At any rate, the following is a rather lengthy list that came about through conversations with both of these folks, among others.
1. Someone who makes me want to stay up until 4:00 am just talking to them. This is the one item that's been on my list for as long as I can remember. It is an absolute.
2. A willingness to have children, or, bare minimum, discuss the possibility. It doesn't have to be right this minute, but fifteen years from now is, biologically speaking, much longer than I can wait. I'm 35. I'm sick of screwing around. I want kids, and, as I'm in my mid-30s, it's gonna have to happen pretty soon.
3. An openness to some kind of future. Yes, I'd like to get married. No, it doesn't have to be tomorrow. It doesn't even have to be next year. I find that, culturally, we are programmed to always be looking toward "the next level," relationship-wise. I'm not down with this. I like to enjoy the moment, and be happy with what I already have. That being said, I do want to know that, at some point, a potential boyfriend will want to live with me, and perhaps somewhere down the line, marry me. Marriage isn't an absolute requirement; eventual shacking up is.
4. Someone who treats me nice. Someone who acts like they're happy to see me and hear from me. Someone who wants to know about me and my life.
5. Someone who will show that they think about me. Little gifts, notes, emails, that kind of stuff. I don't need diamond bracelets or fancy floral arrangements. The occasional "I saw this random little thing and it made me think of you" will do nicely.
6. I once read a book about relationships. Under the heading "This is how it's supposed to look" was a story about a woman who was afraid of clowns, and her partner, who took great pains to make sure that she was never around a clown. Her partner didn't want to see her scared, so he did what he could to make sure that she wasn't in a situation that would frighten her. I'm afraid of balloons, and my friend Mike always makes sure to stand between me and any balloons that might be hovering nearby. This isn't about clowns, or balloons, or even fear; it's about wanting the kind of person who would *care* if I was unhappy.
7. I'd greatly prefer a vegetarian or vegan. It's not required, but it makes life much simpler.
8. Political awareness. He doesn't have to boycott every evil corporation and recycle every scrap of paper, but a general sense of why it's bad to shop at Wal*Mart would be nice.
9. Intelligence. There's nothing sexier on a man than smart.
10. Trustworthiness. When I share my secrets with someone, I won't tolerate them being thrown back in my face or aired publicly if we have a fight. Sharing my secrets with someone gives them greater weapons to hurt me with. I need to know that I can trust my partner to never do this.
11. Emotional Supportiveness. I've been working toward quitting smoking for a while. When I get involved with someone new, I tend to quit, in large part because I think the "I'm in a relationship therefore pregnancy is a possibility" maternal gene inside my brain kicks on. I want someone who will be supportive when I am at my weakest.
And two new additions to the list of Requirements, inspired by divinetailor's comment below:
12. Attraction. Someone who I find attractive, and who finds me attractive in return.
13. Sexual Compatibility. I once dated someone for whom S&M was a lifestyle, not a hobby. As much as we loved each other and connected with each other, it just didn't work.
And updated with another requirement of my own:
14. Emotional Maturity. Someone who is willing to look at themselves with an objective eye. Someone who looks not only to the fulfillment of their own needs, but with a concern for the needs of others. Someone who is not only willing to ask the questions, but to do the work.
1. Addiction and/or daily use of anything more mind-altering than cigarettes or food. I used to think that daily use of alcohol or marijuana was no big deal for me. I was wrong. This rule does not include healthy stuff (nutritional supplements, yoga, meditation). It probably does include religion (I could probably live with a Buddhist but probably couldn't live with a practicing Christian).
2. Any use of cocaine or heroin at all whatsoever. I used to be a junkie. I used to be a coke fiend. I absolutely cannot be around cocaine or heroin or I *will* start to use again. If I meet somebody who uses coke or heroin infrequently enough that he can stop using it altogether in order to be with me then fine, but under no circumstances can I ever be in proximity to either drug ever again.
3. Polyamory. This includes wanting an "open relationship," "looking for something casual," wanting to "just hang out," etc. Any variation of "I'm not *really* your boyfriend" or "I *am* your boyfriend but I'm fucking someone else."
4. Allergic to cats. I have three cats. My best friend is allergic to cats, and can pretty much never be in my apartment for more than ten minutes at a time. Unless it's totally manageable with medication, being allergic to cats makes life way too complicated.
5. Rigidity. Having ideas and convictions is good. Having a closed mind and an unwillingness to admit that you might have been wrong about something is not.
6. Any of the evil isms or phobias. Racism. Homophobia. Sexism. Just ask the guy who complained to me about JAPs. He was deleted from my buddy list before he'd even finished talking.
7. Anything that would fall under the heading of "violence" or "abuse." Yelling, screaming, name-calling, and, of course, physical violence. Everyone fights. Ideally, when someone reaches adulthood, they should understand that the object of fighting should be to listen, and be heard, and, ideally, come to a resolution. The object of fighting is *not* simply "to win."
8. Violence toward animals. I once dated a man who was into guns. The only reason this was possible was because he only used them for shooting at paper targets on shooting ranges, and not, as he put it, "killing Bambi." I understand that many good people have done these things in the past, forced in childhood to accompany fathers into the woods with rifles. I can accept this. I cannot accept a partner who still does this of his own free will. And "violence toward animals" includes being mean to your pets. If a man sees nothing wrong with kicking his dog, I can only imagine what sort of behavior he would find acceptable when he was angry with me.
These requirements are somewhat negotiable. The key word is "somewhat." If someone has a daily glass of wine with dinner, well, I may decide that's not an issue. If he's really squirrely about the idea of marriage, but is down with shacking up and calling me his "partner," I may be willing to budge on that. But I am no longer willing to give up my entire list just in order to make someone else feel comfortable, and *especially* not if they're not willing to make some compromises in return.