How I Learned to Let Go of My List and Find Love
by Nikki Sylvers



April 3, 2019


7 Minute Read


How I Learned to Let Go of My List and Find Love

Courtesy of CreateHer Stock

I have always been a list person. As a child, I would scribble lists of grocery items that my mama asked me to remember for our shopping trips. As a teenager, lists helped me navigate homework due dates and assignments, and in college, I used lists to keep me on track with my ever busy schedule of classes and work. I relished them, worked to perfect them, and edited them to reflect my ever changing goals and tasks. I crossed off things when they were complete and tracked my life progress through a flurry of notepad strikethroughs.

I guess it made sense, then, that when I started dating, I applied the same list making skills to create a master list of traits for my potential mate.

My first list was in 6th grade. I wrote down “My Future Husband.”

My first list was in 6th grade. I wrote down “My Future Husband” and underneath jotted down all the things I wanted him to be.

“Tall, funny, nice, a football player.”

As I grew up, I constantly updated my list to reflect the new things I was interested in or felt were valuable in a mate. In middle school, I was into punk music so, of course, my future husband had to like that too, and in high school, he definitely needed to be an honors student. As I wrote and rewrote my list I even started to list out my life.

“Married at 23, baby by 24, 5 kids, 2 houses.”

My life on paper reflected perfection, and I relished in plotting out the age at which I would get there.

My life on paper reflected perfection, and I relished in plotting out the age at which I would get there.

In college, I continued list making and subconsciously started dating according to the lists I made. I went through a phase (again) where all I dated were football players, followed then by business majors, and then basketball players. Every guy I dated was at least 6’2” because my list mandated that I needed someone over that height to feel secure. Date after date, I pursued guys who were, on paper, exactly what I wanted, they checked every box, but in real life, each relationship fizzled out and never lasted.

Courtesy of @themelodiestewart

When I turned 26, I decided to let go of lists. Tired with what I was getting, I figured, “Let me just go for what is out there and hope for the best.” It was fun, it was freeing, it was eye-opening. I met a lot of great guys and began to find out that there were a lot of qualities outside of my list that I wasn’t considering. I had nothing listed in terms of personality, how I wanted someone to treat me, or any other redeeming and lasting quality. As I began to date freely, I became more aware of these traits and learned what I liked and didn’t like. Even better, by putting down my list I was able to interact with a person in the moment, fully take in what they were saying, and watch their actions. This helped me to really discern the good from the bad.

As I continued this trend, I met many great men but no one that I was truly interested in. Then, that summer, I met an outlier. He actually was a mutual friend who became a coworker when I was hired into a new company. He was younger than me (a complete NO on the list), was exactly 5’10″ (another NO), and held a more junior role than me at work. While he was nice and a great friend, when it came to dating material — I knew he wasn’t the one.

Then, I met an outlier.

As time passed, and I grew more and more disillusioned with the dating prospects I did have, my coworker was apparently becoming more and more infatuated with me; he asked me out one night, and it was then that I had to make a decision. Do I hold out for the man who checks every box? Or, do I decide to try out the man who checks very FEW boxes on my list but in the months of hanging out has been a complete dream? Going against everything that was ingrained in my list making ways, I decided to take a chance.

Nikki Sylvers and her husband.

It was the best decision I could have made.

As I started to get to know my coworker in a romantic way, I realized that there was so much on my list that I didn’t know I wanted but truly needed. A man who was respectful of me and my time. A man who knew what he wanted from the jump (me) and let me know immediately. A man who loved and supported me in every way. A man who had a vision for his life and worked hard to make sure that it was a vision that included me.

Being with my coworker (now husband) was the greatest thing I could have ever done. By letting go of the idea of my wants, I discovered what I truly needed.

By letting go of the idea of my wants, I discovered what I truly needed.

I wonder, had I stopped writing lists much earlier, could I have avoided so much drama? I realized that my lists were holding me back instead of empowering me. Even the items on my “deal breaker” lists weren’t as important as I thought. How often do we talk about age once we are in a relationship? Or height? Financial situations and job titles change every day, so you can’t place your eggs in that basket. But what doesn’t change? A man’s true character. His integrity. His morals and values. Those are things that are needed.


Newsletter Signup

Join the fam.

Be the first to know about all things Black Love. Black Love returns August 10th at 10pm on OWN.

*I have read the Terms & Conditions for this website.