Would you agree that most people spend more time doing research for a new vehicle purchase or during a job search than they do when choosing a friend or spouse? I would!
In the days of old, people would pour over the classified ads, highlighting, circling, and tearing out the stand outs. Nowadays, the method might be a little different, but the concept is the same. Dig and dig and dig until you find exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’re searching for a sport utility vehicle, you aren’t going to dissect the luxury sedan section. Nope, you look in the appropriate listing and scan for details – year, mileage, engine, etc. If you’re an office administrator, you’re not going to find a job in the engineering section, so you stick to the ads specific to what you do and compare location, hours, qualifications, responsibilities, growth potential, benefits, and salary.
You narrow your search engine and hunt for exactly what you are looking for. Except in relationships.
Our relationships are often born out of circumstance or emotion, not necessarily through planned, well thought out, intentional searches. Sometimes this works out… and sometimes it doesn’t…
We shouldn’t leave such an important commitment to chance.
The amount of effort and purpose you exert is directly related to your level of success. And if classified ads work for cars and jobs, why not give it a try for friends and spouses too?
Oddly logical, right?
Search for what you want.
Stand firm on the non-negotiables.
Compromise on the relatively unimportant.
Relationship Via Classified Ads
What qualities are you looking for in a friend? Verbalize them through an ad!
“Looking for a friend with mutual interests to spend time with and talk to. Must be trustworthy, dependable, and fun! I want someone who will hold me accountable. Must be able to speak truth in love AND allow me to do the same. Would prefer someone who enjoys working out, bible study, and chick flicks! Fair weather friends need not apply!”
Interesting concept, right?
What about when searching for a husband:
“Looking for a mature Christian husband who has a desire to enjoy a lifelong honeymoon with just the right lady. Must be a real ‘grown-up’ with career employment and financial stability. Are you outgoing? Like to travel? Easy going and fun? Family oriented? Then I’d like to meet you! If you don’t want children, then I’ll pass. Dancing is a plus but not a must. Light social drinking is okay, but smoking is a deal breaker. Must be affectionate, loyal, trustworthy, motivated, and dependable.”
Getting the idea?
Think of the fun you can have writing ads. Try one of your own!
Now, on the flip side, write an ad for someone currently in your life who possesses qualities you don’t necessarily appreciate:
“Looking for a moody girlfriend, filled with jealousy and self-pity. I prefer a loner who cringes at the thought of socializing. Don’t want to carry your weight? That’s okay, I’ll carry it for you. Not interested in church? Eh, not a big deal. God knows I love Him and that can be enough. Combative and difficult personality types preferred. Dressing in other than sweats optional. Marriage even more optional. Commitment issues okay. Gambling ‘interest’ (AKA ADDICTION) doable. Seems most people have some hang-up, so if this is yours, I’ll just deal with it. I’ll complete you. I’m really not looking for a team player; rather, just need a breathing body to share space with. True joy is just a guise for those who pretend it’s something it isn’t. I’m a realist, so if you just want to suffer through life together, or at least put up with each other until our kids are out of the house, then I just may be your dream guy!”
Eye opening, isn’t it? EXACTLY the point!
Obviously, this last classified ad is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but how many people are actually living with relationships they wouldn’t ‘intentionally’ seek out? Unfortunately, far too many.
Years ago my sis and I verbally constructed an ad for the guy she was actually dating. It went something like this:
“Looking for a guy, dumb as a box of rocks, but thinks he knows it all. Must want to be the center of attention at all times and think he is far funnier than he actually is. I prefer someone who likes to tell others what to do but has no initiative to get himself moving. The perfect guy should enjoy mooching off others and have a sense of entitlement as big as his ego.”
We were dying! Totally busting up in fits of giggles with tears streaming down our cheeks and maybe a bathroom run or two. The truth, however, was extremely telling and incredibly impactful. What a terrifying reality check. Needless to say their relationship didn’t last, thank God!
To Run Or Not To Run
Of course I’m not suggesting to actually ‘run’ one of these ads. They are for your personal, private use, but constructing them will promote more awareness, insight and intentionality in your choices, thereby producing better results. Now THAT’s encouraging!
Whether you’re in a relationship now or seeking one, the following tips can help:
- Looking for a relationship? Try a different approach! Write a few classified ads and make an intentional effort to find people who actually fit the bill. You don’t have to tell them they’re being interviewed; operate in stealth mode. As you work through the process, you’ll naturally step back from people who just don’t measure up and will be drawn to seek those who do.
- If you’re already married or in a relationship, write an ad for it as it currently is. Then write an ad for what your heart desires. Encourage your significant other to do the same. Then ask yourselves, what will it take to get us from where we are to where we want to be? (We are making an assumption here that the goals are reasonable and healthy requests.) Writing down and following specific Action Steps* will give you both a game plan for improving the standard. If you’re working collectively towards the greater good, it can only be a means to a much more joyful, fulfilling, and successful end!
- If you aren’t married and you determine the dating relationship isn’t worth salvaging, cut your losses and intentionally seek out a better applicant! Yup, you guessed it. Declutter Now! and write a new ad!
Perhaps you aren’t looking for anyone or anything? It’s still smart to have some ideas swirling around in your head so you aren’t caught off guard and guided by impulse alone if an unexpected meeting occurs. “Semper Paratus” my former Coast Guard husband always tells me. “Always Prepared”
*Need help with your Action Steps? Click here for an Action Plan template you’ll find useful! Need personal one-on-one or couple to couple coaching? Click here for details or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
** The concept for ‘Classified Ad’ writing came from Are You the One for Me?, Beverly De Angelis, Ph.D..