More frequently than I am comfortable with (still) many people ask me why I am single, and even as I’ve started giving the most straightforward possible answer, “I haven’t met the right person yet,” they still peer at me with scrutinizing eyes seeking my faults and shortcomings as a person. They quiz me, “But hasn’t anything seemed like it could have worked out?” as if to probe if the problem is with how I mess up relationships (yes, that too). As a society, we are generally uncomfortable with single women of a child-bearing age if they aren’t widowed, divorced, a single mother, or have some explanation for “why” they are single, like a diplomatic career that requires extensive international travel or serving as a caretaker to elderly parents like my Aunt Elise.
One of the main reasons I’ve ever been interested in marriage is to have a strong relationship to raise children, but only if it’s with the right person. Same for companionship – I enjoy being on my own, and I don’t like giving someone else a say in how I spend my time or what I do with my life. There isn’t a feeling of lack or some missing piece, but I have a lingering feeling that a soulmate-type partner could be a good thing, maybe. I haven’t technically stopped looking, even if like 100% or so of my attention has been focused on my art and business and my own stuff (perhaps we’ll discuss this in a separate post: “When You Think You Want One Thing, but Everything You Do Is In Pursuit of Something Else.”).
Scenic Lookout, near Makapu’u Point on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawai’i. (Prints available.)
I am not sure what kind of answer people expect when they ask me these questions and because these are usually well-meaning people who care about me and don’t see me as an obvious nightmare and unlovable beast, I try to put aside the condescension or insult in the consistent theme in their tones, namely that men are not choosing me and I should keep my chin up because surely there is someone out there who can appreciate me. It seems beyond credibility that the main reason I am single is because I haven’t found someone who I want to be with, with whom I feel a strong connection, and – I can’t stress this point enough – is actually available (I really don’t believe in going after other people’s guys).
Whether I’ve meant to or not, I’ve internalized the idea of positive attraction and being ultra-specific in putting out to the universe what you are looking for so you can recognize it when it appears in your life. Until fairly recently, I would have said something vague like “someone kind with nice eyes who likes nature?” and maybe that I like dark hair. In the course of making an Ikigai chart (we’ll talk a lot more about that another time) I also made a list for soulmate qualities, broken down into Non-Negotiable, Preferences, and Ideal. I was surprised by the things that matter very much to me now that didn’t even factor into my thinking in my 20s, and conversely things that I used to think were pivotally important, which I couldn’t care less about now. I’ve also learned that what you don’t want can be as important as what you do, so I’ve factored that in.
All this is by way of saying at this point in my life, this is what (I think) I am looking for in a partner, and in the interest of not having to sit through any more awful, tedious dates where men mistake descriptions of their Leg Day workouts for conversation in search of him, I ask that if you know someone at all like this, you’ll kindly send him my way.
(p.s. to the Universe – only if I’m actually ready, okay?)
- Non-smoker, no hard drug habits or binge drinking as a lifestyle
- Not racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, intolerant of religions / cultures, or otherwise a bigot
- Kindness, compassion, empathy
- Sense of humor and levity
- Demonstrable intellectual curiosity
- Has some kind of spiritual life and respects mine
- Abhors violence and greed
- Actually available and not involved with or secretly pining for someone else
- Values the arts, literature, culture, and / or willing to explore more
- Has well-developed hobbies and enjoys independence / is okay with me needing lots of alone time to do my things
- Wants children or a family in some form, willing to consider adoption or fostering
- Loves animals or is able to be unconditionally kind to pets
- Loves nature, supports environmentalism, enjoys spending time outside
- Willing to go sailing, kayaking, hiking, bicycling & misc. active / sporty things (as able)
- Has some kind of work ethic / pride in doing things well
- Does not spend all of their free time getting high and playing video games
- Lives with gratitude and appreciation
- Well-developed emotional maturity and the ability to communicate like an adult
- Likes food, trying new things, will enjoy me cooking and obsessing about nutrition
- Good taste in music / willingness to develop
- Enjoys reading and values literature – bonus if they can introduce me to new authors / great books
- Healthy relationships with family, especially parents
- Excited to travel a lot and explore the world
- Kind eyes and a warm smile
- At least a little bit taller than me
- Gets along with my family
- Good manners
- Good kisser / lover or willing to take constructive feedback
- Generosity of spirit and charitable actions
- Will dance with me at weddings if able
- Already knows how to sail and can help me learn
- Speaks other languages, but won’t mock my French too badly
- Writes or speaks well and appreciates a clever turn of phrase
- Appreciates mushy sentimental moments without being hokey or insincere
- Truly believes in egalitarianism
- Better than me at things I dislike (finances, computers / technology, mechanical repairs)
- Patient and reasonable, gentle without being passive
- Loves me for who I am
Some additional caveats and disclaimers:
- I’ve phrased this post as generally being about a straight, cis male because that’s what I assume I am attracted to (or would need to have biological children) and it is linguistically the easiest convention, but it may turn out that my soulmate is not a romantic partner, or that when I meet the right woman I fall head over heels in love with her, and any of that is fine by me.
- I’ve presented this list exactly as written because it was created in a moment of openness and honesty following meditation and soul-searching (you can view it in my neurotic handwriting here and below). I am resisting rewording some things or moving them among sections, but it is notable that loving me for who I am is non-negotiable for romantic love.
- These qualities are not organized in any particular order, nor by any means complete, so much as what came to mind in a stream of consciousness. There is, certainly, some subconscious order and priority at work.
- I recognize that to attract this type of person, I also have to be this type of person, which I am working on all the time. I am actively resisting succumbing to insecurities about my appearance, body, economic status, or whatever else because my soulmate should not be shallow or judgmental.
- I also recognize that people have a limitless capacity to grow and change, so I will remain open-minded.
- I am keenly aware that my soulmate might be a little gray cat, and it may be greedy to ask the Universe for more love and understanding than I already have in my life with my family and friends.
- Looks are not important at all compared to character, but it would be okay with me if my soulmate looks like Henry Cavill and has a sexy accent.
(Click to enlarge on Flickr)