The Two Most Important things in a Relationship

When it comes to dating, throw away the checklist and don’t let the baggage stop you

I like him,

“But he’s short”

“But he’s divorced”

“But he has a kid (or kids)”

“But he’s old”

Take these buts in your hands, take a deep breath, and let them go. They don’t determine the ultimate fate of a relationship.

Take my parents for example: my step-mom started dating my dad when she was around my age (25 years old). She was an incredibly smart, educated, ambitious, beautiful young woman. She had lots of options. She certainly wasn’t actively looking to date someone 14 years older than herself, married and divorced twice, with a kid already 8 years old (i.e. me). And no, my dad was neither rich nor handsome (sorry dad).

I recently asked her how she could overlook all of the so-called baggage my dad had, and her response was:

“In a relationship, only 2 things matter:

1. Is he/she a good person?

2. Is he/she good to you?

Everything else is secondary.”

Then I understood why she married my dad. He possesses the qualities she values in a human being and he unconditionally brings these qualities to her life.

For as long as they’ve been together, my dad has been the stagehand behind her thriving personal and professional life.

He does all of the household chores so that she doesn’t have to. He cooks and washes the dishes every single day so that she could concentrate more energy on her career: be it her postdoc 7 years ago or running her own lab now. He picks up the extra pieces so that he could alleviate weight off of her shoulder. He’s not a stay-at-home dad either. He’s a busy scientist just like her.

Never have I seen elsewhere a dedication as formidable as the way he has been supporting her. Their relationship has lasted through thick and thin. They’ve been happily married for 15 years and are now raising my lively half-sister.

To its core, relationship is about finding that teammate with whom you could run in the sun and weather through storms. It’s about finding someone who will not abandon you when you fall in the middle of the track, someone who will carry you on their shoulders across the finish line when you’re too exhausted to continue.

If you meet someone you like, someone who genuinely cares about running a good race with you, should physical traits, financial wealth, or past life (i.e. baggage) really stop you from pursuing a wonderful relationship?

When I met my boyfriend (let’s still call him Sebastian), I didn’t plan on dating someone who, in his own words, is “a fat, bald, short guy.” I didn’t want to date someone who’s constantly traveling for work. And I certainly didn’t aspire to date someone whose past sexual experience “ain’t even the same fuckin’ sport” (or planet, or galaxy even) as my own.

If I listened to the buts, I would have gotten the fuck out in the blink of an eye.

But I’m glad I didn’t. If I did, I would have missed out on someone amazing.

I have felt more genuineness and support from him in the 4 months we’ve known each other than I had felt from my previous ex in the period of 5 years.

He consistently encourages me to keep challenging myself both intellectually and mentally. I would have never developed the courage to publish this bold article about sex or to explore a long-held hidden curiosity for exotic dancing if it wasn’t for the encouragement from him.

If I followed my familiar checklist, I would most likely still be dating someone similar to my ex. There’s nothing wrong with dating someone like him. But that person will not help expand my inner and outer world because I am already familiar with him and the thoughts, ideals, and experiences he could offer me.

Dating Sebastian has challenged me to reflect on myself, my world views, and my character more than anything else ever had. Dating him has opened me to experiences I couldn’t have imagined in a million years.

I am me, a person with growing confidence, courage, openness, and ambition because I didn’t follow a checklist. I am me because I let myself be with him.

Keep an open-mind when it comes to dating, when it comes to love. The only questions you need to answer for yourself are:

“is he/she a good person?” and “is he/she good to me?”

It’s not easy to forgo the checklist and accept someone else’s baggage, but it’s worth it.

If you follow a checklist, you inevitably end up missing out on wonderful people, transformative experiences, and lifelong lessons.


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