A few days ago, I noticed a Facebook post that read, "If you could write a note to your younger self, what would you say in two words?"
Some of the responses I saw included, "Grow up," "Be patient," "Trust self" "Forgive quickly," "Trust God," "I'm enough," and a really depressing one: "stay single," which could have been written by a really, really happy single person who has never been married, or more likely, an unhappily married or divorced person.
My two words: "trust" and "loyalty." In response to the Facebook post, those don't really make sense without a little elaboration, which is what this article is about to do.
When I say "trust" and "loyalty," I'm saying that these two things are the two most important qualities you should look for in Mr. Right.
Looking back (to when I was young and stupid,) I would date guys and my criteria for dating them would be:
1. Am I attracted to him? Would he be a good kisser?
2. Is he funny? Does he make me laugh?
3. Is he interesting/smart? Can he talk about what's going on in the world?
4. Does he want to get married and have a family?
5. Would my family and friends like him?
6. Is he ambitious? Self-motivated?
7. Do I enjoy hanging out with him?
While those are all important things to look at in someone you find yourself getting serious with, I feel like I never put enough emphasis on trust and loyalty.
Can I trust him, I mean REALLY trust him?
Do I trust he will never cheat on me? Do I trust him to co-mingle my finances with him? Do I trust him with my children/future children? Do I trust his judgment, his loyalty, his friendship, his love for me? In other words, do I trust him so much that I could fall backwards into his arms with my eyes closed and think nothing of it?
Will he be loyal to me?
Will he stay with me forever, no matter what? If I get cancer, will he take care of me? If I go broke, will he support me? Will he be loyal to the relationship? If we fight, will he fight for the relationship to work? Is he really really here for me, both for the good times and the bad times? If I become extremely successful in my career and get promoted five times or start making hundreds of thousands of dollars, will he be happy for me or will he become jealous? If I get Alzheimer's, will he take care of our children? Will he come visit me?
These things should have been at the top of my list when I was younger, but sadly enough, the "what if's" didn't enter my mind as much as they should have.
As I've gotten older, and through dating after divorce, I've really learned the important qualities versus things that don't matter so much.
I'm not saying that physical attraction doesn't matter. It matters a lot. So do all the other things I listed above (1-7) But, trust and loyalty are at the top of my list when it comes to what I want in Mr. Right. Those are the two things that make marriages last. And the last thing any divorced person wants is to end up divorced again.
Trust and loyalty. I can't tell my younger self, so I'm telling YOU. Hold these two words close to your heart and don't settle for anyone who doesn't meet these expectations to the fullest. These are the gifts you deserve in your next relationship. They are the things that will bring you true happiness and that will make Mr. Right the ultimate Mr. Right.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!