Needs List

Jay Allen suggested a good way to help improve your chances of getting what you really want: Think of and write down every great quality of every person you’ve dated and everyone you really respect. Even write down qualities which you think you want, but perhaps have never encountered.
Next consider whether you would be completely satisfied in a relationship with someone who had the others but didn’t have that quality. If you wouldn’t, put a checkmark by it. Continue on through the list making this evaluation. These checked ones are your needs. The others are desires; nice to have but not the things that make or break relationships.
Sure, you can have good short term relationships with folks who don’t meet all your needs, but it probably wouldn’t work out in the long term. Never assume you can change them to meet your needs. Trust your list and be honest with yourself about the potential & your hopes for a relationship when you enter it.

I’m going to start this exercise. First, I need to list things that I really value in a relationship…

I use the male pronoun here not because I’m opposed to being with a woman, but because I’ve always fallen in love with men and when I imagine my life partner, it’s a man).

I want to share my life with someone who

– is a basically happy person who takes joy in life

– takes childlike pleasure in small things around him

– is physically affectionate, giving and enjoying receiving small touches, smiles, little kisses, cuddles, hand-holding, spooning, etc.

– is emotionally available, interested in exploring and sharing his feelings

– is energized by sharing his life with me, wants a strong, committed long-term relationship with me

– is intellectually stimulating, knowledgable and prone to think things through

– is sexually exciting to me and me to him, has a sex drive that is in sync with mine and shares some of my favorite activities

– is playful both in general and in bed, but not a teaser or mocker or just a crude buffoon

– is witty and fond of references (literary, pop culture, inside jokes, heh and also dictionaries, encyclopedias & all those other reference materials)

– is nice to cuddle and hang out with

– is sweet and kind and gentle

– is sensual, enjoys being touched and touching as well as more abstract forms of sensuality (hot tubs, candlelight, dark chocolate, sleeping in, cooking with really fresh high-quality ingredients, etc.)

– is dramatic, but not a drama queen

– is a bit of a popinjay, enjoying dressing up, feeling handsome or even pretty

– is creative

– is eclectically geeky and is energized by the company of other eclectic geeks

– is just plain fun to be around

– loves life and extends that warmth to the world around him

– cares about people and the world

– stands by his convictions

– is self-aware and continually growing

– is self-loving, not self-destructive or self-suppressing

– is comfortable with his sexuality and emotions and doesn’t care if it conforms to anyone else’s idea of what is "manly"

– is comfortable with his body and with nudity and human bodies in general, won’t get freaked about my period or if I have to use the toilet while he’s taking a shower

– takes care of his body, not compulsively but in a way that will keep him from having big health problems later or being unpleasant to be intimate with now (e.g. brushes & flosses his teeth, washes thoroughly, eats fruits & vegetables, doesn’t eat crappy food all the time)

– actively enjoys the Web and Webfolk

– has some experience or at least openess to polyamorous relationships, understands that love is not finite and that crushes happen even in the middle of other loving relationships [though I have realized that this is less essential to me than I thought; I think the minimum requirement is someone who isn’t threatened by "window shopping". I can certainly be monogamous, but I’m also human and don’t want to give up the pleasure of admiring pretty people at a distance.] [My tendency toward monogamy appears to be increasing with age, though perhaps it’s just a pendulum swing.]

– kisses competently

– is turned off by pain and humiliation (or at least isn’t turned on by it)

– is willing to match my putting 50-70% into the relationship, will initiate things, will do his share of the commuting to be together before we live together, wants to build something strong & is willing to put time & energy into it

– has some experience with good communication and the patience to work things through, is able to cope with my emotions coming out in a rush sometimes

– is comfortable with the idea of never having children

– recognizes when things are making him uncomfortable and will actively seek to negotiate a better outcome rather than lumping it and resenting it

– doesn’t harbor grudges, hasn’t got a brown stamp collection

– appreciates small kindnesses, both receiving and giving (including random acts of kindness towards strangers)

– will spontaneously talk about things he likes and express his pleasure, is more likely to praise than criticize (himself, me, other people, the world…)

– is unafraid of falling in love

– doesn’t use the same catchphrases over and over and over

– loves being read aloud to, likes reading aloud, likes sharing interesting things (hearing what I just read in some weblog, telling me about the dream he had last night, laughes aloud at something he misread on a sign and tells me why he’s laughing, likes to hear the story that goes with the old picture I just found…)

– sings (even if he’s not that great at it) and encourages me to sing

– likes my family and friends

– had a happy childhood

– will have answers for questions like "What books did you like as a kid?", likes the library and bookstores

– isn’t driven by money but knows how to manage it reasonably well

– has friends and interests of his own and expects that I will too

– enjoys being alone sometimes and expects that I will too

– loves to come up with ideas and work on projects together

Published by

Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg

11 thoughts on “Needs List”

  1. This seems like a dangerous way of going about things. If you conciously have all these wants and needs, you’re setting yourself up to fail. At the risk of sounding cynical, I choose not to have any expectations, try not to make any long-term plans, and that way I’m (a little) less disapointed with the outcome. Or maybe that’s just the child in me…okay that’s my rant over!
    Posted February 25, 2002 04:35 PM
    [I had to re-add the comments when I combined my Dinah blog into my main blog]


  2. Much heartbreak and misery is caused by measuring others according to a list of our own devising. Each individual is a unique blend of delights and devilments – and you can’t even imagine the variations or what you may find delightful or intolerable.
    Rather than grow old and gray waiting for the one who meets your specifications, consider instead a more practical method: if you find someone who you can tolerate long-term, grab them and never let go…
    Posted February 25, 2002 09:45 PM
    [I had to re-add the comments when I combined my Dinah blog into my main blog]


  3. Hrm. A few clarifications and counter-arguments seem in order here.
    English, it’s not unreasonable to have all these wants & needs. Acknowledging that there are certain things that make your relationships work and then actively trying to find someone for whom those things also work, rather than glumly expecting the worst and getting it, is a way happier way to live. Truly, I know, even in my extensively wishful case, that that combination of qualities exists. What’s more important, though, is to voice these as what I’m wishing for and which will be a pressure in the relationship if he has none of or worse yet the opposite of a quality. When two people compare lists and talk about what’s essential and what’s nice to have and about what was the real relationship breaker in the past, it gives them an opportunity to figure out some places that they may have problems or need to work extra hard to overcome a difference of opinion.
    Ah, and that’s something that didn’t get said which should: I don’t walk around with this checklist and never tell the guy. It’s a starting point for conversations about our hopes & dreams & histories.
    Also, it occurs to me now, it would be interesting to re-read the list to see if it also happens to be the qualities I value in myself or would like to have. Hmmm… have to think about that.
    Whuffo, this list is a way of figuring out, as you say, if I’ve found “someone who you can tolerate long-term”. It’s not that I don’t have relationships with people who don’t at first blush seem to match every single point on the list, rather that I go into the relationship with open eyes, knowing that certain things have been issues in the past and I shouldn’t build castles in the air with, for example, someone who is not basically a happy person.
    Posted originally by Dinah February 27, 2002 12:11 PM
    [edited slightly to correct confusing phrasing on April 28, 2002]
    [and I had to re-add the comments when I combined my Dinah blog into my main blog in January 2004]


  4. Well, if your list works for you then stick with it; everyone is different and has different wants and needs, right?
    But I recall making lists myself years ago; I thought I was being smart and avoiding bad choices, but I realize now that I was really setting up a justification for avoiding any / all entanglements. I needed time to get over an ugly ending…
    Since then, I’ve made the “mistake” of getting to know all different kinds of “wrong” people. Some would have been better left alone, but others turned out to be some of the best people I’ve ever known; if I was still checking that list I’d have missed meeting these wonderful friends.
    And my wife – just about everything about her is wrong according to that old list – but she’s a delight to me and we live a very good life together.
    The trick is that we are each three different people; the person we think we are, the person we pretend to be for others, and the person we really are. The important one here is who we really are – and that’s hard enough to figure out for ourselves, much less someone else. Hard to score these imperfect humans on a list…
    Posted March 2, 2002 10:25 PM
    [I had to re-add the comments when I combined my Dinah blog into my main blog]


  5. Dinah, I think the list is a great idea. Actually, I misunderstood what you meant at first and thought you were making a list about the qualities you wanted in YOURSELF. But it’s best if you combine those two aspects. If a person becomes most of the good qualities they’d like to attract in others, they’re more likely to attract people who share those qualities.
    Posted March 16, 2002 04:02 PM
    [I had to re-add the comments when I combined my Dinah blog into my main blog]


  6. Dinah, A Fabulous List! Your list has a shockingly high number of the same criteria as a list I came up with seven years ago. I wrote mine in a more free form manner. I decided that I would write a letter to my “perfect someone”, (if anyone remembers Depeche Mode) because I though it would seem a bit more romantic, and perhaps being younger, publishable.
    I have since married, and will be forever grateful, for the focus that I put into my decision. I will say that I did compromise a little; knowing that the person I married was so close to what I envisioned, and knew that there had to be a margin of error. There have only been rare times, since we have been together, that I have even thought of those qualities that I chose to dismiss.
    Due to the process, I was able to decide before I made any grand decisions, how important the “missing” qualities really were, or if there was a way that any additional “unlisted” qualities could be substituted for ones that were missing. A bit of the dark side of me wonders if we can even know what is in the person, that isn’t on our list. It is easy to see the outside of a person and what they do, but not what they think. But, having said that, I feel that I have dug very deep into those places the common people normally don’t share, and I am happy not to find anything that scares me, too bad. So, just be sure that the list is based on the whole person, and not the side they want to show you.
    Remember that it’s the core qualities that rarely change. The rest is dressing. I think now, of the days when I was a vegan, and how I now inwardly decay each rare time I feed my vice, and eat a piece of sushi. Anyone can change. Being aware is our only defense.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this.
    Posted March 27, 2002 11:56 AM
    [I had to re-add the comments when I combined my Dinah blog into my main blog]


  7. I hadn’t re-read this for a while. Part of me is gasping at my audacity in demanding so much of the universe while the rest is dazzled by the fact that I got it all.
    Posted March 5, 2003 09:14 PM
    [I had to re-add the comments when I combined my Dinah blog into my main blog in January 2004 at which time I chuckle a bit because I recognize now that I didn’t get it all exactly as described and in fact that’s just fine]


  8. Actually, Yo, you’re the first one ballsy enough. You know where to write to me. Prove it.
    But if you aren’t interested or I don’t match your list, don’t waste our time. I may be a dreamer but I ain’t so far asleep I can’t smell bullshit when someone tries to pass it off as Valentine’s chocolates.


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