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21 Things I Want In A Lover

When I’m single I have no problem waxing poetically on my ideal boyfriend.

I am easily able to list the qualities in a man and the elements of a relationship that are important to me. For example: he must earn a comfortable living doing what he loves. This is essential to me now after having dated too many starving artists—without the artist part. All that’s left is a guy with no money and no dream and a helluva chip on his shoulder. But once I start dating a guy, suddenly all of these “essentials” disappear like they’ve gone into the witness protection program.

Why are we so quick to give up the things we want in a relationship?

And if you throw the word “compromise” at me, I’m going to hit it out of the field so hard the bat will snap in half like a twig. I mean, there’s compromise and then there’s compromise. The dictionary defines compromise as “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions.” It does not define it as “giving up everything that’s important to you just to have a date on national holidays.”

Alanis Morissette has the right idea with her song “21 Things I Want In a Lover”.

The chorus sums it up:

These are 21 things that I want in a lover
Not necessarily needs but qualities that I prefer

I figure I can describe it since I have a choice in the matter
These are 21 things I choose to choose in a lover

I’m no singer-songwriter, so I will just blatantly steal Morissette’s song as my own list of qualities that I prefer in a lover. For instance:

Do you derive joy from diving in and seeing that
loving someone can actually feel like freedom?

Are you funny and self-deprecating, like
adventure, and have many formed opinions?

It’s not so much that I will clutch these lyrics to me like a life-vest as I bob in the middle of the Pacific, but the idea is to realize what’s important to me, memorize my own “lyrics”, and then sing them in my head when I find myself becoming interested in a new man (which may be some time, as I have committed to not date for the rest of the year in order to write my own song, so to speak).

Are you uninhibited in bed, more than three times 
a week, up for being experimental?
Are you athletic? Are you thriving in a job
that helps your brother? Are you not addicted?

These are all important things to consider when deciding whether to spend the rest of your life with someone. My wardrobe is not filled with clothes that don’t fit, my fridge is not filled with food I don’t like, and my friends are not people with whom I have nothing in common. So it’s time to hold my future lovers up to the same standards.

Read more posts by Selena Templeton, love and relationship expert.