Searching for a Unicorn: The Perfect Partner Paradox
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Ahh yes. It’s the early stages of a blossoming interest. You’re asking questions about their opinions, future goals, hobbies — but whether it be on the first date or tenth, eventually the question comes up:
“So, what are you looking for in a partner?”
Most of the time, people respond with the simple things: a sense of humor, a kind heart, a taste for adventure. But sometimes, it’s this:
“I want someone who is confident and has high self worth. I don’t want them to ‘need’ me, or be codependent. I want them to just be them — like a best friend! There’s no labels or quotas, just us being us.”
Sounds lovely right? We all want that. But we probably want it, because it’s about as real a unicorn. Let’s break this down:
Better to be Alone than to Be in Bad Company
“I want someone who has high self worth. I don’t want them to ‘need’ me or be codependent.”
Great! Who doesn’t? Confidence is very sexy. And codependency can breed unhealthy attachments. But confidence (not to be mistaken with charisma), comes with knowing your worth. Meaning, those who know how they deserve to be treated, won’t settle for less.
So the whole ‘no labels or quotas’ thing probably won’t float. People with high self-worth know all too well that they’re much happier alone, than when being taken for granted.
Let’s be Friends
“I want them to just be them — like a best friend!”
This is the bacon, lettuce, and tomato in between the two slices of moldy bread. We all want our partner to be our best friend, in fact, there’s nothing wrong with this statement at all — when on its own.
Make sure you listen to all of what they’re saying, not just what you want to hear. When I was starved for intimacy, this delicious center was enough to make me take a bite from a moldy sandwich. We’re human, we get hungry, we all make mistakes.
Extended Warranty? How can I Lose!
“There’s no labels or quotas, just us being us.”
When Bart Simpson gets a crayon rammed back up his nose, the last thing he says before returning to his dopey self is: “Extended warranty? How can I lose!”.
“No labels no quotas” sings the same tune: “If it’s not a labeled relationship – I can’t get hurt!”
Well, it depends on how well you follow that contract. We can all admit that, the more long conversations, memories, sex, and laughter you share, the more feelings you catch. And if unchecked, you’ll be caught re-reading that ‘no labels no quotas’ line, while the other party flirts with a new person. It’s their extended warranty. Not yours.
So maybe, you’re a bit mad. Mad that you’ve bitten into a moldy sandwich. Mad at the unicorn seeker, for wanting to have their cake and eat it too.
If you’re a unicorn seeker, you’re mad that these same people want to change you or make you feel guilty, even though you were honest about not wanting a commitment.
So who’s right? What’s the solution?
Boundaries and Standards: Knowing what you can and can’t handle.
For the Wannabe Unicorn: Have Standards.
Admit that you’re human. You’re not here to fit perfectly for someone else, argue your worth, waste time, or win a challenge. You’re here to be loved for who you are. So be honest about what you really want from a connection, and have the courage to leave when those standards aren’t met. Their refusal to meet your needs is not personal. They’ll be ok, and you’ll be ok.
For the Unicorn Seeker: Have Boundaries.
You’re right. You were honest, and you’re not required to take responsibility for other people’s feelings. But there’s a difference between honesty, and integrity. Honesty is being truthful with your words. Integrity is being truthful with your words, and your actions. So if you don’t want a relationship, don’t play in the relationship sandbox. Without committing to your own boundaries, you’ll say what you mean, sure… but you'll never do what you say. And that flaky reputation isn’t healthy for anyone, including yourself.
So. To the unicorn seekers, the sandwich biters, the contract signers, and the connection lovers – I ask again: What are you looking for in a partner?
That’s a question only you can answer. But sticking to your boundaries and standards will help you find something far better than any unicorn in a fantasy.
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Written by Emily Grush, Chief Creative Director of Karmascore