Having been single for a faintly ridiculously long time now, I have more and more time to think about what I want in a relationship, should one come my way. “It’ll happen when you least expect it,” say the people in relationships, the people who think they’re qualified to say so since their singleness ended 6 months after their last relationship ended, or in the aftermath, when they were too whiplashed and reeling to be ready.
Oh my sweet summer child, I think. Such ignorance. Such innocence. I am the traumatised veteran of singleness. You don’t know man. You weren’t there.
Because the thing is, the longer you’re single, the more you think about WHY you’re single. It grows like a lengthening shadow until it consumes you and it’s pretty much all you’re thinking about, when you’re not filling your quota of daily thoughts about sex or if you locked the door and when is bin day, anyway?
It’s easy, when you’ve been single a while to let your ideals run wild like an overgrown garden. You watch too many romcoms, you read books where people meet and a choir of angels sing, their souls reach out and embrace and there are fireworks in the sky and everything is bloody beautiful. Being realistic is hard. Thinking about the give and take and the daily things that annoy the hell out of you, even in the person that you love, is difficult. He never remembers if you locked the door or when the bin day is, he’s always thinking about sex, argh!
So I could easily say that my ideal man would be kind and curious and funny and honest and passionate. He would never lie or mislead me. He would make me laugh till I cried but he would try his best to never make me cry tears of anything but laughter. He would have books – books and books and books – dog-eared with the tops of pages folded and bits underlined that he thought were funny, or interesting, bits that he was desperate to tell me about. He would never make me feel stupid or small or ridiculous for the things I liked or was interested in, the clothes I wore or the music I listened to. He would get on well with my family because he’d love them and they’d love him, but he’d also understand how important that is to me. He’d think that making a baby together is the most amazing thing two people could do, mixing up our genes in a little oven I’d carry around in my belly and making another whole living person with thoughts and ideas and loves and foibles, and isn’t that amazing?
My perfect man would sing while he cooked and drove the car and pretty much every moment in between. He’d love growing plants and painting the walls bright colours and books about vintage motorbikes. He’d dance like he literally could not keep still, hike mountains and climb trees and oh, incidentally, he’d look like Kit Harrington.
I could say all these things, if I was putting together some kind of shopping list, but the truth is the only thing I want in a man, is – other than all-important attraction and connection that is a necessity, as amorphous and invisible as that is – kindness.
I want a kind person, because all the other things come with it. A kind person will want to make you laugh, just to hear the happiness right there in your voice. A kind person will be curious, because kindness is a by-product of curiosity, because looking at the world and asking questions and trying to understand is hard, and cracks you wide open, and other people’s joy and sadness gets in, which makes you kind.
A kind person is curious, and looks at the world and asks questions and tries to understand, and it cracks you wide open which makes you vulnerable, and they know how it feels to be bare, the fontanelle-soft bits of your soul laid out at their feet, so they will always support, never mock, because they are wide open too.
A kind person is honest, because they are curious, because they look at the world and ask questions and try to understand, and it cracks them wide open, and they know the pain of deceit but it hurts like a deft knife between the ribs every single time because they are shaken to the core with the understanding that not everyone is wide open, not every one is looking and asking and trying to understand.
And a kind person is passionate, because they are curious, and honest, and because looking at the world and asking questions and trying to understand cracks you wide open, and things get in, little things, under your skin and wiggling into your heart when you lie awake at night, until you can’t help but learn more, or try them for yourself.
And a kind person is ambitious, because they are curious, and passionate, and honest, and they look at the world and ask questions and try to understand and it cracks them wide open, and they want to do better, to achieve everything they can in this life. They know that regret does not make you kind – regret turns you inside out until you can’t see the world anymore, to ask questions, to understand, to care.
A kind person loves, because they are ambitious, curious, passionate, honest. A kind person looks at the world and everything in it and it cracks them wide open and breaks their fucking heart with its loveliness and its sadness, and they understand that this is it. This is all we have. And it may be huge but it is not endless. So they love, because they understand how rare and wonderful it is that we even exist at all, even as tiny single blips of light in the universe – but to orbit another, to be part of a family or a group, a solar system of tiny, brief, flickering lights, is nothing short of magic.