Going on a Lot of Crappy First Dates? Maybe This is Why:

When I think about what high school Lauren wanted in a guy it went something like this:

  • Wears crisp button downs
  • Plays guitar
  • Gels his hair
  • Smells like Abercrombie Fierce
  • Is sensitive but just emo enough to be “complicated” and need fixing. Probably from me.
  • Calls me cute and cheesy nicknames (the guy who called me Honey Bunny really hit the nail on the head with this one)

When I think about what 26-year-old Lauren wants in a guy, it goes something like this:

  • The Abercrombie Fierce part can stay. I’m still a sucker for that scent
  • I don’t hate hair gel, even though I should at my age, probably
  • Button downs are cool too
  • I like musicians, but if you’re still trying to make it big as an artist and you’re between the ages of 26-34, then maybe that’s not great. I’d prefer a steady, stable career
  • Has a great sense of humor
  • Is well-educated
  • Good command over the English language. Laugh it up, but this is hard to find, tragically enough
  • Is passionate about his career, but doesn’t let it dominate his life
  • Has interests and hobbies and a life, and appreciates that I do too

What 26-year-old Lauren has realized that 17-year-old Lauren clearly hadn’t is this: desirable traits in a partner extend beyond how you want them to dress and what you want them to smell like. You have to look at the overall picture. And you have to have a few non-negotiables about that picture. Those non-negotiables are really personal. Some people say it’s dumb to only want to date someone taller than you, but if you’re simply not physically attracted to someone on the shorter side, then that’s your prerogative. 5445777501_041c12da0c_zIt’s not dumb if it’s something that matters to you.

If you constantly find yourself dating the “wrong” people, it could be because you haven’t really taken the time to figure out what you want and what you find attractive in a guy/girl.

Do you want someone who’s religious or would you prefer someone who isn’t particularly invested in religion? Do you want someone who is closely tied to his family or does that not matter? Do you want someone who is super passionate about his career or would you rather have someone who does what he needs to do to be financially stable but leaves work at work? There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s. It’s all about what floats your boat and finds your lost remote.

It’s easy to let friends or family or advice columns tell you about what the “right” partner will have. They’ll have these traits and view work this way and have this kind of relationship with their mom and blah blah blah. In reality, that’s all BS. Not everyone finds the same traits appealing, thank God, or we’d all be dating the same people. You just have to spend some time thinking about what you like in a person. My friend calls it knowing “what checks your boxes” and I love that phrase. If they check your boxes, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

Sometimes the things you think you want are actually just pointing out other traits that you haven’t quite identified as non-negotiables yet. For example, you think you want someone who’s built like a tree, but maybe you’re really just looking to feel safe and protected. You think you want a career-focused person, but you actually just like it when your partner is really passionate about something, even if that something is a hobby.

If you’re going on a lot of crappy first dates, it’s worth it to write out a list of the must-have traits you need from a partner. And don’t settle until you find them, even if you start to feel weird about being single. It’s better to wait and find someone who you think is all that and a bag of chips (sorry, trying to bring that phrase back, don’t think it’s working) instead of just someone who will do for now.

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