In the past week I’ve talked to three fabulous women about how the men they’re meeting lack the qualities they want in a mate. Turns out none of them have ever devoted time to getting a genuine and deep sense of what they want and need in a man and in a relationship.
They have the usual list of traits: honesty, integrity, humor. But their list doesn’t go much deeper than a bunch of adjectives. It doesn’t address the feelings they want to feel or the type of relationship they want. And, more importantly, all of them are working from a vision they created many years ago.
Well, ladies, here’s my advice: It’s time you pick your men based on the accomplished, experienced, and wise woman you are today. Get rid of that vision you’ve carried around since you were 18 or 20 or even 35. You’ve lived and learned a lot. Time to revisit and replace your story of a “perfect man” with a grownup version that actually exists and will satisfy you as a grownup woman.
Before you can recognize your Mr. I Love You — the man who is good for you and makes you feel the way you want and deserve to feel — you have to be consciously aware of your needs, of what makes you happy, and of what you can’t accept.
This is a three-step exercise I give my clients to help them get clarity about this. If you’re dating, I strongly encourage you to do this.
Step 1: Spend Time with Your Man
Find a chunk of time (at least 30 minutes) and a quiet place to do this exercise. Be sure to update it as you learn more about yourself and about men.
You’re going to create a vision of yourself with your ideal mate at an ideal place, feeling happy and fulfilled. He makes you feel good about your life and yourself, and you love being around him. You feel safe, loved, and valued for exactly who you are. You’re with him in a place that you share, doing something you enjoy doing together: something where you can talk and interact.
What are you two doing? Are you reading on the couch, cooking, frolicking in bed, entertaining friends, hiking, or maybe floating down the Seine in Paris? If it helps to develop the picture, put yourself in a couple different places and situations with him.
What is he like? Is he bold, introspective, gentle, energetic, thoughtful, confident? Is he telling jokes, reading you poetry, talking about his day at work, or asking your opinions on Buddhism? What does he do to you, for you, and with you that makes you feel good about yourself? How are you interacting with each other? How does he give and receive? What does he care about? Do you see what he looks like? Can you hear his tone of voice and how he communicates with you? How is he looking at you?
What feelings do you have: not just for him, but about yourself? Do you have a huge smile on your face? Are you laughing hysterically, or are you calm and at peace? Is he keeping you on your toes, or are you completely relaxed? Are you feeling feminine, confident, understood, admired, vulnerable, in charge?
Once you can see him and describe who he is and how you feel with him — once you “spend time with him” — write down his qualities, what you saw, and how you felt. Do it in as much detail as possible. Write in whatever form you prefer: journal the story, write down words and phrases, draw pictures — whatever allows you to easily recall and describe all aspects of your experiences and feelings with this man. Extra points if you share your vision with a trusted friend!
A very important note: What you see during this exercise should be the meaningful and impactful qualities he has and the feelings you have with him. I don’t expect you to be aware of every detail about this wonderful man; I wouldn’t want you to. You may not see what he looks like, have a sense of his politics, or know whether he prefers drama or comedy. That’s perfectly fine. If you don’t see it, it’s probably not that important to you.