I remember having a conversation about marriage with a friend when I was 23. At the time, I thought the worst thing in the world was to be single beyond 25. I told him this and he laughed. But I was serious. Now I look back and laugh. I'm glad that I didn't rush into anything then, that I had the presence of mind and the ability to extricate myself from some of my past relationships. Even though I've left plenty of ex-boyfriend carnage in my wake. I had more to learn; more to experience. I can and have accepted that it was not my fate to marry young. And independent of what I was taught, I don't believe it was really my desire either. It can be difficult to reconcile who we were taught to be with who we really are. Based on this, it's sometimes hard to accept myself as I am. I'm getting there.
I've spent the past four years working with survivors of domestic violence and providing community education about healthy relationships. I know how easy it is to end up in a bad situation. No one chooses to be abused, but we are all capable of choosing to harm those we love. Many people around me decided to blame my being single on the work I was doing; in reality the work made me more appreciative of the many many many good men that I know. The work made me smarter and bolder and more aware and more careful, but not fearful. Never fearful. I know there are reasons for everything. I really want a family, but it hasn't happened yet. God knows why. I trust Him.
After many years of dating I've learned a lot (I hope) and can now identify some of the things I need in a relationship instead of the massive lists of wants and requirements and conditions that I used to carry around in my head. I've dismissed and refused people for really stupid reasons. I like to think I'm much more open and tolerant now.
I know better than to ask a partner for things that I'm not willing to strive for and give in return.
These are the things I need. In no particular order.
I need companionship. I'm not as happy alone as I like to pretend.
I need to fall in love deeply.
I need a partner who understands that love is an action word and that it takes maintenance.
I need a partner who is physically and verbally affectionate.
I need a partner who seeks God.
I need a partner who sees me as his equal and behaves accordingly.
I need a partner who understands that I cannot fix him and he cannot fix me; but that we can offer each other enough love and support to allow us to heal together.
I need a partner who respects that I will not give up my autonomy, family, friends, interests, or hobbies for him. Nor will I ask that he do so for me.
I need a partner with enough personal baggage and experience to make him compassionate, patient, and forgiving.
I need a partner who knows that "whole" doesn't mean "perfect."
I need a partner who is always honest and loyal: to both himself and me.
I need a partner strong enough to stand up to me.
I need a partner kind enough to stand up to me.
I need a partner bonkers enough to live with me.
I need a partner wise enough to love me.
I need a partner who respects my experiences.
I need children. At least 3.
I need a partner who will take an active and equal role in raising our children.
I need a partner who is teachable and embraces change.
I need a partner who can handle disappointment.
I need a partner who does not blame others for his problems and mistakes.
I need a partner who is accountable for his choices.
I'll leave it there for now.