I have now dated (or at least gone on a date or two with) all kinds of guys: athletes, nerds, rich guys, poor guys, geniuses, academically challenged and as hippie dippy artsy as they come, as well as painfully type A as the Financial District will breed. But for a long time, I totally admit that I had a type, that type being the product of my checklist of about 20 things – everything from parents who are still together and a university degree, to a good job, preferably a sister, and even standing within a certain height. Blondes and bony guys were out of the equation and a guitar and a motorcycle helped his cause. Many of us do it; just ask your single friends what exactly it is they are looking for in a partner. And yes, I admit, once upon a time my own list of requirements encompassed the good, bad, ugly and the superficial of my very blonde and naïve mid-twenties brain. Once I grew the hell up and finally realized what matters in life, I abandoned the list and willed myself to open my mind and jaded heart up to other possibilities. In doing so, I realized that in any relationship – whether with the starving artist or big shot lawyer – you only need three essential things for happiness and sustainability… and those three things are all that remain of the former checklist.
The idea that a great relationship centres on chemistry is, of course, nothing new. But I can’t tell you the ridiculous number of young professional couples I see who blatantly seem to lack it and are dating because it seems to make sense on paper or to their grandchild-craving parents. Obviously, chemistry means memorable, passionate, very “into it” sex and romantic movie-like makeout sessions. But a physical chemistry doesn’t have to be purely sexual either. Do you ever notice how there are some people whose arms you just can’t get comfortable in, no matter how into them you are? You don’t fit together. On the flip side, there are others whose bodies seem designed to spoon and snuggle perfectly with yours, with their chest a better pillow than any you own. Affection is such a huge part of any healthy relationship – it can’t be forced. Chemistry also means the same type of bond that you share with your best friend, in everything from that same sick sense of humour to just getting each other on an intellectual level. Even as the physical chemistry sadly (yet somehow depressingly inevitably) begins to fade with time, you need someone whose brain, energy and personality you can still feed off (and vice versa), someone who will stimulate you today and 25 years from now.
When I refer to comfort, I don’t mean that broken-in type of knowing someone so well that you can burp in front of him or her and go to the bathroom with the door open. It is about how the other person makes you feel about yourself. The best match is someone who not only allows you to sit totally comfortably in your own skin and to be your true self – every quirky flaw and grimy detail – but the best version of yourself (as after school special as that sounds). I have seen the egos of more females than you’d imagine crushed at the hands of dismissive or controlling men. I’ve seen the most desirable guy in university turn to a complete, whipped pushover as well. You never want to feel like you are constantly auditioning to become or remain someone’s girlfriend (or boyfriend), in a perpetual state of anxiety or worry about what they think or about the relationship in general. Comfort also obviously means being comfortable with one another, in everything from communication and the subsequent ability to catch and manage problems before they escalate. The easiest test of comfort is to simply ask yourself how he or she makes you feel about yourself. One ex made me feel like an annoying chore half of the time, while another made me feel like the most beautiful and precious female on the planet. You do the math, it’s really that easy.
This sense of comfort goes hand in hand with a sense of inner calm. Of course, he or she should excite you and get your blood pumping, but I’ve learned that happiness is really about your level of inner peace when you are with that person. As a slightly high strung individual, I am always amazed by how calm and content I find myself around a certain someone these days – an unlikely suspect no less, and someone who is the total opposite of my last boyfriend in every way on earth. And that calm makes him difficult to quit. With our crazy jobs and never-stopping cities, your significant other should be your safe, calm place, whose company offers a comforting solace from the rest of your hectic life. This is about a mutual exchange of this energy, and with such a sense of calm it is difficult to get too worked up in an argument. He or she may indeed be a calm individual themselves (energy levels are contagious after all), or the security and love they offer may truly make all your stress and problems not seem so consuming. We’ve seen the worst of the nervous wrecks rendered calm and a normal, functioning human again under the influence of that right person.
Every essential ingredient in any healthy relationship, from commitment to mutual respect and challenge, is a result of one or a combo of the above. It doesn’t matter what car he drives, or whether she cooks, or how amazing the other looks on paper. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve known each other forever a la Dawson and Joey. It’s about the three Cs. If you’ve found them, we suggest you stick with it.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)