head, heart, hands: the unfulfilled love list

In June of 2006, I debuted “The List”. What’s “The List”?

I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but I’ve noticed girls will have about 15-20 things (I think my girlfriend in college had 20 or so) that they need in a guy, and guys will basically say “human and female”.

That being said, I really tried to come up with a decent list. I had five things that had to do with faith, a little something about NPR, and probably something about at least liking how they looked a little bit.

Then about six months later I met Jean. She was a sweetheart, and laughed when I told a joke, even when I knew it was bad. We went to church together, and I can remember at least one good debate about Darfur, and another about the long term implications of the war in Iraq on the economy. Hot, I know. She owned an exercise bike and used it periodically. She also owned her own duplex in Cleveland, and had a good paying job as a Hospice Nurse. She was five-for-five on “The List” for those of you keeping score at home.

The past tense of the previous paragraphs is a clear foreshadow, however. Six months after meeting Jean, we broke up. The girl who batted a perfect 1.000 eventually struck out. She blamed it on stress, on not being ready for a relationship.

The worse part was it was a good relationship. We didn’t fight, we didn’t have sex, and I made her parents laugh.

I even made mixtapes for her brother. Yeah. Mixtapes.

You have a Jean too. You also have your list. Maybe he has to be at least 6’1”. Maybe she needs to run a mile under 7:30. Maybe you’ve got to be able to read Russian Orthodox theology in its native tongue. And then someone comes and its as if he or she already had your list memorized.

Then before you know it, somehow you’re talking about lack of trust, some stupid thing you said that you know you didn’t mean and it still somehow came out of your mouth, and probably forgetting some semi-important date like her mom’s birthday, and it’s over.

But it was “The List”. The perfect-10 list.

In the couple months after the breakup, if there’s something I’ve learned is that the worst thing I could have done is have that list. What good person has ever been reduced to five qualities? What good relationship has ever been built around five paltry characteristics?

In my more honest moments, I wonder whether I wanted my 5-for-5 Jean so badly that I might not have even met the real Jean. Maybe the real Jean did compliment me well. Maybe she was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I’ll never know.

I think I’ve got one more week of relationship talk in me, but in the meantime, you know that notebook that you have? Yeah. That one. Tear out that page – the one in the front. I can’t help but think the person you’ve wanted is going to be much bigger than that page.



  1. Oh, Adam…so true, sadly so true! I know too many girls that have “lists” and have even contemplated doing one myself after some failed relationships…but I think you’re right. When we make a list and limit a person to that list, then we are limiting God and missing out on other parts of that person. Hmmm….definitely an idea to chew on and talk about with others! Hope you are well!


  2. I never created a list… never saw the need. Then I met someone who seemed to personify a lot of things I didn’t realize I wanted / needed around. Now I’m back to wondering what on earth I’m doing, period… wasn’t supposed to be this hard, was it?


  3. hello there, old friend.

    it’s strange. after (quite literally) a hell of a year relationship-wise, sorting through all that, and currently attempting another go with a guy i loved back in the days before i was slightly jaded (although i’m trying not to be)… i’ve figured that definitely, when it comes to love, it comes easy for some.

    for others, for WHATEVER reason, it just doesn’t.

    i sympathize with your ponderings and have a few of my own.

    outside of the recent breakup, i hope all is well for you. take care.



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