10 Things I Thought I Needed From A Guy At 25 – And Why I Was Wrong

  1. When I was 25, I thought we needed to be opposites to attract. And in a sense, we all wind up with our opposite; after all, none of us weds our clone. But did you know? People fight about their differences, not their similarities. Hundreds of studies all over the world show that like attracts like. So now I’ve got someone I like, who’s like me in all the important ways (personality, values, goals, dreams) and some of the less-important ways.
  2. When I was 25, I thought we had to share all the same interests. And we do need to share some interests. But all? No. My husband recently went to Africa while I stayed home and wrote a book. We had great stories to share, him of safaris, me of academic pursuits, when he returned. Fantastic!
  3. When I was 25, I thought my man had to be cool. But what he really has to be is kind and respectful. My husband is. Did you know that in almost 40 years of research, the big picture is that if you can find and be someone kind and respectful, you’ll thrive at love—and if you can’t, you won’t? Yep. Truth.
  4. When I was 25, I thought he had to have a great butt. Okay, he does have a great butt.
  5. When I was 25, I thought independence was vital. But interdependence is much, much more important. Being able to rely on the one you love is highly valued in at least 37 cultures where these things have been researched. And the most important question you can ask is about “we”, not “me”: Are you on my side? Make sure that’s a Yes, because that’s THE question that never stops mattering.
  6. When I was 25, I thought that love was enough. Sorry, Beatles; it’s not all you need. Almost everyone in the USA marries for love, yet about 47% of first marriages end in divorce. If love by itself was enough, that wouldn’t happen. Turns out we need similarity, kindness, respect, and friendship too.
  7. When I was 25, I thought sex was the end-all, and that I should have sex quickly in a relationship to find out whether I wanted to know more about someone. And sex is definitely important; don’t get serious about anyone you don’t want to put your hands all over, who doesn’t want the same with you. But sex-first, questions-later broke my heart, and for many folks, it does something even worse: It breaks lives—health, families, children’s futures, bank accounts, and the ability to have faith in future relationships. Factually speaking, casual sex is rarely casual. In studies, 3/4ths of women and 1/4th of men say they have trouble remaining emotionally distant even in a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Another study found that almost half of women, and about a tenth of men, had used casual sex to try to create commitment. So yes, I chose someone who rang my bell. But I didn’t let him ring it until after we’d first laid the groundwork.
  8. When I was 25, I thought I didn’t need someone who could/would take care of me. But I adulthood is just too dang hard to do on our own. Partnership is about taking care of one another, and sooner or later, we all need it. For me, I wound up needing to be taken care of through open-heart surgery while I was still young. I needed help raising our daughter; I’d been a single parent, and boy, did that suck! I needed someone to listen and care about my day. Of course, my husband has needs too, and it is my honor and privilege to take care of him. We’re human; we evolved to need and to be needed. I chose someone who wants me to take care of him, and who wants to take care of me too.
  9. When I was 25, I thought I needed someone with advanced degrees. What I found out was that I needed my peer—my equal. Vic and I don’t have the same number or level of degrees; we do have the same levels of achievement and intellectual curiosity in the areas we’re interested in. Pick a peer. Remember, that peer may not have exactly your set of credentials. But they are your equal nonetheless.
  10. When I was 25, I thought I needed someone who felt like home. And it’s true, I needed someone who made me feel totally comfortable in my skin; whose love made me want to be my best self. But most of us don’t need to pick the same issues we grew up with. Too many of us choose someone who pushes the same buttons that got pushed in our families of origin. Pick wisely; choose someone who heals rather than worsens your issues.

One Comment

  1. shamil

    I disagree with this:
    “When I was 25, I thought independence was vital.”

    First off, i’m a highly independent guy. It’s quite alright to need assistance once and every now and again. But, if you have trouble being independent, i will see it. Men and women suffer from this problem called learned helplessness/learned codependency.

    If you don’t love yourself, you go into a life long depression that many can’t dig themselves out of. From the people around me that don’t love themselves, as far as i’m concerned, they chose one hell of a long way to die.

    If you at first could never be independent (for this i mean people choosing and also unknowingly choosing not to be independent), then an independent person should never have dealings with such people period.

    It takes two mature independent people for interdependency.

    Yes independence is vital. Particularly mature independence. Not the immature person claiming independence in everyone’s face with only the opposite to show everyone.

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