What is important to me?

I think I have accepted that I don’t want to be alone for ever. I think I have accepted that I can’t make a relationship in which I can thrive with my exP. (As an aside I was asked this morning by someone, who didn’t know we had separated, If I was hurt by that –  I found my eyes filling with tears as I said that I was) I’m a long way from being ready to meet anyone at the moment, hence not actively seeking or trying to do so, but I have been wondering what I would want, what are my non -negotiable’s in any future relationship?

I’m hoping if I have put some thought into what is important to me, I might be able to hang on to my sense long enough  NOT to ‘fall in love’ again until I KNOW that person ticks most of the boxes …

My purpose in this ‘scoping’ exercise is to try and avoid what happened last time. I fell, tumbled, head over heels in love, lost my wits and sense and was carried along by limerance, lust and excitement. With the help of my therapist, I’ve been trying to look at what particular needs that I had were being / seemed to be so completely met by that person, that led me to suspend my normal good sense and be so completely taken over by the relationship.

One of these is a need to be ‘looked after’; or not so much a need, as a ‘want’. Actually I don’t NEED looking after. I have a good job and I’m a perfectly competent person. I’m lucky in that I can employ people to do what I cant e.g fix my shower. But there is a small childlike part of me that just wants to be cared for and looked after. Angela and I have speculated whether this might be related to my distant relationship with my father and lack of his approval? Maybe its partly a female thing? Maybe is partly just looking for someone to share the load of my busy, hectic life. Either way, I picked a man who has a strong controlling and authoritarian streak, and very strict sense of right and wrong… initially that was very attractive, but ultimately it became too rigid, lacking nuance and sensitivity.

I’m beginning to think it was not just that HE changed, but that I did too. That when I met him I was astonishingly vulnerable, just out of my marriage with three young children. The things I found attractive then, were not what I needed 5 years later when I had found my feet again and regained some self confidence. That’s a gross simplification of the situation, but it has some truth…

So what looks attractive now ?

Strength looks different to me now. Strength is not about what you say, its about what you DO. Strength now looks like someone who is able to examine themselves, their own motivations and actions, who can reflect on experiences and learn from the. Strength now looks like someone with their own life and baggage who has managed that and moved forwards having learned something from life’s lessons.

Kindness. Kindness is a much underrated virtue. And it shows in myriad ways. Kindness is doing things for others without keeping a tally of your efforts, Kindness and generosity with time & love. Occasionally putting others first. Being able and willing to prioritise your partners’ needs, the needs of ‘the relationship’ and the ‘family’ … and balance them with your own.. being able to talk about it when those needs are conflicting…

Honesty, and that’s not just ‘not being a liar’ Its been honest about who you are and what you expect, Its about being honest about how you feel, Its listening and considering others points of view. It IS paying your way and not expecting to be supported. Trustworthiness come in here, and its not just about fidelity, its about everything. Someone who tries to do what they say they will, someone who can be trusted to make the ‘right call’ , someone on whose judgement I could rely. Its about living true to your values …

Someone who is solvent. I don’t need or expect someone to support me financially, but experience has taught me that I get resentful if I am expected to fully support another adult. Fiscal responsibility is important, some planning for retirement, living within their means, prepared to work for financial reward.

In not sure how important shared interests are? Somewhat I think, but not essential. More important is curiosity and interest in the world around us, a willingness to learn and to be engaged with what others think, the capacity and enthusiasm to question things and to embark on new experiences. That could be new food, or travel or political thought. It could be finding out about climate change or involving themselves with voluntary or charitable work in an area of interest.. anything really that sits ok with me morally.

Someone with no addictions ! I don’t mind if someone drinks, but I would prefer (no, its essential) that this is not the focus of their life. I think I will be able to spot an unhealthy fixation with alcohol at a mile – and I will not continue to date anyone if  I am unsure about their relationship with alcohol. Somethings really are best avoided! Equally, my NOT drinking needs not to be  a huge issue, I’m happy to talk about it, explain it even, but not to be encouraged to drink or to be criticised for the decision to be dry.

It has been pointed out to me that I am a ‘do-er’; if I think something needs to be done, I do it. I MAKE things happen. Probably a good example was son1; his lack of academic achievement and life ‘plan’ meant that he was bumming around, not doing much and I felt this was unacceptable and unhelpful for him. So, I did something about it and packed him off to Nepal for 6 months.

experience has taught me that I get frustrated by people who have a “no can do” attitude … so I’ll add that to my list of “needs” …

Now I just need to work out if such a person exists !


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