Monday, February 9, 2009

Your Best Valentine

This Saturday is Valentine’s Day – a trumped-up Hallmark holiday or a day for people to let out their inner romantic? Either way, it certainly gets the typical single guy or gal thinking about his or her elusive other half. Most single people have a list – either mental or written – of what they are looking for in a partner. A typical list might start with the standard sought after traits like “attractive, fit, smart, funny, successful, confident, interesting, caring, kind …” and then get into such specifics like “outdoorsy, into cooking, loves chihuahuas, rockstar in bed …”

In my view, lists are fine – they can help make a desire more tangible and serve as a good reference point for when someone is really not up to par. Of course, the obvious problem with lists can arise when one is simply wedded to a list that is inflexible or unrealistic.

Most people are aware of the new phenomenon which has occurred on facebook where people list 25 things about themselves and then pass the request on to friends. I’ve read a few that have been extremely funny and others that have been yawn-inducing, or worse, have left me with the thought that some people need to spend their time doing something other than making lists. Reading these lists, a thought occurred to me … what if every single person took out their lists of what they are looking for in a partner and actually analyzed what’s on them asking themselves two questions: (1) is this requirement truly important to my happiness with another person? and (2) would I make the cut if this were someone else’s list?

In regard to the first question, everyone knows at least one person (friend, ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, sister or brother) whose list has some ridiculous criteria on it that their loving and all knowing friends and family realize will never lead this person to the relationship utopia they seek. Maybe it’s the guy who’s always seeking out the head-turning bombshell who, for whatever reason, is never going to be throwing her digits his way unless he’s dangling the carrot of a trip to St. Barts next weekend (who is doing that these days anyway you might ask – fair question). Or maybe it’s the girl whose list includes a height entry that requires a full foot of distance between her and her price charming after she’s donned her 3 ½ inch heals. Why are these things important for some people? I’m sure everyone has their own fully rational answers that any therapist worth his or her salt can get to the heart of after a session or two.*

However, I think question number 2 calls for even far more interesting soul searching. Would you pass your own list? Are you the person you would want to be with? If you place a high priority on someone being in shape and active and yet find yourself on the couch watching reality show reruns instead of hitting the gym, maybe it’s time to rethink the gospel. If one’s list artfully describes a well-traveled, adventurous renaissance woman but the author of said list is waiting for the right woman to come along before he goes to any of the places he wants to see before he dies, he should - he must - ask himself would this woman, should she materialize, be interested in dating him anyway? I know this may sound harsh but a little dose of reality is needed these days.

In my line of work I am constantly hearing from people about the type of person they are looking to meet. Ultimately, pretty much everyone’s wish list includes one common thread: they are looking for someone who is genuinely happy with him or herself and not looking for someone else to make him or her happy. In fact, happiness with one’s self and where one is in his or her life actually transcends so many features on the wish lists, the list could almost start and stop right there. This Valentine’s Day, be the person on your list and next Valentine’s Day who knows … you might be making up a very different kind of list (hint: this one includes Aunt Bertha and Uncle Harry).

*As long as we are including the origins of expressions (see prior blog), the phrase “worth your salt” comes from Roman times when soldiers would get paid for work in salarium, an allowance for the purchase of salt which was considered good for health but a hard commodity to find at the time. Hence the modern word “salary.”


  1. Great post Marni and very TRUE. I'm looking forward to your benefit on Saturday!

  2. Yes....great blog Marni! It certainly gives one lots to think about. I'm really sorry to miss your Valentine's event. I will be showing my love to a widowed aunt by taking her to dinner and a concert.