List Guy vs. Heart and Soul Guy

I’ve been contemplating motherhood. I go in and out of really wanting to be a mother. I attribute much of my vacillation (in this and many other matters) to my being a Gemini. I may really feel like I want something one day, and be totally repulsed by the same thing the next day. It can be quite frustrating to the person trying to figure me out. I figure if I go in and out of wanting to be a mom right now, it might not bode very well if I really do have another person for whom I must be responsible 24-7-365. I’ve come to a compromise: I’d probably be a better step-mother than mother.

No. Seriously. Think about it. It’s really a pretty good gig. I don’t mean “baby mama drama” step-parenting, but responsible step-parenting where all the adults involved are normal and, at the very least, respect each other and want what’s best for the children. I’d have no stretch marks (well, no additional stretch marks) or hemorrhoids, but snuggles and someone to cheer for at baseball games. I think it could be pretty nice. Contemplating step-parenting has helped me to realize that what I say I want “on paper” and what I really want in my soul are in conflict with one another. This is a red flag for me. It’s a warning sign that I’m not being honest with myself about some things. Or that I’m afraid of something.

Life’s circumstances have thrown me into this independent woman role. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I had a lot of growing up to do in many, many ways. Being on my own, without a parent or husband to lean on, has forced me to be responsible in areas I got away with being a slacker before. I appreciate that. I feel like I’ve learned how to be an adult: to take the good with the bad, to be resourceful, to get on despite disappointment, to plan and to accomplish goals. I am finally at a place where I am certain that I will be OK in this world all by myself. I don’t want to be alone forever, but I don’t for a second feel like my life will somehow end if I find myself without someone to share forever with. There are some really amazing pluses to living alone and being unattached. I get to indulge selfishness. It really is all about me because, well, there is nobody else to consider. I like that most days. And then, there are the other days…

I have an idea of the kind of person I’d like to share my days and nights with, but he is two. There’s the “List” guy and there’s the “Heart and Soul” guy. List Guy is comprised of attributes, accomplishments, achievements, demographics. I think my List Guy is a big fat lie. There are things on my list that I say I want, yet, I don’t find myself drawn to the guy of the list…or maybe he’s not drawn to me. The ListGuy isn’t really in my world. I don’t run into him in my work. He’s not the friend of my friends. He’s not they one who catches my eye on the Metro. It may be that I’ve never met a List Guy. Maybe I’m not in the right circles to meet him. Who knows? But then there’s Heart and Soul Guy. Heart and Soul Guy is rough around the edges. He’s naughty in ways List Guy would never consider. He’s honest and doesn’t put on airs. His honesty reveals things that absolutely wouldn’t make the list, but somehow I don’t care. He is, after all, honest.

List Guy will make the parents happy. List Guy would make dad comfortable. List Guy would get nods of approval and thumbs up from the friends. List Guy would bore me to tears, I think, after a while. List Guy makes me wonder whether he’s too good to be true. List Guy makes me feel skeptical, makes me always wonder if there’s something beneath the surface that I’m missing. List Guy feels like an effort to avoid ending up with Ex again. I really think that’s what the list boils down to. Somehow my little brain computes that if List Guy hits all these points on paper (that just happen to be everything Ex wasn’t) all will be well with the world. I never wanted Ex to be perfect. Just honest.

Heart and Soul Guy is risky but fun. He follows his passions and is not conventional. Heart and Soul Guy lives outside the box and creates his own drum beat by which to walk. Heart and Soul Guy sees my vulnerabilities. He knows what he wants in the world and goes after it. Heart and Soul Guy knows what it means to be a man. Heart and Soul Guy appreciates that I am a woman. He knows there’s a difference. Heart and Soul Guy doesn’t take advantage of my giving, nurturing nature. He cherishes it and makes me feel safe as I give. Heart and Soul Guy sees beyond the tough, independent facade. He knows I don’t need or want to be taken care of. He’s OK not taking care of me. Heart and Soul Guy connects with me on level that can’t easily be put into words. He gets me. I get him. I can’t make Heart and Soul Guy make sense to everyone, but I feel no need to make excuses for him. He possesses a “rightness” that I will just know when I’ve found it.

List Guy ignites no fire in my heart (or loins) when I think of him. He’s safe. He appeals to my need for security. He appeals to the ideas of normalcy I’ve internalized. He’s really quite cookie-cutter to be honest. List Guy doesn’t have kids (hence, no baby mama drama). Heart and Soul Guy’s loving fatherhood captivates me and stirs my soul. Heart and Soul Guy is very little of what is on the list, maybe a few things, but he makes me laugh. We never run out of things to talk about.

It’s really quite simple, you’d think. Fuck the list.

I’m not at a place where there’s room for either guy in my life, but I really find myself wondering what I’m looking for when that time comes. I know too many people living miserable lives that look great on paper. I don’t want that life. I want to be true to me, not to what looks good to anyone else. And I don’t want to give in to my fears. List Guy answers all of the things I’m afraid of. There’s no apparent risk with him. That is so unrealistic, but it’s so hard to break away from the idea that if he is just these few things…I can avoid more pain and heartache.

As much as I know I can’t build a life to protect me from pain, I struggle to recognize when I’m building a fortress. Sometimes I see it immediately. Other times it takes a bit longer to see.

In my heart and soul I want to love passionately and freely. I want to be completely vulnerable. I want to connect on a spiritual level. In my heart and soul I want to laugh until I pee. I want to admire beauty and character. I want to have the time of my life. I want to taste life and see it in his eyes. I want to feel alive. I want to know palpable goodness. I want to risk letting down my guard for these things. I want to be able to risk opening myself to experience all of this, even if it means it ends in disappointment. I will have risked. I will have lived. I will have loved. It will have been good.


12 thoughts on “List Guy vs. Heart and Soul Guy

  1. Great post, Lexi! And the last paragraph should be everyone’s manifesto, the requirements that cannot be compromised.

    When I was very young, there was a guy – we’ll call him David – who On Paper was everything I was raised to think I should be looking for. And he was my best friend and first lover. I even adored his family. BUT (and I can’t make that any bigger, but it was HUGE,) there was simply no chemistry for me with David. I tried to fall madly in love with him for years between other boyfriends, but I didn’t.

    It doesn’t sound as if you need to be reminded, but just in case, it is not your parents, friends, or anyone else who needs to be happy with your partner. Listen to their opinions, of course, in case you’ve missed the small matter of his being an ax murderer or something, but in the end, just listen to your own heart.

    It won’t steer you wrong. (And he’ll be incredibly damn lucky to get YOU.)

  2. @ Heart

    Thanks, Lady.

    Chemistry is so important. It makes me wonder how many times I’ve allowed myself to be talked out of it for something more “acceptable”.

    There are people (not prospects, necessarily)in my life that just remind me that I am alive. I have friendships that stir my soul. I can never again settle for less than that in a partner. And, when I think about it, even if he doesn’t measure up to what someone else may want for me on paper, no one will be able to argue their point in the face of my true happiness. (And [sticks out tongue] if they do).

    I will listen to my heart from now on. I’ve cleared out a lot of the junk that was muffling its voice, so I should do better the next time around.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  3. List Guy is, to steal a phrase from Kwesi, living life looking in the rear-view mirror… thus, making it impossible to freely move forward. In other words, an attempt to avoid a repeat of the Ex.

    Burn the List!! Lists work for grocery shopping and time management and little else.

    What’s this about List Guy being easy to explain to others? Since when is that important? When we see happiness in your eyes, that’s all that will matter. Criteria Schmiteria!

    Furthermore, if it’s any consolation, I ended up with Heart and Soul Guy who happened to meet all the requirements of my List. So it is possible to have the best of both worlds. Of course, he didn’t quite measure up to everyone else’s lists, but again — screw them! I’m happy!

    You will be happy with Heart and Soul Guy too!

    *stepping down from soap box*

  4. I always go for the heart and soul guy. Chemistry is essential to living life to the fullest with someone else. You’re just settling otherwise.

  5. If you’d like some practice with motherhood, you can come over here and pack me a lunch every day. I like my crusts cut off.

  6. Well Lexi, I have to agree with Katrice…burn the list! Passion and chemistry are important. And being able to talk and laugh are even more important.

    I guess you know where I’m leaning…

  7. One of the hardest parts about being a grown up and an intelligent woman is realizing the difference between what your heart tells you and what your brain tells you. And trying to make the right decisions based on those facts.

    I dated list guy. He got on my damn nerves. I married heart guy. He gets on my damn nerves but at the end of the day he’s who I want to fall asleep next to and grow old with (That is if I don’t kill him first)

    I want someone who makes me feel passion. Who will playfully smack me on the ass when he comes into the room. Not someone who will bore me to tears.

  8. Very nice post!

    By the way, it’s wonderful being a step-mom — not all the adults get along but hopefully that’ll come some day. The sweet part is the relationship with the step kids.

    It’s wonderful being a biological mom too. I have the best of all of it!

  9. @ Katrice

    I think you’re absolutely right about looking in the rear-view mirror. It’s becoming easier not to be so reactionary in my responses to things that remind me of him. But ironically, I think that choosing a list guy (my effort to avoid Ex again) will ultimately end up being the very same situation all over again. Can’t have that!

    @ Debbie

    And no more settling!!

    @ Mist1

    See, cutting crusts off of bread would drive me nuts.

    @ tanilan

    Yep. It seems we have a general consensus here. Thanks for stopping by.

    @ let’s pretend

    So, what you’re saying is that anyone I pick is going to get on my damn nerves, but so what if he makes me see stars??

    @ djn

    You really do have the best of both worlds. Do you think you’d feel any less fulfilled if you didn’t have your biological babies??

  10. Lexi, what a great post!

    I used to date based on the list. And then I found that the list changed as I went from person to person.

    And then I found myself falling into a relationship with someone who was totally inappropriate in so many different ways, and I realized that there was probably no way that it would ever work, and wondered why I was dating her in the first place, apart from the sex, which was really, really good.

    And now it’s a few years later, and we have a kid, and I sometimes find myself chilled by the thought that I might somehow have missed out on the one I ended up marrying. I think my biggest worry is that I could have somehow screwed this up by clinging to my list.

    I guess the ultimate thing is that our lists are based on our understanding of ourselves. And, while this understanding might occasionally be on the mark, it’s usually way off.

    Again, thanks for the thought provoking and beautiful post!

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