By Izabelle Azevedo
Romance. That person who will hold your hand at the park, make you laugh, and (hopefully) be good in bed. When looking for a guy (or a girl), what are the qualities you hope to find? What do you pay attention to?
I heard once (or maybe a few times) that I was “too picky with boys”. Wait! Shouldn’t I be? Don’t you realize this is the one person who will impact your future the most? What if he thinks a woman shouldn’t curse or travel by herself? What if he wants kids? What if he doesn’t like the fact that I’m an independent, ambitious woman? Shouldn’t these facts be considered?
As I heard from this Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Women are raised to aspire to marriage.” Not that marriage is a bad thing, it can be on your ‘dream list’. But our aspirations should go beyond that. I know mine did, and still do. In a society that rushes us to find “the one,” especially after a certain age, that urgency can take us to falling for the wrong person for the wrong reasons: fear of being alone, being at the “right” age to have kids and outside pressure.
So when looking for “my person,” I remember many times I changed my own behavior so the guy I liked would like me and keep me. I was rarely my true self in his company. To be honest, I know many people who do the same. But how can this be sustainable? What happens later on?
Another thing I noticed as time passed was that I had big goals. I didn’t want to have children and I wanted to live abroad. Of course we’re constantly changing. As some plans fall apart, we change our minds. But having some clarity about your future, verbalizing the things you want as well as the things you don’t, is an important step before making any kind of commitment. Here is a personal example I shared on my ebook “Living By Design – First Steps To Live Life Your Way”:
“When I met my now husband, I had just turned 28 and was more than sure I did not want kids. Just a month after we started dating, I brought up this conversation just out of curiosity – and also to know if he wanted to have children. I couldn’t be with someone who wanted something I didn’t. If you are dating, thinking about sharing a future together, I believe it’s important to be straight up about your desires and theirs. Be honest with each other…get to know that person — their view for the future, their values, their heart, and their mind. Seriously, if we invested in this kind of background check before committing to a wedding, I’m sure divorces rates would drop.”
Almost five years later, I still don’t want to have children. I still have a lot of ambition, hunger for freedom, a passion for traveling by myself – and I curse a lot. I’m not perfect (neither is he!) and we have lots of differences. But the person he met back in 2014 was a girl who decided to be herself and was starting to believe and speak her truth. That girl knew she couldn’t be with someone who wouldn’t accept her for who she was – a crazy Brazilian feminist, who treasures her freedom more than anything. And at 27, I finally realized that.
So I’ll end this piece with a little unsolicited advice. Pay attention to the person you’re dating. Speak your mind, share your goals. Be yourself (as much as possible, because I know that it takes practice). See how he/she reacts, connect what he/she says. Don’t wait until you’re six months in! Why not do it in the beginning? You’re both adults with the same goal in mind: getting to know each other and maybe be together for life, right? So let’s try not to waste anyone’s time. Because that idea that “people change?” Well, most of the time, they don’t. If I married someone who wanted kids, I’d be divorced by now. If I had married a guy who doesn’t want his wife to travel on her own, I’d also be divorced by now (or sucking it up and feeling unhappy).
Know your values and invest in self-awareness. Getting to know someone else is fun, but knowing yourself is liberating – and it’ll help you find a better match! My most important value is freedom. The same way I’m happier being my own boss, I’m also happier being with someone that respects my freedom and doesn’t try to cut my wings. Last but not least, love your own company more than anything!
Izabelle Azevedo is a multi-passionate entrepreneur, content creator, and founder & creative of Red Skirt Media. She’s an explorer of possibilities, aspiring writer, and a girl trying to live an intentional and creative life. She shares her truth and journey on her personal blog, and on her IG @itsmissizabelle.