Since the airing of VH1’s ‘What Chilli Wants’, women have been exposed. When Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas ran down her infamous “list,” (requirements for a prospective mate) on her debut reality show, jaws all across TV land dropped. On the list: “gorgeous, sensitive, very charming, can’t drink, can’t smoke,” etcetera, etcetera. Her dream guy also had to be “packing” Does this man even exist?
While men and women alike tuned in weekly to give the TLC member the side-eye for outlandish demands, many women were secretly looking in the mirror having to admit that their own lists were a tad far-fetched. Some women’s lists are short stories, while others are epic fairytales. In CNN relationship columnist, Audrey Irvine’s “Ladies and ‘Perfect Man’ Lists,” she compared making lists in dating to “creating a recipe for a man as if you are making a cake.” She was dead on.
In several in-person, Facebook and Twitter discussions, I found that men have lists, too (they just may not be written down in pretty journals). If this is true, what are the major differences between what women and men want, if any? Do women expect too much, or are men just as guilty? Are these lists getting us ahead or holding us back?
What She Says:
I do think that most women want too much—take Chilli’s list as an example. You should definitely have standards, but don’t be superficial or unrealistic with your desires. A lot of women are looking for a man with a six-pack and lots of money, when they are broke with bad credit and out of shape. You attract what you are. – Katelyn, Non-Profit Professional, 30
Women have higher standards for they want in men in the short-term, while men have high standards for what they want in women in the long-term! Men will play the field, then find that one woman to marry. They stick to their guns more. Women sometimes change because we feel if we haven’t met the right guy by a certain age, our standards are too high, and we should change. Guys will seek out their mates for years before settling down. – Monica, Ph.D. Student, 28
I have not noticed a double standard in relationship requirements and lists. Sometimes men are confused about what they want, or they have unreasonable standards. Sometimes women are the same way. – Claudia, Engineer, 29
What He Says:
Damn skippy, we have a list: “Look For” and “Avoid”. Every guy is different. We have wants, needs, pet peeves and code reds, too. It also depends on your social standing: “beggars can’t be too choosy” versus “more fish in the sea”. – Travis, Graphic Artist, 31
Here’s the difference between men and women: The superficial things we look for in women for sex are the same things women look for in men as boyfriends and husbands. Men are just as picky as women when it comes to real relationships. We don’t all have lists, but we have to answer the question: Can I bring her home to my mama? – Cory, Architect, 28
Men and women want too much from each other. We no longer look for potential; instead we demand potential to be realized immediately. It’s almost as if women expect men to show up in a new car, fully mature, with swollen bank accounts and Olympic bodies. As men we’re just as bad, waiting for a Halle Berry/Beyonce hybrid to profess their love. The truth is the older we get or the more our environments change, the more our preferences and standards change. – Justin, Physical Therapist, 27
Perhaps a mile-long list isn’t needed to find and maintain a healthy relationship. Though the approaches may be different, both sexes ultimately seek the same results: love, trust and room to grow. So much for having that prized list framed and matted to hang over the fireplace. Even Chilli saw that her list was unreasonable by end of the show’s season. Should you know what you, as an individual, need and want from your partner? Of course, but what’s more important than the criteria on paper is the conversation between women and men about what are real and unrealistic expectations. There’s clearly a lot to talk about.
A list is made not only to check things off, but to analyze, edit and reflect on when necessary. If you must keep one, rather than the law of the land, think of your list as your favorite childhood storybook: a mix of fantasy, fiction and reality. Will yours make for a happy ending?