What makes a man the perfect guy?
Well, the things that count the most in long-term relationships aren't often impressive upon first glance. The image of my perfect man was crystal clear in my mind throughout my 20's...or so I thought.
I knew he would be tall, exceptionally kind, funny, romantic. I knew he would be ambitious and smart and come from a solid family background. I could smell the roses he would bring me whenever I was sad. I could feel the warmth of his arms around me every night as we slept in our perfectly comfortable dwelling. He would be impressively handsome and I would know immediately that he was the one.
Mom issues? Nah.
Unprofitable career? Nah.
Baby mama? Hell nah.
Then, something happened. As I approached my 30's, I started feeling like maybe this dating thing wasn't as easy as Girlfriends and Sex in the City made it seem. You don't just come across these specimens of perfection walking down the street. For one reason or another, my relationships turned into micro-experiences that ended mostly because none of these guys fit into his image in my mind.
A lot has changed since I curated the perfect man in my head.
I survived my 20's with my heart in tact and married a man I called (and still call) my best friend. We had a beautiful child together but eventually ended our marriage - so much for perfection. Suddenly, as I dove back into the dating world, I realized that I was now exactly what I had been running from. I was a woman with a past that someone would have to look beyond in order to get to know me. I learned a valuable lesson about what really matters in relationships and why some of us might actually be overlooking our blessings.
His Past Will Not Define Him
So, what if the potential bae in your life comes with baggage?
Looking for a man who didn't have a single familial issue proved to be challenging. I dated guys from the hood and guys who went to Ivy League colleges and not a single one could reflect on their parents flawlessly.
Growing up unscathed may not even be something that exists - at least not in the black community.
We are all greatly impacted by our childhoods. Instead of looking at the "what," I took a deeper look at the "why."
If he endured physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a parent, is he aware of the work he has to do in order to move past that damage in a healthy way? Instead of looking for a man who had a perfect history - because Lord knows, I certainly didn't - I looked for the man who was self-aware enough to commit to being an ever-evolving work in progress.
Good on Paper, Bad in Bed?
Here's a deal-breaker for you.
What happens when he's pretty much perfect but the sexual chemistry is off? I found myself pulling back in the beginning stages of dating just in case the sex was whack. The truth of the matter is, chemistry is automatic but sex is a process. Learning each other's bodies and sexual preferences takes time. Hinging an entire future with someone on the first few romps in the sack could eliminate the very person who is meant for you. I learned to define what a good sex life actually is. Simply, open and honest communication about what pleases each of you and the willingness to give it a try.
When it comes to creating the perfect sexual partner - practice makes perfect.
Text Back vs Got Your Back
So what if his text back game is garbage?
Here's the thing about men who can't handle digital communication - a lot of us can't handle it. Texting back is not an indicator that a man is interested in you. Instead, maybe it's an indicator that texting is kind of irritating and no one wants to be a slave to instant communication. While women are generally strong communicators, men typically like to keep it simple.
I've had so many friends tell me they have given up on a guy because he never hits her back. The game of text-tag that happens in today's digital atmosphere can be exhausting. But think about the long-term. Do you really want a boyfriend who texts you every five minutes? Most of the time, worrying about the text back is an indicator of insecurity and maybe the assumption that if he's not texting you - he's texting someone else.
Here's The Secret No One Wants To Tells You
The most valuable lesson I learned was this - the best man for you is very often the least exciting on paper. That unattainable guy you've had a crush on for years who never quite seems to be ready to settle down? Let that go. Long-term relationships are not full of exciting days and wild nights. They are full of ups and downs and highs and lows - and what matters most is finding a place of understanding with someone. The partner that's going to see through all of that with you is going to be someone who isn't with you just to be entertained. He'll be settled, sure of himself, and not up for constantly proving his admiration. In short - he might be a little boring.
Okay, but let me explain what I mean by "boring."
I've had the jet-setter boyfriend, the rich boyfriend, the popular boyfriend who always has something exciting going on. Those guys are fun to date, but settling in for the long haul is a different story. Eventually, I learned (the hard way) that there are two types of men.
There are the “instant gratification" men. The guys who wow you in bed the first night, impress you with phenomenal text-back skills, and basically bring their A-game for the first few weeks of dating. Then, there are the “slow release" men. They take their time, they know their worth, they pursue but don't chase, and they very often save the best for last.
The problem with having that prince-charming list is that it eliminates the need to get to know someone and just use your gut. Instead, you check things off one-by-one and if they don't add up, you lose hope. But, not everyone looks good on paper, and that doesn't mean they won't be good to your heart.
Dating is fun, but long-term relationships are the product of learning and growing together and focusing on what's most important. Decide what you really want - fun now or stability later? Invest in that. But be sure to manage your expectations along the way.