The other day, I was sitting with my SO and we were reflecting on our relationship (1.5 years now), and I can't remember how it came up, but I think I mentioned that I'd grown since the time I'd known him, and that I'm still growing, and I realize the things that I used to want in a relationship I don't actually want and things that I didn't think I wanted I really appreciate having.
He asked me who my ideal SO would be.
And I couldn't answer him. I know he's conscious of the differences in our spirituality and probably wonders if one day I'll wake up and decide I'd rather be with a more-practicing man and leave him on his way, especially when I get to talking about religion (even if I'm bemoaning certain elements). I feel like the answer I gave him would have only upset him.
Because, really, I've never thought long enough to formulate an ideal. My ideal man was always someone who would fit well with me. Someone who would make sense in my life, my practice, with my belief, and that was it. It takes actually being in a relationship to realize how selfish that view is and realize that it's never that simple with another, complex, whole human being at your side that you're relating to.
And just because I've waited and was prayerful and feel like I'm a really good person, doesn't mean I'm going to be the perfect SO. In fact, I spent so many years by myself, I still find myself being self-centered and forcing myself to put myself aside for a little bit to really hear my SO's point of view, his hangups, his problems.
Not that I'm usually a selfish person. Of course I know how to be a good friend and I do this for friends all the time. It's just...I guess I always imagined a relationship while being alone and relatively self-sufficient, so spending time with someone in the flesh who is filling that role after imagining it alone for a while makes it hard to get outside of myself and those imaginings and relate to the person on the other side of the dream.
So I feel like whatever I imagined as the ideal man or the ideal relationship before was fairly one-sided, as if there were a human man out there whose sole purpose in life was to be my eventual husband or something. And of course I never expected someone to be like that, but when one creates an imaginary man in their brains, he doesn't tend to have aspirations unique to your own.
What would be a better soul mate then one who also believed in care for the underserved, here and abroad? Maybe...
The fact is, the possible "ideal" combinations with me as a person are endless, but they are, regardless, combinations that I do not find often in nature. And implicit in my SO's question is his wondering if I'm settling or not, if I can do better or not.
And I guess I could imagine a lot of different types of men. Of late, I think it would be cool to travel to Brazil, specifically to Salvador, and meet some guy at the faculdade who was really into Nigeria, specifically Igbo culture, and therefore be fascinated with me, my family's history, my religion, and things go from there...
But I don't think about those things anymore. I don't construct ideals anymore because I have something real that is good, that works, that is better than I could have imagined in the package that it came in. I have before me a real man who has lived 6 years before me, has lived 33 years independent of me, has dreams and goals that do not involve me, and yet is now intimately interwoven in my life and it just seems silly to prefer to be with an imaginary man of my own making.
Whether or not I could "do better" is I guess up for debate, but I don't think I can fabricate an ideal. Not right now, not while things are so real.