by Aditi Paul
Not too long ago, I received dating advice from a woman who had quite a successful marital life. She said, “Aditi, you should write down 100 things you want in your man.” For her, finding the right guy shouldn’t be left to wishful thinking. It should be a committed and systematic process.
So there I was, scribbling down to the most excruciating detail what I wanted in Mr. Right — from physical aspects to personality traits and everything in between. He must be tall, have a sexy accent, be passionate about what he does and be highly educated. I was the Michelangelo of my love life and I was committed to finding my David!
Halle-freakin’-lujah! A dozen dates, a doctoral degree, and a move to the big city later, I finally met him. For the sake of this story, let’s call him Mr. Big, because I’m secretly obsessed with “Sex and the City.”
My relationship with Mr. Big was magical. The initial part of our courtship was what barf-worthy stuff sappy romantic movies are made of — from a kiss at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park to cooking together and all the other bells and whistles of a perfect New York romance! What was best is that he checked out on almost close to 90 percent of The List!
Finally, I had found the right guy.
[Read Related: What Happens When You Write About Dating in a Culture Where Relationships are Taboo]
I should have been over-the-moon, jumping-out-of-joy, the-envy-of- all-my-single-friends level happy, right? Wrong. By the second month into this courtship, I started harboring these negative feelings of disturbance and discontent inside me. I wasn’t happy. But, why?
You see, you can be with a guy who has everything you ever dreamed of (and more). But, there comes a point in the relationship when you need to stop and think: How do you feel in this relationship? How are you responding to this union?
This was a crude reality check when I realized that I was no longer me in the relationship. I was turning into this person who was mutating herself to become the version that Mr. Big liked. There were things Mr. Big did and did not appreciate about myself, and I caught myself making changes in my life to incorporate those things just to get his approval.
What’s worse, some of these changes were completely dissonant with my authentic self. I realized, In my quest to find him, I had lost myself… and that was keeping me from my joy. It was time to left swipe.
So what was the lesson learned from Relationship 101 with Mr. Big? I now understand the difference between the “Right Guy” and the “Right Guy For Me.” Before moving into my next relationship, I will include a very important person in it: myself. I want to list 100 things I want for myself in the relationship. How would I like myself to feel in the relationship? How would I like him to make me feel in the relationship?
And it goes both ways. Now, that’s important.
Was it scary to move on from the seemingly perfect Right Guy? Oh, you bet, the #fomo was real! But, here’s the deal: I’d rather be known as the girl who showed courage in loving her honest true self than the girl who pandered for perfection.
Aditi Paul is an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Pace University. She tries to find out how strangers become friends and lovers with people they meet online, all in the name of academic research. When she is not professing, you will find her pretending to be a singer and a guitar player on SoundCloud.