Growing up in Nigeria, the thought of marrying or being in a relationship with someone outside my tribe was such a huge deal that I never even imagined marrying someone from a different country or outside my race. However, moving to New York, the melting pot of diversity, it would almost feel like a loss of opportunity to not explore a relationship outside of a community or country of people I am already familiar with.
One of the big questions I have found in the pursuit of love and romance is whether to be in a relationship with someone who compliments you or has many similarities as you. Some people think finding someone who is the Ying to your Yang and matches you like a puzzle piece is the way to go. Others believe someone who is very much alike to you in terms of values, experience, social affiliations etc. would be the best fit in seeking a relationship. These are the kind of people that might religiously use or possibly abuse the “do not be unequally yoked” verse in 2nd Corinthians.
In a conversation with a friend, Tolu Akinyemi about the idea of love and matchmaking or the pursuit of the best-fit in a relationship, one of the important conclusions we arrived at is – the most successful relationships are between two people who agree and can meet each other’s needs. Yes, even the unconventional, politically incorrect, or seemingly immoral relationships. This is why even the relationships that follow the norms or look right sometimes don’t work out because the two people can’t fulfil each other’s true desires, needs, or expectations.
Tolu further gave the example of how you may find a sugar daddy (a rich older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman in return for her company or sexual favors) who just wants a trophy wife. Simultaneously, you’ll find a young woman who just wants a rich man to lavish on her, and that relationship can work out because those two people:
Finding what you want for yourself and from another person can come in different forms. The most conventional is the “5 love languages” that people explore.
There are other people who prefer to create their “ideal man/woman/person” list. So, a female can say he must be dark chocolate, handsome, with the three sixes – 6 figures income (in dollars or pounds), 6 packs, and a sexy credit score who is ambitious. Some people won’t stop until they find someone who matches that list, and others, may compromise along the way, choose or settle for something else.
I was listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s book titled Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. As part of the book, he sampled a speed-dating experiment and how within seconds, people knew who they wanted to pursue further. The experiment was also to discover – how people know what they want in a significant other or if what they say they want is indeed what they want. In another experiment, he analyzed what factors and sub-factors makes a relationship last longer. So, with a factor being communication, the questions to find the sub-factors will be - what about communication, how and when it is delivered can contribute to the success of a romantic relationship? And communication isn’t limited to the verbal and obvious cues. The non-verbal ones imbedded in the subconscious can be more powerful because a couple who seem to be effectively communicating may not last long or forever. I’ll urge you to read the book to find the outcomes of the research and Malcolm Gladwell’s conclusions.
Some people, on the other end, go with values established by social institutions. So, for a devote religious person, you may find them only choosing to marry within their religion regardless of how yucky their partner is. You may find another person only marrying within their racial, cultural, or social communities. And there are some, within cultures who are married by parental matchmaking.
These several perspectives have led me to conclude that there isn’t just one way to choose or find the one. Several ways fit several people’s desires. And what works for one person may not work for another. What worked for your parents or a member within your cultural affiliation or well-knit community may not work for you, and that is alright. However, the consistency in all these diverse options to ensure a successful relationship is the knowledge of what someone wants, the ability to effectively communicate, find, and pursue it.
Additionally, in the past centuries, where people were heavily dependent on their immediate communities, the idea of “dating” wasn’t as rampant. So, you’ll find that you may have parents or grandparents didn’t need to date a lot of people to find “the one.” Their well-knitted social construct may also have been effective in helping them to figure out what they were looking for. Compared to now, in an age whereby there is a global connection both online and in-person. We have too many options that we may not easily know what our type is.
I was discussing with a friend about a month ago that – growing up in Nigeria, the thought of marrying or being in a relationship with someone outside my tribe was such a huge deal that I never even imagined marrying someone from a different country or outside my race. However, moving to New York, the melting pot of diversity, it would almost feel like a loss of opportunity to not explore a relationship outside of a community or country of people I am already familiar with.
Because of the availability of diversity and options today, dating is necessary. Unfortunately, the idea of dating has negative connotations and stereotypes. There is the pressure to know or find “the one” too quickly and just marry them. Dating has the benefit of helping you to figure out your type. People also define dating differently. Some people define dating as just going for lunch or dinner with someone else or having adventures with them – this can be with the same or different gender. Some define dating as saying yes to be someone’s boy/girlfriend – to some, this is courtship. I choose the former definition – the food path especially.
I remember at the beginning of discovering what “my type” is – I was willing to settle until I went on a dinner date with someone who out of the blues, mentioned the future I imagine for myself – without me prompting him. I was like damn!!! So, I am not the only one who thinks like this. I ended up going on many food and book dates with this person, and that experience encouraged me to feel grounded in what I have identified as my desire in a romantic partner. It made me feel very sure of myself. However you define dating, do it safely and with a goal of discovering yourself as much as your type. You don’t need to date the whole world to figure out what you want; however, you should not be slut-shamed for how many people you date towards finding a long-term partner.
Your type may also change seasonally or depending on transformations that happen in your life. What used to be your type 5-years ago may not be your type now or in the future. So, when creating the list, you may want to depend more on consistent characteristics about the ideal romantic partner that would be least likely to change regardless of the transformations in your life. That way, there will be sustainability in the relationship.
So, what’s my type? Before I answer that question, I have realized that I am the type of person who feels driven by someone who has as much similarities with me than differences. In finding my type, using the 5 Love Languages isn’t my priority; it is a bonus because I think I can compromise in that aspect and my love language changes per season. My type: dark chocolate, handsome, with the three sixes – 6 figures income (in dollars), 6 packs, and a sexy credit score who is ambitious. Yes, I am that girl lol. There is more though… the serious long list is very personal and something I plan to share with the significant other only.
While this blog post may lead you to see love as a transactional relationship between two people – I want to urge you also, to view it otherwise because there is something that seals the transaction even much better. It is saying, I know the most important things or qualities that another person whom I can deliver to, can fulfil in me. And when I choose this person, even if I find something enticing out there or connect with someone else who can meet the least important desires, I will still choose this one person intentionally. Hence, a together, forever.