Beggars can’t be Choosers. That’s a disempowering way to find the one. If you’re doing the choosing, then you’re not begging. The key is knowing what you want.
Using the ‘Be-Do-Have’ framework from this post allows you to increase the quality of men you choose to date, and put you in charge of finding your perfect man.
‘You don’t know what you want!’ I said accusingly.
She looked at me, thinking about what I said. I could feel my wife shifting nervously next to me. The other three women felt the awkwardness.
Wow this had escalated, I thought. We were at a party thrown by a close friend of my wife’s. Inevitably with any mixed group of people beyond their late twenties, conversations become more high stakes, more quickly. We were talking about relationships. There was an air of frustration and resignation being hidden with ‘strong independent woman’ talk with phrases like:
‘I just set my standards too high.’
‘If it happens, it happens. I’m open-minded.’
‘I’m just taking it easy and seeing how things go.’
Which translate as:
‘I can’t really have the relationship I want’
‘A great relationship is out of reach for me’
‘There’s no point’
My wife would say that I was being too harsh. My response was: nobody else talks to women like this, especially not a bloke.
Truthfully, I’m fed up of women talking negatively about blokes. It is possible to meet someone you really like.
Imagine your perfect guy. Close your eyes for a moment and think about what he’d be like.
Let me have a guess.
He’d be someone who’s caring. He’d be passionate and not afraid to go for his dreams. He’d be working in a job he loved, or maybe working towards it. He would be someone who could keep you safe. He’d be someone who would talk, but also listen. He’d be the kind of guy who would have a good relationship with his family. Who would want to be seen with you. He would be up for new experiences and sharing them. He would be someone who would hug you went you need it but tell you the truth too. He would be a man who would treat you well.
Does that sound right?
Well, guess what – that’s me. All of it.
I’ve had versions of this conversation with female friends. I either:
1) ask them what they want in a guy, and they reel off a list of cliched stuff…and I say it’s me (which it usually is), or
2) reel off a list of cliched stuff, and they go ‘how did you know?’…and inevitably it’s me.
Does that mean that I’m your perfect guy?
Nope. For a start I’m married.
Unless you’re specific about what you’re looking for, you’ll keep meeting the same old, same old.
Now you might then be thinking: ‘yeah but I’ve made those ‘perfect man’ lists and I end up frustrated because nobody’s perfect.’
I would guess though, that the list of qualities had little structure. It was perhaps thrown together in conversation with some girlfriends.
Or maybe you read a bunch of books, tried out the ideas and ended up annoyed.
I suggest that finding the one is a bit like finding a job. You do need to know what you want.
Now you might be thinking something like:
‘That takes all the fun out of it.’
‘You never get what you really want.’
‘There’s no point, this will never really work for me.’
Maybe, but are you going to leave the choice about who you spend the rest of your life with to ‘fate’?
The ‘Be-Do-Have’ Framework
Most of the time when constructing a list of what we want, it can be an unstructured mess. Creating who we’d like to be with is no different.
It makes sense to structure the search, increase the quality of the people with whom you choose to spend your time, and perhaps enjoy the process. A list helps this.
I suggest a particular structure to the list that gets deeper into what you want.
Stephen Covey wrote a book called ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. He explains that it’s who we’re ‘being’ that is at the core of everything. He suggests that who we’re ‘being’ gives us what we ‘do’ which then gives us what we ‘have’. For example, if I’m ‘being’ loving, I would ‘do’ the things loving people do (e.g giving people compliments and smiling), and then ‘have’ the things loving people have (happy relationships).
Covey’s book also suggests approaching it the other way round too – if I want to ‘have’ happy relationships, then I need to ‘do’ the things people in happy relationships do, and then I will experience ‘being’ happy.
If we want to be effective in life, then all three need to match: being, doing and having. Take that framework, and apply it to finding the perfect guy. This means, starting with who they’re being, then create what they might be doing, then what they might have.
This has several effects. It gets you:
– thinking about what’s *really* important, and
– brings some organisation to ideas
– allows you to create the perfect guy in different ways
Ask yourself – what are the qualities of being I’d like in the perfect man? Loving? Playful? Honesty? There’s no correct answer – only what you choose.
Now think – if they were being those particular qualities, what would they do? This is how his being manifests – and again there is no ‘right’ answer. For example, a man who is being generous, might be attentive to his friends when he’s out in a group by offering to buy the first round. Or a man who is being playful might be someone who tells jokes…or is on the dancefloor strutting his stuff…or is kicking a football around in the park. There are many different expressions of being – and there will be ones that you like.
The final stage – what they have – is the most obvious stuff that hits us first. So a man who is (being) happy, may walk tall into a room and greet his friends with a smile that shows in the creases next to his eyes (doing). He may be well-dressed wearing trousers that fit, and belt, shoes and watch that match (having).
As Covey says in his book: “If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want the secondary greatness of recognized talent, focus first on primary greatness of character.” We’re always a reflection of who we’re being.
We Chose Each Other
On paper, I’m absolutely not her type. I’m an intellectual university-attending geek, tattooed, pierced, guitar-playing, bearded, skater-boy-heavy-metal-fan. She loves the Spice Girls, goes to see Justin Timberlake, dresses well and enjoys the mainstream and went straight into a job, working hard without going to university. I imagined she’d like a well-dressed, scent-wearing, high-earning, BMW-driving, slick-back hair type Indian dude.
Thinking like this means the more subtle and deeper values get missed. I said I wanted to be with someone who is comfortable with people – I could go to the bar and get a round of drinks and she’s comfortable chatting. I’m now married to someone who values family – and reminds me about it. But more than that – she’s open to all the stuff I love – and she always was. Over the years she’s grown to appreciate heavy metal. She’s quoted Star Wars to me and can identify a NIN track when I’m playing it. We’ve grown together.
People say that we’re lucky to have found each other. We both say it’s not luck. We chose each other. And we keep doing so even when it gets difficult.
Before I met my wife I used to tell everyone: ‘I’m not begging, I’m choosing’. A ‘Be-Do-Have’ list puts you in charge. It makes meeting others interesting and an adventure. It also helps you see if someone is worth spending time with, and sets you up to win.
- Spend some time thinking about what’s really important to you. Begin to identify your values. You can start to use these to choose who you go out with.
- As an experiment in self-awareness – keep a tally of how many times in two weeks you find yourself thinking – I can’t find anyone I like.
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