By Nicolle

Last week, I had four regular blog readers ask me about my “list.” One article I linked to commented that for the list of characteristics you require in a mate to be realistic, it should only be three qualities long. Since I’ve been reading and researching relationships, I’ve deliberately contemplated those three spots. I’ve weighed my options: What do I want to include? What can I live without?

While I’ve never been the kind of girl who has a “type” of guy she dates, if you’d asked me last year what I was looking for in a guy, I would have rattled off the typical characteristics – has a good sense of humor, is taller than me, treats me well, likes animals, gets along with my family, accepts me, thinks I’m pretty, likes to dance, has good taste in music, challenges me, is intelligent. Looking back on that list, I’ve now come to realize that it’s pretty flimsy. It’s shallow in thought process; most of my characteristics couldn’t hold their own in a fight and they’re kind of mundane.

Plus, most of those qualities don’t get at true characteristics that define and dictate a person’s behavior. For example, while “treats me well” seems like a great list-maker, I want someone who treats me well for a deeper reason: He’s selfless. Selflessness is a better quality to include because it impacts all aspects of a person’s actions, not just how s/he treats others.

In recognizing that my list is flawed and in an attempt to live by the opinions I purport, I’ve limited my list to three characteristics. I’ve also tried to limit them to deep qualities, qualities that define a person’s behavior. One of those qualities is self-awareness. Self-awareness, or the capacity for self-reflection, is vitally important to a person’s self-development AND how s/he interacts with others.

Without self-awareness, we can’t understand why we react to situations as we do. We can’t grow as people without the capability to see the reasons behind our actions, the reasons that go deeper than moods or feelings. And without the ability to differentiate between our feelings and why we feel certain things, we can’t relate to others in a way that gives us further insight into ourselves and others.

And the ability to relate to others breeds empathy, which breeds self-sacrifice, which breeds understanding, which breeds acceptance. So, if I pick a deeper, subjective characteristic like self-awareness, I’m actually reaping the benefits of many positive character traits because of what self-awareness leads to.

So, my list is limited to penetrating qualities, qualities that impact everything else about someone’s personality. And that will get me a lot further than holding out for a full head of hair, a fetish for kittens or a love of the new Arcade Fire album.