Ask not what your relationship can do for you…

shopping for labels? shopping for love?

When it comes to finding a mate, we all have long shopping lists. We have lists of superficial things we prefer (ex. he should be tall and work at Goldman), of values we want matched (he should like children and vote Democrat), and of qualities we think we need (he should be financially sound and be able to make me laugh).

But let’s not forget what we’re really after when we set out to find love everlasting…

What we really want is a travel companion or biking-buddy, fellow Trekkie or like minded museum-junkie, congenial Scrabble adversary or able party co-host. In short, what we’re really looking for is a teammate.

Everyone knows the cliche “there’s no ‘I’ in TEAM,” and anyone whose played a sport or watched a professional franchise win a championship knows what makes a team successful: synergy.  One person makes up for the short-comings of the other, while both foster and bolster each others’ talents. Yes, a successful team is whole that is greater that the sum of its parts, and love-based relationships are no different.

That being said, when it comes to finding the Misty May Treanor to your Kerri Walsh, or the Jorge Posada to your Mariano Rivera,  it’s important to have a grasp not only on what they bring to the relationship, but also on what you can or can’t provide in this partnership. I’m not necessarily prescribing a selfless “ask not what your relationship can do for you, ask what you can do for your relationship” approach to a new flame — that’s extremely dangerous territory in which to tread. But I do think it a worthwhile exercise to evaluate, as objectively as possible, your strengths and weaknesses as 1/2 of a couple.

I suppose, if I prescribe, I should take the first does:

My greatest strength as both a friend and lover is my loyalty. I’m an excellent and sincere cheerleader who will always be there on the sidelines ready to help you up after a bad game.

My greatest weakness? I want to me my own person. To some (read: a select few), my independent, stand on my own feet, “this is who I am, this is what I want and I’m going to get it”  attitude is attractive. But it’s often my biggest relationship roadblock. I have no doubt that my athletic aspirations and career goals have dead-ended several potentially awesome romances. For a long time, I simply wasn’t available enough to be someone’s girlfriend. Yet, while I may have more time in my schedule for dates and weekend getaways, I still refuse to subjugate my ambitions to those of someone else. Sorry, but I want Glen Lowry’s job, and I’m not going to get it if I have to move to Oklahoma with you.

In coming to terms with my relationship shortcoming, it seems I’ve found the critical, must-have quality on my significant-other shopping list: allows me to be independent.

I guess I don’t sound like too much of a team player, do I? That’s not entirely fair. Compromises will be made by both me and my mister, because at the end of the day, if I get to be my own person, so does he. The challenge is finding someone whose goals happen to be compatible with mine…and I don’t just mean retiring early to a villa in Tuscany.

A Book of Dealbreakers

I shouldn’t be telling you this… but I own 3 dating-advice books. It might even be as many as 4. I know you want to, but please, don’t judge me too harshly. I have good excuses for why they’re on my shelf:  “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” was a salvage item — I grabbed it from a friend who was about to trash it. I thought it would be an education in the way men think on a Saturday night at a bar. I haven’t read it, so I still don’t know what men are thinking on a Saturday night at a bar… I probably never will. “Jane Austen’s Guide to Romance” really is a great character analysis of Austen’s heroines and heroes. It’s better than sparknotes. As for “He’s Just Not that Into You,” well, you’ve got me there.

Look, I haven’t sunk as low as “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars” or “The Rules” — I’m neither desperate nor clueless. I do, however, find this genre of  “lite lit” to be extremely amusing. There’s a new advice, or rather a what not to do book about to hit the newsstands, “Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t be Dating or Having Sex,” and I’m inclined to buy it.

Here’s the “about the book” from the publisher’s website… I think you’ll want it too:

“SHIRT: SPORTS JERSEY.
JEANS: EMBELLISHED.
HAIR: OVERLY GELLED.
STATUS: UNDATEABLE.

“Did your date show up wearing socks with sandals? Are tighty-whities a deal-breaker for you? Do fanny packs make you want to run for the door? Now, for the very first time, we’re revealing the secret list of things that so many perfectly eligible guys manage to wear, say, or do to make themselves completely undateable. With an essential rating system that ranges from minor red-flag offenses all the way to the irreversible kiss of death, this hilarious handbook exposes the many common mistakes that can turn an otherwise acceptable man from a “maybe” into a “no way.” From pleated shorts and soul patches to ordering girly drinks and owning more than one cat, the evidence is painfully funny to behold. No more double denim, corporate swag, or exclaiming “Booya!” No more jogging in place at stoplights, and definitely no more “going dutch” on the first date. This book is for every woman who’s ever wondered where to draw the line, and every guy who’s ever asked, “What did I do wrong?”

“Here’s what you did.”