Surely you’ve heard of The List.
You know the one – where you write down all your ideal qualities in a mate?
There are a lot of reasons to make The List. It tells you who you are in this moment. It helps clarify what matters. And it can be a tool to weed out anyone who has trouble lining up their walk and talk.
But can we get too caught up in The List? Can it leave us cycling in our mind rather than joining head and heart? This month, we’ll talk about how to keep our heart open in a challenging world in the series, Make Room for Love.
Making The List worked well for Samara. After taking some time off from dating following a bad break-up, she decided she was ready to get back in the game. Guys showed up and exited just as quickly as she compared them against her essentials.
“In the past, I would have fallen for Matt—he was so charming!” Samara confessed. “However, when he spent a lot of time texting me during the day, I knew he wasn’t serious about his career. Adam was a mismatch, too. I thought we had so much in common when we met at a film festival. Then he admitted he only went because a friend dragged him there. He really loves camping and fishing, two things I hate. This list is really keeping me on track!”
Then Kris showed up. They went from dating to exclusive to married within the year. Thing seemed to be going well, yet there was just one problem: Samara couldn’t stop making lists.
She was still rattled after a blow-up. Samara complained, “Seeing the bills pile up made me nervous. First, I thought I would remind him they were due, but then it made sense to give him a list of all the tasks he said he would finish. Um…Kris didn’t see it that way.”
In an instant, Samara’s good intention went terribly wrong. Discussing how to split the household chores was partnership. But handing Kris a bunch of deadlines? Well, that was closer to parenting. One word let to another, and they both shut down.
We’ve all had moments we wish we could take back. Those tense times are the surprising opportunity to let more love in, says Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron:
The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.
Demanding perfection is like wearing a suit of armor. Whether you’re single, coupled, or simply making February the month you practice self-love, make sure your List includes room for a do-over and a chance for grace. Mistakes get made, even with your nearest and dearest. The next time there’s an error, err on the side of love.