The key to finding a love that will work for you is to understand that what you need in a mate is often more important than what you want.
Recently, I watched Arsenio Hall interview Niecy Nash about her hilarious new HBO show Getting On and they discussed Niecy’s status as a Hollywood matchmaker (the actress introduced Sherri Shepherd to her husband). Arsenio asked what the trick was and her response was that she told her that if she was serious she needed to start dating for her priorities and not her preferences. And, you know what, Niecy is right.
In my twenties, my list of criteria was as long as a child’s Christmas wish list. I don’t know whom I had imagined would walk in the door, but if it weren’t Jesus himself, then the person wasn’t going to live up to my standards. Older and after a long-term relationship, my list has changed and shortened. I haven’t settled myself in any way, but at 37, I do know perfection doesn’t exist nor am I perfect myself.
But, hearing Niecy discuss this truism and others from her relationship book It’s Hard to Fight Naked I began to unravel the dilemma – I didn’t know the difference between my priorities and my preferences. I certainly wasn’t resigned to give up everything I was looking for just to find a partner, but I was having a hard time differentiating between the two. So, I made a list.
Once down on paper, I was able to decipher what I could live with or without much easier. And, as I started being truly honest, my list ultimately came down to five things. I am looking for someone who is: 1) Intelligent; 2) Driven; 3) Loves God and Family 4) Has a Great Sense of Humor, and 5) Loves Me. The other stuff I had on the list (mostly superficial and material things) didn’t really seem to matter as much as those five things I certainly could not live without.
It was an eye opening exercise for me and I look back on my dating history since I have been single and guess what? Most of the people I dated didn’t meet those priorities. I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise that none of those relationships worked out (although I dated some really great people and some not so great). And, in that short period of time, I have been analyzing potential partners from that rubric of priorities versus preferences. Let me tell you so many people are instantly ruled out.
On the contrary, I recently met someone who meets those priorities and is not at all the package I thought I would find them inside. Go figure! Niecy Nash is brilliant and if it works out I am going to give her the credit for this match too. If you’re really serious about finding a life partner then, I suggest you do the exercise I did and take Niecy’s advice to start dating for your priorities and not your preferences.
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy!
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Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.