February 14, 2018

The List: How to Define What to Look For in a Mate

Photo: Thomas Yang

So in an instagram post some months ago about my husband (haayyy booo!) I made mention of the list I created of qualities I wanted in my partner. I asked if you were interested in how I made it and many of you said yes..and here we are. Riveting story, I know. But I wanted to share how I made the list that helped me recognize that my boo thang should be my eternal boo thang.

Now this list doesn’t guarantee anything. It will not magically send your perfect partner to you in 30 days or give you any type of money-back guarantee – mostly because this is free sooo….


When I was single, One of my couple/few/many issues during this period was that I was kind of sure what kind of guy I was looking for, so I would get caught up with a guy that I was kind of sure I was looking for only to find out that he was, in fact, only kind of the guy I thought I wanted. I also went through a period where I was battling some pretty big insecurities which opened a door to some not so healthy relationships. Because I was only half sure about what I was looking for and half sure of myself, it added up to a whole hot mess. 

I found it helpful to get all of my “kind-of’s” out of my head and force myself to define these things in more concrete terms. Here’s how I did it….


Step 1 was to pray about it which is step one for like, all the things. I began to seek God about what He wanted for my life & and who He made me to be. Before this point, I’d been really hurt & broken by previous relationships because I didn’t have a great self image and I let people into my life who I shouldn’t have.When I finally decided to trust God with my relationships I got a new perspective.


While this list did not solve all of my problems, it did something really important. It directed my mind through confusion and gave me clarity about what I wanted. Once these things were out of my head and in front of my face it was easier to keep in mind what I did and did not want and recognize what I did want instead of my judgement getting clouded by things that weren’t important.


Instead of companionship being my driving need, I switched it to being purpose: Like, you’re already dope. You are God’s workmanship. He spent time on you so you could do good works. You just have to walk in it.  It has to became more important to seek God’s purpose for your life and find a companion for that – for your purpose – than a cure for your loneliness. 

John 16:24 says ‘Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive & and your joy will be complete.

I wanted to be intentional in my asking. I really put some thought into the qualities in another person that were not only going to make me happy, but that were going to grow me into who I was called to be and what was going to make me well.

Here’s where your homework comes in. Ready? I would encourage you to:

1. Make a list of things you are looking for in a partner.
Nothing is off limits here – just write what comes to mind. Do you want him to have a goatee w/ a soul patch? Should he be 5’ 3” and walk w/ a gangster lean? Do you want him to be in touch with his feelings?  Write it down.

Go back through the list and pick out the things that are non-negotiables.These are qualities that you will not compromise on no matter what. Ya’ll, listen to me: everything cannot be a non-negotiable. If you have 149 things on the list and they are all non-negotiables I’m giving you a virtual side-eye right now. Go back and try again. Also, 149 is a lot… try a bit/lot less. (example: some of my non-negotiables included things like having a strong & evident relationship with God, must be slow to anger, must have rhythm (honestly. truly. cuz otherwise I just…I can’t…) etc… Everything left will be a negotiable, meaning more of a preference than a need.

I added into mine what those things look like –  For example: writing, “Must have a relationship with God” is great – but that can mean a lot of things. To him it might mean going to church once a month & praying over his food while to you it means serving faithfully in your home church, tithing, and doing Bible study together. Defining this helps manage expectations. People love differently, they think differently – so if you know what your ideals look like to you,  you can recognize what it looks like to him & you both can talk about it.

For some things, definitions may look different to both of you now. That’s not a deal breaker per se. If you two talk about it, listen to wise counsel, be willing to learn, and come to a healthy, God-centered agreement then that works too!

A negotiable for me was cooking. I wanted my husband to love to cook. In my mind he was going to be some sort of chef at heart that insisted on cooking delicious things all the time. Now, I hate cooking. My husband doesn’t love it I don’t think. It is really a wonder we’re still alive. He can make a mean pizza roll…and he did make spagetti once and it was good – but the fact that he is willing to help me in the kitchen & he’s willing to learn makes up for the lack of kitchen skillz.

Your specificities about physical attributes, I hate to be the one to tell you this, are all negotiables. It’s definitely fine to have a preference, and your preference just might show up. But don’t miss your blessing because you think it’s in the “wrong” package. If he’s 5′ 7″ instead of 6’…. if she has brown eyes instead of green eyes…. chiiillle let it go. 


2. Start a new list. This one is a list of all of the things you bring to a relationship.
Are you a super dope cook? Are you a good planner/organizer? Are you great at encouraging your partner? Do you have a strong prayer life? Can you rotate your own tires and fix your own doodads and his too? Write that down. For some time I felt like I didn’t have a whole lot to offer or, at least, couldn’t really define it. This list helped my feel more confident – knowing I brought value to the table and I could/should require the same of my partner. 


3. New list. Write down all the things you would like to bring to a relationship, but perhaps don’t have all the skills to do so yet.
Would you like to be more financially literate? Do you want to work on your patiences level? Is vulnerability a nightmare for you?  These are your things to work on. Trust me, they don’t just show up because you love someone. Study your Bible. Read books on the subject. Talk to elders or counselors. Take classes. Put in the work. When the time comes, you won’t be wondering how you found someone awesome but you can’t make it work out.

Do the work because it’s bringing you towards who you desire to be – not just for a mate. You won’t sustain it if it’s simply for someone else.


The key to understanding who to be with is, really understanding who you are & where God wants to take you. It’s about clarity. Yes, you should like each other & have fun together, and you don’t have to know everything about what you want your future to look like, but your purpose and passion for God can bridge many gaps.

Those non-negotiables tho (listen, Linda) ….they are non-negotiables. If you compromise those things, that means you’re not guarding your heart and once you’ve decided not to do that you are putting yourself in a position to be hurt. I learned (yes, the hard way) that it is much better to learn to be good alone than to give up my standards just to have someone in my life.

So go forth, my little chick-a-dees – get those lists going! It’s also not a bad idea to talk it over with someone who has a Jesus-laced marriage you admire. You never know, they may know list person and introduce you all and then you get married and stuff. But, if that happens, it was my idea so I want the credit and an invitation….


If you’d like an example, subscribe via email & I will send you my own personal list! Steal it, edit it, throw it out & start over – it’s up to you!

One response to “The List: How to Define What to Look For in a Mate”

  1. Jewel says:

    Why are you so clutch though? So.Many.Gems <3

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