Whether we’re out searching for our ideal partner, building relationships with friends, or already happily settled in a 50-year marriage, it’s no surprise that we spend the better of our lives seeking affirmation from the people around us. On a recent trip to Seattle, we gave ourselves plenty of “nothing” time–time to really back away from our busy day-to-day lives and think about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, where our lives our headed. Every night at the hotel, Richard would look over and grin when he saw me just sitting on the bed and hugging my pillow, thinking.
He called it pondering time, and (apart from the donuts, and the reunions with friends, and okay maybe the pizza) it was probably the part of the day I looked forward to most.
Between blogging and baking and schoolwork and teaching and working, I hardly give myself much down time to think any more, so it quickly became apparent that I had a lot of catching up to do. For starters, I had no idea I had so many thoughts about friends and life relationships to sort out–and visiting all these new places and seeing so many old faces gave me plenty to think about.
One way I like to gauge my development is to periodically play a game we called Three Attributes. You start by listing the top three traits you looked for in an S.O., and each one is supposed to reveal something about not only your ideal mate, but yourself as well. If you’re interested in playing, I’ll give you the breakdown so you can try it for yourself before I do the big spoilers:
So you start by picking your top three traits for a significant other–this can be either your ideal potential one or the one you already have. Keep in mind that this works best if you’re specific, like “I look for a thoughtful person who will keep our relationship alive by remembering ‘little’ things like the first place where we ate frozen yogurt together and surprising me for no reason.”
You can be general about each trait, but obviously you’ll get more out of this exercise if you can offer examples of what you have in mind. This game is also great if you can lasso in another person to join you to bounce off ideas–plus you might be surprised to learn what your friends prioritize!
When you’re done picking three attributes, scroll down………..
What Attribute #1 Reveals About You: While this is the #1 trait you look for in an S.O., you might be surprised (or not) to learn that other people perceive of you as possessing this trait, too.
What Attribute #2 Reveals About You: You perceive of yourself as possessing this trait.
What Attribute #3 Reveals About You: You possess this trait, regardless of how others view you or how you view yourself.
Now, before we finish, think of one final trait that you value in your partner…….ready?
Trait #4 is the trait you actually value most in your ideal partner, and did not think of the first time around.
Phew! We’re finally done here. So how did you do? If you’ve made it this far, share your results in the comments below!
The first time I played this game four years ago, my attributes were 1) compassionate/kind, 2) thoughtful through small gestures, and 3) able to push me beyond my comfort zone into new adventures. My fourth trait was honest, which really was the trait I should have put down first.
During last week’s pondering time, however, I tried the game again. Had the traits I valued changed at all? After giving it some serious thought (I was informed that I spent over an hour ignoring R in creepily silent thought–whoops!), I decided they both had and hadn’t. My new traits are: 1) Realistically but unconditionally supportive, 2) compassionate/kind, and 3) thoughtful in both big and small ways. My #4 trait is still honesty.
And that’s when it hit me. While not much has changed, the past few years have enabled me to foray into new territories and uncertainties–both professional and emotional–that I never thought I’d encounter so soon. As a consequence, having a reliable support system is something I’ve come to both appreciate and become more conscious about giving to others more than ever.
No matter what traits you choose, I hope you all take a little bit of time to yourself in the coming weeks, whether on vacation or just a bit of thinking time before you turn in for the day. As for me? Now that I’m back, I’ve decided to spend my pondering time in my kitchen, making my 7th batch of these in two months. (Yes, there was no good segue for that thought!)
I’m serious, though! After our Seattle trip, I realized how important it is to think about yourself, and to do it in a way that makes you feel rewarded and self-supported. These Healthy Pumpkin Banana Breakfast Cookies have no added sugar, no butter, no oil, and can even be made gluten-free. They’re perfectly moist and spiced and packed with oats and seriously constitute 90% of my breakfasts-on-the-go these days. So dooooo it. Show yerself some LOVE, people!
Okay, time for the big reveal: what four traits did you pick, and do you agree about what they say about you??