When I was a lot younger and more of a hopeless romantic, I had a checklist of qualifications for my future boyfriend. I remember sitting in front of the TV with a friend while watching "The Notebook," excitedly writing down traits that we found attractive. I wanted some impossible combination of Ryan Gosling and every other attractive male celebrity. As I got older, I realized I was not going to find a man with the body of a model who got my sense of humor. I held others to a higher standard than I was willing to hold myself to, and so my relationships failed.
Now that I am older, more experienced and maybe a little bit wiser, I know that I can't go into love with a shopping list in mind. Setting my expectations far beyond anything attainable is not going to bring me something real and worthwhile. As cliche as it sounds, the best relationships, romantic or even platonic, can be found where you least expect them.
I didn't join a club to meet people or scour for potential romantic partners; I joined because I was passionate over what the club was about, which was writing. I just so happened to meet my now-boyfriend there. I attended the meetings to have a weekly space to work on my fiction and poetry, and we just clicked. I didn't impose my junior high checklist on him, I don't fault him for perceived shortcomings; I accept him as he is, as I would want someone to do for me.
I wouldn't want others to look at me and only see shortcomings. I can't be faulted for not meeting someone else's unrealistic expectations (something women deal enough with in society). By that thinking, I can't put that onto someone else. I am realizing more and more that with age comes experience. I may only be 20 (and a half) but I feel like I've learned a lot in the past few years, and that's shaping me into who I am going to be. My romantic life is only one aspect of me, and I'm working to make it as positive as possible. So, to quote Bo Burnham, "If you want love, lower your expectations."