I’ve been open from the start that one of my motivators for writing this blog is to leave a legacy of stories and memoirs for Z. She’s 10 now, and we have awesome conversations all the time, but there are still some things that she’s just not ready to talk about yet.
One of those is how to find the right partner – someone with whom you fall in love not just out of proximity or chemistry, but for smart and strategic reasons, too.
Yes, I said it: love requires strategy.
I didn’t understand this as a young woman. I believed in romance, true love and love at first sight (aka chemistry). My first marriage was based on those things. I used zero strategy in landing that fish. I went forward with my heart, not my head.
My parents tried to talk me out of getting married back then – but then, they tried to talk me out of every boy I ever dated. I didn’t see eye to eye with them on the subject of love and dating until much later.
You see, my parents were basing everything on strategy – on whether someone was my intellectual equal, had ambition and was on track for a successful career and life. Those things felt tacky and unromantic to me – like the opposite of love.
Now that I’m older, I know that you actually want a partner who brings the best of ALL these things to the table. Someone whom your parents would approve of because they make sense on paper, strategically – but also someone who gives you butterflies and makes you feel giddy. Yes, it is possible to find both.
I feel so very blessed to have gotten it right and married my soul mate the second time around. This doesn’t mean life is perfect all the time, but it means that when things are working well between us, we’re each other’s perfect match. We bring out the best in each other. We complement each other’s strengths. And we happened to have made an incredibly amazing kiddo together as the icing on the cake.
So how did I find and land the love of my life? A ton of credit goes to Alanis Morissette and her 2002 song, 21 Things. Not only is it a great song on a great album, but the lyrics are also brilliant: literally just Alanis’ list of 21 things she looked for in a lover.
Do you derive joy when someone else succeeds? Do you not play dirty when engaged in competition? Do you have a big intellectual capacity but know that it alone does not equate wisdom? And her list goes on.
Fresh on the heels of my divorce, that song was like a lightbulb going off for me. I had never even thought of coming up with a list of qualities I hoped to find in a partner. I had never been strategic in my dating or relationships – and boy, did it show!
Listening to Alanis on repeat, I quickly came up with my own list of 21 things. I put those intentions out into the universe. I was in no rush; I was perfectly happy being single until I found someone who had those characteristics and traits. I felt warm and secure in knowing that I brought a lot to the table – and that I deserved to be with someone who did the same.
Would it surprise you to hear that within a matter of weeks, I met E? Or that he came already pre-vetted by my best friend, and that she agreed he knocked my list of 21 things out of the ballpark? There were only two items on my list that he didn’t check off, but both were fairly superficial and 17 years later, are clearly things I can live without.
And yes, I encouraged E to make a 21 things list too – and I was super happy when I saw I checked almost all his boxes, too. And the rest is history!
So, my advice to future Z, and to anyone out there, is simple: don’t give up on love, chemistry or romance… but also be smart and strategic. Know what you bring to the table and what you’d like to find in a partner. Know what your needs are emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. Put it down on paper and out into the universe. Make that list of 21 things.
And then go forth into your life, have adventures and be open to meeting the person who rocks your world!
On a similar topic, here’s a great TED Talk about a woman who used strategy, data and algorithms to find her own true love. She took finding the right match to a whole new level – it’s honestly impressive.
So, how did you find your own true love? And if you haven’t yet, will you create a list of 21 things after reading my story? I’d love to hear your love stories in the comments below or over on Facebook.