How “The One” Changes Overtime

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a guy friend on “the one”. I asked him if guys have an image of “the one” in their head when they are in their twenties and does it change? He thinks that “the one” for a lot of guys starts off all physical. It’s the perfect 10…purely looks. As they have relationships they learn what they don’t want on an emotional or more complex level. I don’t want someone who is manipulative or I don’t want someone who is materialistic or I don’t want someone who puts their job ahead of family. According to his theory, the guy ends up with a woman who doesn’t hit any of negatives and is actually easy to be with on multiple levels. In the end…someone who cares about him and shares his values…by process of elimination.


Women on the other hand have been known to start out with a whole list of things we are looking for then overtime re-prioritize the importance.  A scene from the movie “Up in the Air” reflected this shift.

23 year old:  Sometimes it feels like, no matter how much success I have, it’s not going to matter until I find the right guy. White collar, 6’1, college grad, loves dogs, likes funny movies, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance but is outdoorsy. I always imagined he’d have a single syllable name like Matt or John or Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a 4 runner and the only thing he loves more than me is his golden lab. And a nice smile.


34-year old: honestly by the time you’re 34, all the physical requirements just go out the window. You secretly pray that he’ll be taller than you, not an asshole would be nice. Just someone who enjoys my company, comes from a good family. Someone who wants kids, likes kids. Healthy enough to play with his kids. And hopefully, some hair on his head. I mean, that’s not even a deal breaker these days. A nice smile. Yea, a nice smile just might do it.


So a nice smile really does it! A bit of a simplifiaiton perhaps. Settling some other women may say. But in both the male and female case it’s really about getting to the same place…older and wiser and realizing what really matters. It takes some people a lot longer than others…but that’s usually when a relationship gels. When you really get to know yourself. As someone told me you have puberty when you are in your teens but emotional puberty can happen at a much later date.

The chat with Honestly Now (good fodder this week), reinforced that our criteria for what makes a good partner changes over time as we start to understand what our values are…and the importance of valueing ourselves.


“In my 20’s I was always worried if what I did was working for the guy. At 30+ it was about is it working for ME!”

Another women went by the two list approach:  Make 2 lists. Nice-to-haves, and Non-negotiables. For her, overtime, hot looks became NTH. A nice person in love with me was NN. Such a consistent theme.


One women I know, Type A, gorgeous inside and out, met her husband in her late 30’s after several relationships with suitable Type A types (e.g. the type that is always in a suit). She made the comment as she was sharing her 40:20 Vision that she never would have given her now husband a chance in her 20s. She cared about looks and ambition and would never have seen that this kite-boarding, business owner and child at heart was not just a “laid back surfer dude”. Actually he was just really good at life balance. He taught her to be a little more laid back…knowing that as loose as it may look, he actually had them covered.

As you get ready for relationships…look at your list and start thinking about what really matters the most. And maybe give some guys a chance to prove you wrong!

“Probably the same way that you shouldn’t be so confident and sure about who you are, that your identity is defined. You shouldn’t be so sure about who they are. I look back and see I was very superficial about how I made my choices and I probably missed out on a lot of guys who were great because I wasn’t looking for the right things. I was looking for image or a presence that wasn’t honest. This time around it’s completely opposite” – 40-something, divorced, in a relationship


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