Hi. My name is Erin, and I have a fear of winding up alone. Actually, this isn't quite true. I have a fear of winding up in a house occupied by me, fifteen cats, and daydreams of what might have been. I have a fear of being visited by Animal Control and informed that I haven't just surpassed the number of domestic animals allowed in a single-family home - I also have the minimum number of cats required to be officially classified as my block's Crazy Cat Lady.
Regardless of whether or not this fear is irrational, it sometimes leads me to make some less than ideal choices. I've been known to get attached to the first guy who comes along, even if he isn't the best fit for me. I sometimes compromise too much, trying to make him fit when it's obvious he fits me about as well as a size 2 minidress (i.e., very, very badly). And I sometimes put up with more crap than I should, for much longer than I should, because I want to believe that if I just try hard enough, it will work (or he'll change, or he'll realize how awesome I am, etc. etc. etc.).
In an effort to keep my criteria for a good partner in mind, I'm starting a series of posts about these ideal qualities. Some are requirements while others are nice-to-haves, and they are all things I value and would like any future boyfriends to have. I have no doubt this list will wind up serving as a reality check for myself when I sense I'm compromising too much. And really, that's not a bad thing.
Quality #1: Follow Through (or, Reliability, or, Not Being a Jackass)
If he says he's going to call me, I expect him to actually pick up the phone, dial my number, and then speak to me on the phone. If he says we can hang out this weekend, I expect him to get in touch with me and actually try to hang out this weekend (barring unforeseen circumstances, of course). And if he says he wants to date me, I expect him to take me on some actual dates - not go pick up a copy of Avatar on Blu-Ray, grab a six-pack of beer, and then call me at 8:30 on a Friday night to ask if I want to come over. That is not a date. That is lazy.
Now, to be fair, I do realize that sometimes things come up. He's at work, the boss dumps something on his desk at 4:30pm and tells him he wants it back by 9am tomorrow, he freaks out and pulls an all-nighter and totally forgets to call when he said he would. Or he really wanted to hang out this weekend, but his grandma fell off her snowmobile and busted her hip and now he's rushing home to North Dakota to visit her, so he needs to reschedule. These are all understandable. I get it. But when they happen every single week (or every other week, even), I'm a bit less understanding (or I should be, anyway). These sorts of things should be the exception to the rule, not the norm.
And Avatar on Blu-Ray? If he's been dying to see it, picks it up at Target, and thinks, "You know, I bet Erin would like to watch this with me. I'll just give her a call to see if she wants to come hang out," that is fine. Sweet, even - he thought of including me in his everyday life. How thoughtful. But not everything we do should be last-minute. It would be nice if he made an effort to make plans with me in advance. This could be as simple as calling me on Wednesday (heck, I'll settle for Thursday or even Friday noon) and saying, "Hey, I'm planning to [insert random casual activity here]
on Friday night. Would you like to join me?" I do not require big fancy evenings at high-end restaurants every time we do something (although occasionally those are fun too). What I do require is some consideration and the assumption that my time is just as valuable as his.
I don't think this is terribly unreasonable. Like I said, I understand that sometimes things come up, or he just wants to do something laid back and chill instead of planning some big night out on the town. Great! Me too! But the thing I am inflexible on is this: I will not be taken for granted anymore, I will not be treated like I am not worth his time or energy, and I will not let myself believe that that behavior is acceptable from anyone I'm involved with.