully developed their sense of self and have a clear picture of how a relationship fits into their life, put a ring on it (or get a cat or whatever you want to do)!
It doesn’t even matter how long you’ve known each other or how old you are. It’s THIS work that counts. You don’t need to date for years and move in together and take a year off “just to be sure.” Think about these things BEFORE you get that far.
Beyonce says, “Maybe you’ll settle, but I won’t.” She knows that no matter how much they fight and struggle, neither of them will have their needs met, which seems to be ok with her partner, who has fond memories of the woman he initially was so fond of and is now too comfortable in the relationship to find his own “absolute yes.” Let’s not get confused. It’s super, super scary and hard, so honestly I don’t blame him. We’ve all been there.
Ok, let’s make your list.
First of all, if you feel like you need some time to figure yourself out before making your list, go do that. Do some traveling. Read some books. Get some professional help and guidance. Listen to some music. Go talk to strangers. You don’t need to go on a billion dates to do this. In my song Sense of Self, I end saying, “I’ve been trying to find, I’ve been hiding my sense of self, so please don’t ask me.” It’s ok not to have an answer, but keeping an open mind and starting your journey to find an answer is a step in the right direction.
After a wealth of experience, an easy trap to fall into is thinking about what you DON’T want. “But my ex had a beard, and I HATED it!,” you say. Think bigger. What DO you want? Do you want someone who can dress themselves? Do you want someone who uses gestures like shaving to show affection?
Here’s my list, divided into categories:
Comfortable with some space
Knows their boundaries
Communicates directly and often
Honest with themselves and me
Respects my boundaries without taking it personally
Understands anxiety and doesn’t take it personally but is honest when it interferes
Thinks about “real stuff”
Has different interests than me
Taking steps to get to where they want to be in life and getting SOMEWHERE
Secure enough not to get jealous
Secure enough to support my “wins”
Willing to commit to someone for life
Can be happy in any place or many places
Makes time for fun and relaxation (ideally with me)
Drinks, doesn’t do drugs or smoke cigarettes
Generally healthy (diet, exercise, mental health)
Good with kids
Close with their family
Would fit in with my family
These apply to sex, money, kids, a home, vacations, careers, health, and everything in between. Skip the details that you associate with your “type,” and create a vision for what’s going to satisfy your life with your partner long-term. After the very wise Beyonce puts her foot down and does what she knows is best because she has a strong sense of self, they are free to… you guessed it… Start Over. After a wealth of experience in relationships and adulthood, they can evaluate their “absolute yes” lists and be ready to spot the person of their dreams. When you find someone who meets these standards, say ABSOLUTELY, YES! They are guaranteed to make you happy for a very, very long time.