I was cleaning up my gmail and there it was-Your folder, the one I’d been hanging on to for a year. I don’t know why I was hanging on to them. That’s a lie. I hang on to them because I’m a hopeless romantic. We would never get back together, but knowing that I was loved by you brings me comfort, no matter how much you hurt me. Your love was a gift. You are flawed, imperfect, and hurtful, but your love was still a gift. I like remembering that. I like knowing that I was loved once. It gives me hope that it will happen again. So, over a lukewarm tea and under fluorescent lights, I dusted the virtual cobwebs off Your folder.
There they were-your emails. All 467 of them. Some were long. Some were silly. Some were hurtful. Some pointed to all the signs I chose not to see. I realized we’d broken up 365 days ago and I couldn’t believe it had been so long. It feels like just yesterday I was staring at my phone, waiting for you to return my calls, texts, emails. You never did. You just slipped away in silence, one of the most hurtful things anyone has ever done to me. I wish we had broken up in a screaming match at the airport or in tears at dinner, but it didn’t and all I could remember was that feeling-the pit of despair and the deafening silence. The sound of my own sobs were the only thing that comforted me and I wished I could have traveled back in time to tell my crying self that everything is going to be okay. It’s so hard to remember that when you’re in the middle of hurting-you think it’s never going to stop and you can’t remember how you felt before you hurt.
I was about to feel sorry for myself when I realized that I was giving energy to something that doesn’t deserve it, so I shifted my focus. I carry my journal around a lot. One day I sat down and thought about what I want from a relationship. What I really want. And I wrote it in pen, which was so scary, because now I have to hold myself accountable when I find myself pursuing relationships that are not what I want, but that’s a good thing, because it means that I am not willing to settle. 365 days ago I was willing to settle. Not anymore. I believe that The Universe has a funny way of working and that it listens when you put a genuine request out there, so I am going to share my wants, which is pretty scary. But maybe someone will stumble upon this post and say “Hey, that’s me!” or someone else will read this and say “That’s my amazing friend _______!”
The top 25 things I want from a relationship (in no particular order):
1. Laughter. If I can’t laugh with someone, I can’t be with them. Life is ridiculous and I need to laugh. I laugh at myself, I laugh at life, I want to be with someone who has a contagious energy and lives to laugh. I’m talking knee-slapping, tear wiping, snorting laughter.
2. Travel. I love to travel-it’s part of who I am. I love exploring new places, seeing other people’s culture, experiencing new things. I don’t want to do that alone.
3. Adventure. Adventure doesn’t have to mean jumping out of a plane, but it does mean pushing yourself past your comfort zone. It can be trying a new activity, lke ballroom dancing lessons or karaoke or a last-minute weekend getaway. I fear boredom.
4. Consistency/Stability. I need to be able to count on you. I need you to be my rock. I need to know what to expect from you. Flighty, flakey, moody, unpredictable people terrify me. I want to know at the end of the day that you are going to be you.
5. Communication. I need for us to be able to put things out there. Verbal. Written. Non-verbal/body language. Affection. I want to be told and shown that I matter to you. I need for us to get really raw and vulnerable and open with each other. I want us to call each other out on our bullshit, because there will be plenty. I want it to be okay to say what I’m feeling with you and I want to know that we can do it in a constructive way.
6. Growth. I don’t want to be boring with you. I don’t want to stop learning. I want to keep getting better and better together. I want us to push each other and cheer each other on and I want us to evolve together. In the past I have chosen people that I will inevitably outgrow. I don’t want to outgrow you.
7. Financial Stability. I don’t need to be rich, but I need to be comfortable and I need us to make wise financial decisions together. I want to know that we’re responsible and taken care of. I don’t want to worry about money with anyone. I don’t worry about money on my own; I won’t do it with someone else.
8. Family. I don’t have one, so I kind of hope you do. They don’t need to be perfect or normal, but I’d love to be one with your family. A perk of being with me is that you’ll never have to spend the holidays with my family and you’ll never have a crazy mother-in-law! I also want to create a sense of family with you. Maybe we’ll have kids. Maybe we don’t. But we’ll have friends who are just as good (maybe better) than family and we’ll be our nieces and nephews favourite “Aunt” and “Uncle”.
9. Home. A place to return to. A place that’s safe. A place that’s beautiful, warm, and welcoming. A place that cultivates creativity and oozes “Us.”
10. Romance. Romance doesn’t come in the form of diamonds or roses, but it comes in the form of a post-it on the bathroom mirror that says “I love you. You are beautiful.” It comes in the form of giving me your hoodie when I’m cold. It means holding hands in public. It means opening the car door up for me and it means buying me flowers “just because” and knowing that I love sunflowers. It means surprising me with tea in bed or a home cooked meal at the end of a business trip. I will go so far out of my way for you. Please do the same for me.
11. Philanthropy. Because of what I do, I need you to grow a moustache. I need us to give back to the community. I need to make the world a better place with you.
12. Admiration. I want to think you are the cat’s meow. I want to be able to tell everyone how amazing you are. How smart you are. How friggin cool you are. I need you to be able to accompany me at awards ceremonies and I want to cheer you on, as well.
13. Healthy Lifestyle. Holy cow. I never realized how many people treat their bodies like shit until I started dating. Please don’t treat your body like a trash can. Let’s walk places. Let’s cook meals together. Let’s never eat fast food. Let’s buy organic groceries, watch documentaries on food to keep us in-the-know. Let’s meditate together (or apart), let’s take care of ourselves and go to the doctor and the dentist.
14. Animals. I love animals. I need to have a four-legged friend. Preferably a French Bulldog. Let’s adopt a dog or two and have animals in our lives.
15. Safety/Security. I need to know you have my back. I need to know that you’ll defend me from others and myself if I get into a bad place. This means sticking up for me. It means you always want to keep me safe from harm. It means you won’t drive recklessly and put me in danger. It means you will walk on the part of the sidewalk closest to the street.
16. Genuineness. It means you will be open and real and invested in our relationship. That you will respect the trust we have built and if you get to a point where you don’t want to be an Us anymore, you will have the courage to tell me to my face and not be a coward.
17. Respect/Trust. I need to know that you will respect the boundaries of a relationship, that you will be faithful and if there is something you need, you will speak up to me first and give me the opportunity to fulfill what you need before you look for it elsewhere. It means I can go on a business trip or away for a girl’s weekend and I don’t need to babysit you and I know our relationship will be right where I left it. I know that if we ever got married that you would wear your wedding ring everyday, everywhere, even when times are tough.
18. Reciprocity. I am going to put a lot into this relationship. I hope you are, too.
19. Nerdiness. Nothing is sexier than playing Scrabble together or reading the New York Times in bed or talking about what we read in The Atlantic or listened to on NPR on the way to work.
20. Music/Art. Culture is a huge part of my life. Let’s make each other mix tapes. Let’s buy art. Let’s have memberships to our favourite museums and see live music.
21. Balance. Let’s not forget who we are. Let’s not forget our friends. Let’s not lose our hobbies. Let’s have alone time and time apart. Let’s work hard and use all of our vacation time.
23. Effort. I don’t want us to get lazy with each other. I don’t want us to take each other or our relationship for granted. I don’t want to fear losing you, but I sure want to work hard to keep you. I know there are other women out there and I am willing to put the time, energy, and love to continue to make you mine. I want you to fall in love with me again every day. Or at least 350 days a year. I want to put makeup on for you. I want to look pretty for you. I want us to make sure we shower on the weekends instead of hanging out in our sweatpants and I want us to brush our teeth before bed every night. I don’t want to let myself go just because I have you and I want you to try, too.
24. Inclusiveness. Let’s invite our friends and family into our lives. Let’s ask for help when we need it. Let’s rely on the wisdom of others to help us have a relationship that lasts. Let’s be open and loving to the people around us.
25. Creativity. All over. In our lives, in our hobbies, in the bedroom. Let’s never settle for something boring or average.
I would say that 365 days later, I am a lot stronger. I know what I want a lot more now than I did then, but it’s still a work in progress. That was a lot of sharing. I’m uh…..going to go hide under the bed now.