Finding the Courage to Define What You Want in a Partner

By Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy
Michelle Kennedy


Shortly before he ripped my heart out and held it in front of my face, my ex-boyfriend told me he loved how un-jaded I was.

“You’re so optimistic and open…so joyful. So many women out there are jaded bitches,” he said, before verbally beating me down to a shell of my former self. I’m just kidding. It wasn’t that bad. Maybe.

When I look back (several years) on the situation, I see that I wasn’t un-jaded; I was young and naive. Not knowing what I wanted, I picked a guy I wasn’t compatible with. I actually did that too many times to count. Today, things have changed in a good way because I finally found the courage to define what I want.

On dates, I stay in the moment and actually listen to the words coming out of his mouth. If he leads with: “I’m moving to Finland, I’m fairly self-centered, or I don’t want a relationship right now,” I’m out. I even ask good questions like, “What do you mean exactly when you say you are self-employed?”

Mature Michelle takes his word for it, leaves the word “potential” in outer space where it belongs, and avoids swan diving into swimming pools that might not have any water in them. That doesn’t make me jaded; it makes me smart.

We grow up when we are brave enough to define what we want. For years, I couldn’t define what I wanted in a relationship because insecurity told me it was almost too limiting to do so. Also, if I said I wanted a guy who was this way, and then met a really hot one who wasn’t that way, I’d have to practice integrity and walk away.

That is difficult to do when endorphins are flowing and your brain tries to convince you that him living with his wife, even though he promises they are broken up, is not that big of a deal.


Your “What I Want” list doesn’t have to be long, but I firmly believe making one and sticking to it will bring you closer to finding your person. Gaining clarity into what you want in a partner will also save you and the people you meet a lot of wasted time.


Defining what we don’t want in a relationship isn’t being mean. It’s showing self-esteem and strength in decision-making about your life. For instance, here is some of my list. I want:


  1. Someone who Believes in God and has a Sense of Spirituality – This is a big part of my life. I want to share this with my partner. I want to be able to meditate and maybe stop on that Joel Osteen when I’m flipping through channels because I find him to be quite inspirational, and not have my partner think it’s dorky. By owning this, I am not for one second saying that people who don’t believe the way I do are wrong. I am only saying I will be most evenly matched with someone who believes in something bigger than us. If I say this and date an atheist, I’m wasting our time.
  2. Someone who is Happy with his LifeHe is committed to being his best self. Not every day is perfect, but he knows who he is and where he’s going.
  3. Someone who knows how to Play, Relax, and do Stupid ShitI’m kind of goofy and like dumb movies, dumb jokes, and jumping on trampolines. I try my best to balance it out. I want to share this with my dude as well.


My list is much longer, but this gives you an idea. We aren’t getting all picky about hair color here. We are owning our deepest truth about compatibility with our mate. What do you want?

This task isn’t easy because it will likely force you to take a good hard look at yourself. If you say you want a hardworking person with a house and you are unemployed and living on your cousin’s couch, you might need to look at a few things. I couldn’t get clear on my list until I got clear on myself first. The clearer you get on yourself, the more your list will change and evolve.

Until you figure these things out, you might continue to meet people you are sort of compatible with, but not really. There are so many fish in the sea. Why bother wasting one more second with the wrong person?

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