It seems the list of must-have traits is ever evolving, sometimes shrinking, sometimes growing, sometimes just going through a complete transformation. I recall as a teenager it was all about having fun and who was attractive, with little care for much else. Nothing was serious and it seemed there were so many years ahead to worry about that stuff.
Then the twenties came and the list started to really take form. Thoughts of relationships and long term crept into the mind and with every relationship the list got more and more refined. It seemed everything was important – how tall they were, who they hung out with, what food they liked, how they traveled, if they were funny, how clean their house was, etc. The list was long… like grocery list for an entire family reunion long. Though at the time it seemed totally appropriate, everything was a must have. Time was on your side and this person must be perfect if you’re to settle down for the next 60+ years with them.
Then the thirties hit and the list under went it’s largest transformation. The decade started with the laundry list of every possible thing under the sun to be compatible on and as each year went by, items dropped. You meet an awesome guy/gal that defies one or more things and you realize those items don’t matter. Rinse and repeat, until the list becomes so small you wonder why on earth so many things we’re must-have during the twenties. Did it really matter that they were less than 30 min drive away? That they’d never been married? That they loved Mexican food? No, it didn’t really matter.
My wise aunt who has been happily married for the last 25+ years is a firm believer that there should only really be 3 must haves. If I had heard that in my 20s or even early 30s there’s no way I would have bought in. It is life and relationships that teach the value of the statement and the weight in truth to what she said.
So then comes the question, if you could only have 3 attributes what would they be? Hers were sense of humor, integrity, and respect. She found those. There’s a lot to be said for that. It is interesting to think about this in light of online dating and all the questions they ask (eHarmony, Match, Ok Cupid, etc.). Are they really just assessing values against a handful of criteria that they use for matching? If so, why wouldn’t real life mirror it.
Is a deep attraction important? Is integrity important? Is travel important? Same love language? It seems to take quite a bit of self reflection to really narrow down what traits are important for life. Just imagine if you centered around 3-4 core traits and looked for compatible partners that embodied those, would the little annoyances be easier to look past because you knew you got the person with the major items on your list? I think mine would have to be (1) capable, (2) integrity, (3) loving, and (4) attractive. Though I think with every relationship start/middle/end, sometimes it can bias the list depending on recent learnings, for better or worse. In any case, I guess it’s really up to you and what you truly believe will bring you closer to your forever love.