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The Mythical Check List

February 17th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last night I had the privilege of sitting and speaking on a panel about relationships for the New York chapter of the National Urban League, alongside Jamilah of The Beautiful Struggler, Adam, and my good friend Demetria of A Belle In Brooklyn.

Don’t ask me why I was on there, clearly the people at the NYULP are geniuses, so there’s your answer. But I digress…

At one point the question was posed to both Adam and I about our thoughts on women who have a check list of sorts for the men they date. Most people know what I’m talking about. The check list is something a lot of men and women have in mind before they actually start dating someone. It varies from person to person, but on any given list such must-haves in a mate can include good credit, a height of at least 6’0 or better, a good job, a degree, great in bed, etc.

Of all the questions we were given, this was the one I was most anxious to answer,  because I basically don’t believe it. I said as much yesterday, but for today’s post, I wanted to get into the nitty gritty of why this mythical check list is just that, a myth.

I believe everyone has a type, an ideal man or woman they would like to date, so when I say I don’t believe in the check list, I don’t mean to say it doesn’t exist. What I am saying is no woman has ever applied it to me, at least not literally.

As I said to the audience last night, I don’t think I have ever been an ideal type of man for any woman who has dated me. I stand at 6’0 legit, but there have been women I have dated who were a little bit taller than me (I love tall women, what can I say?). There have been women who always date doctors and lawyers, but then decided to date me, a writer. I have dated women who were older than me, made more money than me, and women who love to tell me they have never dated someone like me before in their life (whatever that means).

So then if I don’t meet the requirements listed on a woman’s mental sheet (or should I say sheets?) of paper, how do I get in where I fit in? Easily. It’s all in the approach.

The way I see it, the way I have always seen it, is my best chances of staying around for a while begin with how I step to a woman. If I come correct and she’s not interested, then who knows? Whatever the reason the woman I approach has turned down my advances, are hers to have, but I know it wasn’t because she saw my credit score.

What does my credit score have to do with anything when I just met a woman? Absolutely nothing. Ditto for all these other “must haves”. All that matters is I’m right there, talking to her right then, and she either is feeling this thing we have going on or she isn’t.

Things like a credit score, whether or not I have health insurance, and how much income I have coming in aren’t really relevant to any woman I’m dating until we’re in a relationship. When my funds become her funds, than we can worry about, well, my funds. But until then, asking me whether or not I have kids (I don’t) after meeting me in the first five minutes is going to send me all types of wrong signals, because if I say no, and she likes that answer, I am going to assume I’m one step closer to bagging her. Why else would she ask, right?

What I believe  is if two people have a strong foundation, then whatever they had on their check list in the beginning can be erased. It was a valuable lesson I learned in my last relationship when I fell into some money problems.

Since my ex and I were living together, we split responsibilities on the bills, and my main responsibility was the rent. We agreed upon her moving in, she would pay 1/3, and I would pay the other 2/3.

Before she moved in, I was struggling at the time to make rent, and I actually fell behind by a month, but I never told her because frankly, I was embarrassed. Why? I don’t know, it’s not like she was ever one to care about money in the first place, but because I believed all women do care a little bit about how much their man makes, I never really discussed what I made with her.

One day, when we got home from work (we used to meet up after the work day to commute home together), there was a notice on my door, which basically said I need to come up with the money or we would be out of there in no time. Of course, my ex was upset, but not for reasons I thought she would be. While I was feeling all embarrassed about my financial state, and apologizing for not making enough money to hold down the fort like I told her I would, my ex wasn’t even taking issue with such matters.

As she explained to me, the thing that disappointed her the most wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t bringing home the bacon, so to speak. What upset her the most was I didn’t tell her the truth about what was really going on, and to her, it was a demonstration of my not trusting her. In other words,  she wasn’t upset over some superficial item on a mythical check list (Requirement No 5: Must make X amount of money per year). She was upset because I violated a very fundamental thing, and that was being open and honest about everything.

I’m sure some women out there care very much about things like good credit and how much a person makes per year, but I would hardly say such things are written in stone. More like pencil, and any man worth his weight, can be an eraser. Like Biggie once said, all I really want to know when I meet her is, “Ask you what your interest are? Who you be with? Things to make you smile. What numbers to dial? You gonna be here for a while?”

That’s all I need to know. The rest will come in due time.

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  • Sunkissed404

    First?! Wow. Very interesting. I think the word checklist can be synonymous with standards. We all have them (checklist), they are just subconscious. I think it’s necessary to ask questions about children, but I can definitely attest to subconsciously hoping the man I just met is not a criminal (reformed thug, maybe..)<– You know how us good girls do.

  • J.Delicious

    I must admit that I agree. When I have met a man who didn’t have the things on my “checklist” he grew to have them (ie. he landed an internship/job) or I became to prefer what he had to offer (ie. height ain’t nothin’ but a number).

  • J.Delicious

    Oh and “”I’m gon’ call my crew. You gon’ call your crew. We can rendezvous at the bar, around 2”

  • sistertoldja

    Good post! I’ve disagreed with a lot of things you’ve written before, but I’m with this. I don’t think most women have this check list and I appreciate the worth “mythical” because I believe that the myth of the list has a lot of men looking at us sideways for no reason. I “prefer” alpha males, can’t recall the last one I dated. People may have preferences or even fantasies, but *most* of us are still open to something else good when it comes along.

  • Sunkissed404

    Hmmmm…J.Deli–, some room can be made for the “potentials”, so I see where you are coming from. I have to admit, I do try to visualize the guys I meet where they can be, not where they are–>potential. However, sometimes timing is everything. I guess a lot of the situations are relative to where you are in your life or what you are looking for. If you are looking for something serious, then some of the questions you preface your conversation with may be necessary. (Hate to make is sound like a job interview, but…) I think asking a person their credit score is reaching. But, other questions such as where you work, etc should not be too invasive.

  • HES

    There is a saying that men love the women to whom they are attracted and women are attracted to the men they love. Lists are like that; we all have preferences, but they are often (and sometimes, easily) changed by what/whom is front of us. I am into a guy who meets a handful of the items on my “list,” but he meets the most important ones: attraction and interest. I am attracted to him, and he can hold my interest. That means the other things on my list matter less … at least for now.

  • http://sleep-is-the-cousin-of-death.blogspot.com/ Tunde

    i agree that there are some things that can be erased off a checklist but there are some things that are written in permanent ink and have no way of coming off. true most of these things don’t really matter within 5 minutes of meeting a person, but they might matter before you decide to enter a relationship with a person. for instance lets my list includes a woman who knows when to budget and is good with money. if we are casually dating and i notice behaviors and patterns that lets me know that she is terrible with money, then i might not want to take things further. if i do and we get married then can i really expect her to change who she is? and i know that in this example i could work with her and help her change her ways, but what if it that’s just a dealbreaker for me?

  • BoomShots

    All of that may sound nice but at the end of the day, people have checklist for whom they aspire to be with…they don’t have to be ironclad in my book but you should have an idea about certain characteristics you require in someone for a prospective relationship. There a many people you can end up loving but long term relationships require a whole lot more than love to sustain.

    I use to believe like you that it could all work out if both parties are engaged and trying but that is the exception rather than the rule. Because you have to both on a basic level want the same things and value the same things. Shared values, shared goals. How you go about getting them is where there is room for negotiation. that is where the love comes in, it cements a couple as they traverse life.

    it took me a long time of trial and error to finally figure out that there are people out in the world with wwhom you may have great vibes and who get your heart racing but with wwhom you cannot traverse the nitty gritty of day to day life. You may want and desire it big times but in the end it will only end up frustrating you and may make you enemies rather than the friends you could have been. That is what relationships are, the nitty gritty of day to day life.

    How many times you had to separate yourself from someone you really dig because if you spend too much time in the same space, you want to wring their freaking necks. They are not bad people but you all just don’t meld.

  • http://www.luvsdetriment.blogspot.com shelbie

    I married according to the “mythical checklist.” My marriage lasted a whole 6 months. We’ll be divorced before our 1 year anniversary. Love trumps list, hell, like trumps list any day.

  • Sunkissed404

    Tunde–>smart dude. If I were a dude, I’d probably watch my spending habits :) I looove to shop. @Shelbie, aw man…Sh– happens. Boomshots, I agree

  • Nappy Spirit

    BoomShots i’m in your amen corner..Your relationship history dictates having in mind a series of charateristics that bring you joy and happiness…and grow you your highest..for your prospective mate…peace

  • http://www.sleep-is-the-cousin-of-death.blogspot.com/ Tunde

    lol, there’s nothing wrong with loving to shop. it becomes a problem when that habit affects other areas of your life.

  • Sunkissed404

    This is true. My shopping habits aren’t that bad…Like I don’t have any maxed out credit cards or anything. I’m a clearance and sales rack kinda chick. I’m laughing at your statement about patterns and behaviors because I hear my mom tell my younger brother that all the time. He has a really nice career, and she basically preaches to him about guarding his wallet. I mean, she can only hope he does what she says because he is grown. However, your comment gives me confirmation that he is probably listening…He just doesn’t act like he hears her.

  • Sunkissed404

    Oops..In the wrong place. –> This is true. My shopping habits aren’t that bad…Like I don’t have any maxed out credit cards or anything. I’m a clearance and sales rack kinda chick. I’m laughing at your statement about patterns and behaviors because I hear my mom tell my younger brother that all the time. He has a really nice career, and she basically preaches to him about guarding his wallet. I mean, she can only hope he does what she says because he is grown. However, your comment gives me confirmation that he is probably listening…He just doesn’t act like he hears her.

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  • Neveralone

    I had a check list in college, it was 146 qualities I wanted in a potential mate. I laugh really hard at that list now, some 10 years later and still single. As the years went on that list was chopped down to zero. See I realized that life does not give you that kind of certainty. We want people to come in perfect, neatly wrapped packages but the truth is…they don’t…It boils down to relating experiences, enriching each other lifes, and sharinging a common goal for the future. No longer a believer in lists, I do however think one should have standards(or you’ll accept anything)…but leave room to grow. Nothing stays the same…not even your needs in a potential mate.

  • Ariana

    I have a hard time staying engaged in your writing when you do explanatory pieces like this. It comes off as more of an internal monologue and it flows as if it’s just coming out of your mind, unpolished for writing purposes. It often feels like a dry lecture. I wish I could give you more specific constructive criticism but I just cant pin point why you lose my interest on these pieces. Maybe it’s just my taste.

    I really love your “Stories” pieces and wish you would write more of those. If that’s something you just pour out of your mind without polishing or editing, you’re a genius. Because your story pieces keep me at the computer long before I have to go. Your story pieces make me late for appointments. That’s hella good writing.

  • BettyButterly

    Well, I have to say I have a list, a very short list. Respect me and I have to be able to respect you. After that we should be able to talk about all the other expectations for a relationship to work. The relationship I have now was founded on that simple premise and has lasted longer than any other I have ever been in. I think if you are going to have list, don’t make it a list of what you want but of what you don’t want and will not tolorate and be sure that you meet that list before you start requiring it of others.

  • http://www.sleep-is-the-cousin-of-death.blogspot.com/ Tunde

    there’s nothing wrong with clearance and sales racks. that’s how i shop. i don’t believe paying full price for anything.

    trust me if your brother is smart he’s listening to your mother. i also acted like i didn’t hear my mom when she told me i shouldn’t have a real girlfriend till i was 19/20. lol

  • sistah1

    In a lot of cases, the list is not mythical. Isn’t it good to know what you want in a mate? I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as the list is realistic and not superficial.

    I had to review my list not too long ago.
    http://singleindependentsistah.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/re-examining-the-deal-breakers/