Expectations of the Perfect Partner

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Our students participated in an interesting set of workshops today. They were all off their usual timetable, instead discussing issues surrounding physical, emotional, social and sexual health. I spent most of the day supervising the sexual health workshops, which were predominantly focused on personal relationships and the expectations that each individual has of them.

The facilitator set the kids a really interesting activity. They were asked to draw out a shape in the form of a gingerbread man on a large piece of paper, with the title, ‘The Perfect Partner.’ Around the outside, they had to write the physical attributes that they would like, and on the inside, personality traits.

By the end of the third workshop, I had developed so many ideas in my head that I did the activity myself.

This was what I came up with:

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I’m in a long-term, happy relationship with a wonderful bloke, but being Little Miss Cynical I found myself thinking that the activity was perhaps setting false expectations for the students – surely there is no such thing as the perfect partner because there is no such thing as the perfect person? I mentioned this when I had a conversation with the practitioner after the workshops had finished, and there was something that she said that stuck with me for the rest of the day…

“None of the things that they all listed were impossible or unachievable – nobody wanted a partner that could fly or magic money out of thin air. The idea behind it is not to give young people false expectations, but to have expectations in the first place. By acknowledging things that they want in a partner, it gives them a chance to focus on two things: that personality is far more important than the way somebody looks, and that they will only be treated in the way that they allow themselves to be.”

She was absolutely right. Their ideas were not anything unexpected. Initially, the boys thought more about boobs and large bottoms and the girls talked about the importance of height and blue eyes, but by the time everyone had finished they had all filled the middle of their diagram with lots of ideas that would make the perfect personality.

I asked some of the students after school what they had gained from the workshop. One of them simply smiled and said,

“I am going to go home and do the activity about me instead of my perfect partner. That way, I know what sort of person I want to become and then I can expect exactly the same of my future boyfriend.”

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A lesson well learned, I think!

What about you? What would your perfect partner look like?

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27 thoughts on “Expectations of the Perfect Partner

  1. An excellent activity to end the year, maybe to end your teaching career. Any method of discovering ourselves, even by projecting our most desired qualities onto gingerbread men, can only lead to improving ourselves. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. What a lovely story you share with us. Thank you so much for another trick to add to my toolkit. Most young people, and even those not so young have not usually taken the time to do the internal work necessary to define themselves, nor have they worked past the externals to the internal qualities they would like to aim for and to seek in a mate.
    I love your posts because my sweetheart and I visited England two years ago and you keep reminding me of things I enjoyed on our visit. We stayed for three weeks across from Trafalgar Square and explored everything, including the out of the way places tourists don’t usually go. I’d say we averaged 6 – 8 miles walk each day. It was lovely and amazing. I’ve seen four versions of Once in musical theatre and yours was brilliant and flawless. Perhaps you think we are crazy tourists because we gawk at everything about your country. My country is a mere 200 years old. We don’t have any antiquity and no one will ever build as wonderfully as they did in older times. Thank you for helping keep those memories alive until we can visit again.

  3. I’m pretty fond of the dark hair/blue eyes combo and I’m a sucker for a bald guy… I think this is a neat exercise. I wrote about dealbreakers and that ended up being three posts…but when I sat down to write about what I really wanted (in a relationship, not in a partner, but along the same lines) it was much more difficult. I found it to be really revealing and though-provoking. I think setting out on paper what you’re looking for, within reason, will help you see when people aren’t going to match up. I tend to make so many excuses for men that I really needed to set out what I really want to try to put an end to my “poor taste in men” streak.

  4. Hi Suzie,
    This article you wrote made me think of perfection, and how sometimes we want a person or something to be perfect. In a relationship especially if you had a relationship that wasn’t so healthy or happy, people tend to look for perfection. I work with adults mostly, but when i work with children i realize how honest, upfront, and sometimes unscaffed. Its great to be honest and know who you are !
    Lori english

    • I totally agree! The idea of perfection, or at least how I viewed it before, often leads to dashed expectations and disappointment. However, what I realised today was that while perfection is unattainable, having high standards and knowing what you will accept and what you won’t accept will set clear boundaries in the future…

  5. Suzie I couldnt agree with you more there. I have a work colleague who was really pissing me off being bossy and today I put her in her place, she got all sulky but she’ll get over it. Insert Al Pacino voice here: ‘I don’t take no shit from nobody’

  6. I did the same activity myself last year and came up with attributes such as creative, spontaneous, calm, open and honest, strong, healthy, outdoorsy etc. Then had to list what I would need to interest a person like that. Makes you think because you should look at yourself first before you can ask it of someone else – as your student said. They are a bright cookie ..

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