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Unrea-list-ic expectations

Is a list of key attributes in a partner logical - or plain unrealistic?

Is a list of key attributes in a partner logical - or plain unrealistic?

A friend of mine, who has quite a strong spiritual streak, told me recently about a list she’d written a while back when single and hoping to meet someone.

I groaned when she told me the two sources that had inspired her to write the list; Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 self-help book, The Secret, and an audio disc from motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

The Secret, which appeared on Oprah at the time of its release and has been equal parts gushed over and pilloried since, espouses what Byrne calls ‘the law of attraction’ or the idea that like attracts like. Basically, it’s about positive thinking – think good things and good things will happen to you.

Robbins, one of the world’s best-known motivational speakers, touches on the same sort of thing in this particular exercise that my friend Jamila recommends. “Define the Ideal Mate” is Robbins’ solution to not being able to find that perfect person – he says it’s as simple as writing a list of all the things you want in a partner. Then, poof - like a genie in the bottle, they will magically appear before your very eyes.

Jamila spared no detail in her list, which she was kind enough to share with me. Desired attributes ranged from quite generic, run-of-the-mill stuff such as “He makes me laugh; he’s intelligent; he’s honest with me” to more specific, idiosyncratic stuff like “nice kind brown eyes; he’s quite shy at times; he doesn’t have too many female friends.” After writing the list, Robbins instructs you to identify the non-negotiable items on it – in Jamila’s case, “he’s confident but not cocky; he wants to travel; he’s open with his feelings” were but a few. I had to laugh at Jamila, but she’s a firm believer – just two months after she’d written it all down, she met someone who ticked all the boxes – all of her “musts” and most of her other desired qualities too.

I’ve never been a big believer in destiny and I don’t personally think that Jamila’s meeting her mate had anything to do with the fact that she’d practised the methods outlined in The Secret, but as loathe as I am to side with Tony Robbins, there could be something in this list idea of his. Robbins himself acknowledges the ostensible simplicity of the idea, but the process of outlining exactly what it is that we want and don’t want should make us more highly attuned to the qualities that fall outside our parameters of acceptability, and therefore be able to sort the wheat from the chaff quicker in future.

So far, so good. But what if, on a list of say, seven “musts”, your potential partner falls short in just one or two areas? Is devising a list as specific as this one setting yourself up for failure, or do we simply need to become more tolerant of each other’s shortcomings?

A friend of mine has just started seeing someone. He is ticking a hell of a lot of boxes so far. He’s smart, driven, attractive, kind – they appear to share most of the same values. There’s just one thing holding her back. “He’s not very funny,” she sighed. “In fact, I don’t think he’s made me laugh once. I really want to be with someone who makes me laugh and who I can have fun with.” I get it. A sense of humour is important to me, too. But should she give up this great guy and all his other amazing qualities simply because he’s missing (just one) of the things she values most? How picky can we afford to be?

59 comments so far

  • Oh Annabel, you are such a cynic. Stop being so negative. This stuff actually works. The Secret is a commercial amalgamation of law of attraction principles ... anyone wanting to know more should google Jerry and Abraham Hicks and others. This stuff is real and embracing it actually makes a difference. I am a real live person and I did exactly as Jamila did (and yes my partner that I met shortly after had all 22 of the characteristics I listed!).

    Commenter
    t
    Date and time
    November 13, 2012, 11:20AM
    • Having a list is fine but the problem comes from evaluating the items. You should have no more than about 5 non-negotiables full stop. You should also look out for contradictions in what you want (ie one point may contradict another) or evaluate whether your overall requirements are reasonable or do they drastically reduce your potential market? ie a Jewish, Emo one-legged lesbian who votes for Pauline Hanson could be what you want, but finding one in Australia or the world might be a bit hard.

      Commenter
      John Holmes
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 11:24AM
      • Absolutely agree. You can have whatever list you like, but don't whinge that you can't find someone who's right for you.

        I liked the comment on a blog the other day: don't write down your wants, write down what you find totally unacceptable and could not live with: it may be someone who's religious, racist, illiterate etc.

        If I'd had a list I suspect it would have had someone with a love of, and skill with language. As it is, he can't spell very well, has difficulty writing whole sentences and generally writes in capitals. That doesn't alter the fact that he's intelligent, speaks a few languages to my one, has a photographic memory for history etc etc. My mistake would have been to assume that someone intelligent would never have some learning difficulties.

        Commenter
        bornagirl
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 1:40PM
      • I'm a jewish, one legged emo lesbian, and so are eight of my closest friends ! But sadly for you, none of us vote for Pauline Hanson. No one does.

        If you go putting impossible to find qualities like "votes for Pauline Hanson" in your list, really you're saying "I'm not ready for another relationship" and "I want to have a sure fire reason to hate my future ex-partner too".

        Commenter
        Esther the Lesbo
        Location
        Queensland
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 11:19PM
    • Ah the divide between male and female. Never more evident than from reading this article.

      Commenter
      MrBlonde
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 11:25AM
      • Elusive a catch the ungettable, men over 50 dont want women the same age or older becauce the women are so accomplished. Older men want fashion models and so the older women overlooked become more and more productive making older women more interesting and more arousing. What the men go for lacks the seniority stakes of a woman with far more experience and could possibly outdo a woman half her age in the bedroom stakes.

        Commenter
        Pickled Herring
        Location
        Frankston
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 11:52AM
      • +1

        Commenter
        James1993
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 12:28PM
      • Yup. Agreed.

        Commenter
        AT
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 2:20PM
      • Good point Pickled Herring, I'm sure I'm a lot better in the bedroom (due to lots of experience) than I was when I was half my age. The same probably goes for some men. As they age and lose their youthful good looks they improve in the bedroom due to more experience with what a woman likes (well, some do, at least).

        Commenter
        experienced
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 12:38PM
      • How so? I am female I think lists like this are crap. In fact, most of my female friends think lists like these are crap. Your logic is like saying I know some guys that like to watch Rugby and eat meat pies on a Saturday afternoon means all men like to watch Rugby and eat meat pies on a Saturday afternoon. It's just dopey and just reveals you have a limited experience of women

        Commenter
        AT
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 2:18PM

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