Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Love Checklist by Karen Rock


The Love Checklist- by Karen Rock

It’s a perennial debate. One that goes back as far as love has existed. Do we fall for the people that meet our expectations, or do our expectations change when our heart leads the way? Many of us have a folded, dog-eared mental checklist of what we must have in the perfect mate. These traits guided us when single, helping us select our partner for life. Yet does 100% compatibility guarantee happiness? Emily Dickinson said, “The heart wants what it wants— or it does not care.” Does that give us license to follow our feelings, and ignore logic and reason, when we meet someone who takes our breath away? Or is love something that can and should be approached methodically?

When dating, I had an informal ‘code’ and even a test to determine if a guy was a ‘keeper’. Introducing him to my pets was the first task. It was crucial he liked animals. Important that they felt the same way about him. My pets were my family and no one came between me and those who loved me unconditionally. Another task was settling up the dinner bill. I know this is controversial, but on a first date, one in which I’d been invited, I hoped he’d offer to pay. It showed a generosity in spirit that I looked for. A third task was asking something a bit embarrassing that I already knew about my date from another source. If he answered honestly, points in his favor. If not, adios. No room for liars in my life. Listening to me spiel girl power doctrine was another test to pass. I didn’t want a man who wasn’t strong enough to handle an equally strong woman.

 

True story: My husband Greg, of 21 years, and I saw a Julia Roberts movie on our first date. We’d barely taken our seats, shared some popcorn, and watched the end of the opening credits when poor Julia’s submissive character was beaten by her controlling husband. I turned to this relative stranger beside me and said, “If a guy ever did that to me, I’d cut his important bits off.” I held my breath, watching Greg in the gloom. As a corrections officer, my husband works up close and personal with dangerous criminals. It’s a macho job and I didn’t know what to expect. However, he simply nodded at my vitriol and said, “good.” My heart melted on the spot. A strong man who admired a strong woman.

Despite this, he still insisted on paying for our dinner, didn’t miss a beat when my Irish Wolfhound, Sport, nearly knocked him over at the end of the night, and confided that he’d shared a bedroom with his sister since eight children had to share two bedrooms in his mother’s house. It’s little wonder I agreed to get engaged six months after our first date. In truth, I knew he was the one within a week. Still, Greg doesn’t fulfill every one of my ‘must traits’. He doesn’t enjoy classical music concerts. Isn’t big on nature hikes. Was happy to have only one child. Will take spontaneous detours on vacations I’ve meticulously planned.  I’m not sure what our compatibility score would be, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.

In my September Harlequin Heartwarming release, SOMEONE LIKE YOU, Kayleigh Renshaw struggles to make sense of a broken engagement with her boss that upends her life. Recalling how her parents divorced due to incompatibility, she decides to create a smart phone app that will let people input their dating ‘must traits’ and check, before wasting time on a doomed relationship, how compatible they are. Her software designer and longtime friend, war veteran Niall Walsh, isn’t so convinced with her logic, but he’ll help her out— because of their friendship— and a dark secret he’s under orders not to reveal. This friends-to-love story challenges these two characters to figure out how to accept their new feelings for each other, even when it’s not rational or logical.

Now it’s your turn. What’s guided you in making decisions about love? Do you have any ‘must traits’ for a partner? Answer in the comments section below, and include your email address, to be entered to win a copy of SOMONE LIKE YOU. I’ll announce the winner on this post tomorrow as well as on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/karenrockwrites . If you are interested in preordering SOMEONE LIKE YOU before Sept 1st, Here are the links: Print Book : http://bit.ly/1oN6puy  Amazon Kindle : http://amzn.to/1o9Bz0S  B&N Nook :  http://bit.ly/1gmWXxg  Kobo : http://bit.ly/1qRegXE I can’t wait to hear you thoughts!

 

51 comments:

  1. I love your wedding picture, Karen! Thank you for sharing it. You were a stunning bride.

    I had to laugh about your "informal code" for dating. When my husband, Ken, and I first met, we hit it off right away (and of course he paid for dinner), but between us we had three dogs: large, medium and small (by our standards). I had Casper, an Alaskan Malamute (L), Kylie, a German Shepherd (M), and he had Buster, a yellow Labrador Retriever (S). Ken has a tendency to down play the significance this many years later, but if our dogs did not get along, it's doubtful that we would be a couple.

    Fortunately, our dogs got along beautifully right from the start and over the years developed an incredibly strong bond. In fact, Buster moved in with Casper, Kylie and me before Ken did! It just didn't seem fair to have Buster travelling back and forth all the time, and he loved to "hang with his best buds!" They were best friends and each other's protectors for life.

    It's worked out very nicely for us, too!

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    1. K- your story is adorable. Three dogs- big ones at that- is a nail biter... if they don't get along- what to do? It's kind of a deal breaker. But your pets knew best and now you and Ken couldn't be happier!

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  2. I think it's really important that your partner and pets get along! Just as I think friendship makes a wonderful beginning to a relationship. There are times when the romantic love isn't enough to overlook the faults and foibles of your mate. Those are the times when you need that friendship to keep going.

    I can't wait for your new book (already have it ordered). I'm eager to see how this compatibility app works and the dark secret.... Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you so much, Syndi I'm excited for you to read it :) And I absolutely agree that a friendship is key. Lots of things change as we grow older- our jobs, health, looks... but being friends... that's forever!

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  3. Oh, you are so funny. I started with many rules, but at the end parred it down to two.
    One, I had to be able to stand the guy 24/7. Really, I went on dates where the guys were clingers. I'd escape to the bathroom just to breath.
    Two, had to attend church with me.

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    1. Uh-oh! My sister Cathy and I used to call those guys cling-ons.... She got them mostly. I didn't have as much keeping men around as she did :) I agree, space is importance as is the need to want to be together and miss each other when you are apart. And sharing your faith- or at least accepting it- so very important!

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  4. Must love dogs. Must love cats. Must be honest, kind, and faithful. I figured I could adjust to anything else - I just wasn't ready yet! But when I was 23, 35-year-old Ron walked into my life, got serious right away so I broke it off, then missed him so much I'm the one who proposed!

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    1. Awwwwwwww! I didn't know that you proposed to Ron, Muriel. That is so incredibly romantic. You've echoed all of my 'must traits' too- I didn't mention kindness in my blog but is at the top of my list.

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  5. Looking forward to reading your next book. I don't think I had a list. I worked with one of Denny's sisters, and we rented rooms in the same house. She and her sister took me to the airport when he came home on leave for her wedding. They wanted to break up a relationship he had with someone they didn't like. We met, spent time together at the wedding, and within 60 days got married ourselves. My friends said it would never last. Were they ever wrong. Sometimes you fall and it all works out.

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    1. I just fell for your love story, Roz! I agree that sometimes you just fall and there's nothing to do but follow your heart. That's the issue at the heart of the novel... do our feelings count more than our expectations?

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  6. I didn't have a list, but I was a single mom whose year-old son burst out in a cheerful "Dadada" litany when Duane walked in for the first time. They had an instant mutual admiration society going on and I went along for the ride. Our friends didn't think it would last, either, but 43 years later, it's still looking pretty good.

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    1. WOW! Your son knew right away. That is incredible, Liz. It was a match made in heaven and 43 happy years together proves it! Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment.

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  7. I wanted a man who respected and loved his parents.

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    1. Ah- respect! So important, Dana. And that you wanted him to honor your parents is lovely. If he treats others, especially those you love, with care, you have a good sense that he'll do the same with you :)

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  8. I definitely threw my checklist aside whenever I experienced a connection with someone. And it's a good thing-otherwise I wouldn't have my incredibly cool and adorable son:) I think sometimes our 'logic' and 'common sense' are blocked by love-as the old saying goes-'Love is blind'. And sometimes that's okay:)

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    1. It's true, Jennifer! Even when the relationship doesn't work out, good things can come from the experience. A wonderful child, a lifelong friend, a lesson learned and a new perspective to help you when you do meet 'the one'. You have such a wonderful marriage now and every step you've made in life has led you to him!

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  9. I wanted someone who was willing to work out problems instead of divorcing. Turns out that both our dads were serial marrying men. We both have a huge respect for digging in and working things out instead of bailing (not that we don't respect that option as well, but as children of divorce and multiple blended families, we wanted something more permanent). Of course, it helped that he had beautiful green eyes.

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    1. Oooooh- those green eyes would have done it for me, too, Mel! But I agree, that the willingness to stick things out, to work through problems instead of run from them is a big contender in what we must have in our perfect partner! I'm so glad you found your HEA :)

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  10. Thanks, Karen. I don't exactly have a list of requirements. If a guy doesn't read the same kinds of books as I do or listen to the same kind of music, it doesn't matter. All that is superficial.

    The same goes for whether he likes cats (I have three). If he's a dog person, well, our pets will have to get along with each other. Hopefully without too many fights.

    However, what does matter are his politics and his religion. I don't usually discuss issues like this on a romance blog. But I must note that for many years, I lived with family members who vehemently opposed me on one or both counts. At best my family life was dysfunctional. At worst it was a living Hell.

    Obviously I can never let that happen again.

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    1. Absolutely, Mary Anne! You want your time together to be full of peace, not strife and nothing starts a bigger family falling out than a 'friendly' discussion about religion or politics. I've had those experiences, too. Looking at the kinds of books he reads is a really interesting way of evaluating a potential partner... I never thought of that back in the day... but it would be very telling. Good advice :)

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  11. For me it humor, humor, humor. When my husband and I were just starting out as friends, he would tell me jokes over the phone. Some dirty, some not. But he always made me laugh. He would also play pranks on me, too.

    Some things never change because next month we will be married 10 years and together for 15 years. He still makes me laugh and yes, he can still prank me.

    Marika/Harlie

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    1. Your husband sounds like an amazing guy, Marika! I love it when people make me laugh :) A man with a sense of humor is someone who is intelligent, doesn't take himself too seriously, and cares about making sure you have a good time. All A+s in my books! You have a keeper :)

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  12. My #1 "must have" was someone who would look into my eyes when he talked to me, instead of staring at my chest. As someone who hit a DD-cup by 9th grade, I was SO tired of being nothing but "the girl with the big boobs."

    #2 on the list: he wouldn't even look twice at any of my too-gorgeous-for-words sisters, who were so much more confident than I was and always stole the social spotlight.

    When I met my husband, he stared straight into my eyes while we spoke. And when I agreed to go to lunch with him the next day ... and my sisters (along with my parents, grandparents, brothers and 5-month-old nephew!) crashed our date ... his only observation was "They seem nice." I'm surprised I didn't know immediately that he was a keeper! (*giggle* it took 18 more days before I agreed to marry him)

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    1. OMG- how much do I LOVE your husband, Veronica?!! He sounds incredible. A man who fell for you and didn't let anything else distract him from getting the girl of his dreams. If I'd had a DD-cup in 9th grade, I would have been a dating skeptic, too. He is a special man to have proven that he's a cut above the rest!

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  13. For me, I need a guy who I like as much as I love. My husband has always been my friend and my husband, which is why we get along. We also balance each other out. He handles certain responsibilities and I handle others. It's nice to be able to rely on someone!

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    1. Reliant! Great trait, Amy :) It's tough to have a relationship with someone you can't depend on. It sounds like your husband is very lucky to have a wife he can count on to share responsibilities with him. You two make a great match :)

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  14. Aww, Karen, this was such a sweet (and heartwarming!) post. And I loved getting to see your wedding photo. Here's to love that doesn't always match everything on our "must have" list. :)

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    1. Agreed, Cerella! I tossed out my 'Must List' along with my wedding bouquet. Greg had enough of the traits and as for the rest.. they didn't matter. I loved him. Thanks for the warm words about my post as well. You are always so sweet!

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  15. I didn't really have a list before I met my husband (we were seniors in high school). I will say this, though. He was a friend first, and after twenty years as a couple, he's still my best friend. It's important to be with someone you enjoy spending time with and have fun with. He's very supportive of me (and vice-versa). We have things in common, but we each have our own identities and different hobbies--we're both individuals as well as a couple. I think we're a good balance for one another. And he can still give me butterflies! ;)

    Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. It made me reminisce about things like first dates and wedding photos! Since my husband and I were friends first, I love to read "friends to lovers" and I can't wait to read Someone Like You. And I agree with Cerella--I don't think anyone can completely fulfill a "must-have" list when it comes to love.

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    1. Hi, Christy! How wonderful that you married your high school sweetheart... one who was a friend first. That is a recipe for true and lasting love. You make a great point about how it's important to have your own hobbies and interests. If you did everything together, what would there be to talk about over dinner ? I'm so glad you like friends-to-love stories. I love them too and had such a wonderful time writing Someone Like You because of it. There's something magical about that moment when two people realize that their friendship could- and should- be so much more!

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  16. Karen, I love your wedding photo! You were a gorgeous bride and the two of you look so cute together. And your first date story is great!

    I didn't have a list (frankly, I was in college when we met and I had never dated before, so I was probably still too naive for lists lol), but I would agree with everything everyone has listed in the comments. This post has turned into a collection of the sweetest love stories! BTW, can't wait to read your book and I've already pre-ordered it :).

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    1. Oh, wow! Thank you so much, Rula :) I hope you enjoy the book! I think the consensus is that most of us follow our heart with a couple of crucial 'must traits' in mind. A winning combination :)

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  17. Hi Karen!! I love your wedding picture!! I know that movie "Sleeping With The Enemy" so well. That man made me want to jump through the television and slap him silly!! I had an internal list of qualities: he had to be willing to work hard to support our family, he had to be compassionate (especially towards women), he had to love me for who I am (not be superficial), he had to be faithful and trustworthy, and he had to love my then 3 year old daughter as though she was his own. I'm happy to say that he fulfilled all of these must haves and then some. The best thing I love about my husband is that I never get tired of having him around me. We are truly best friends even 20 years later. He is always so loving and supportive (especially when I'm in bed late at night with the light on reading a Heartwarming book!!). I love the sound of your book Karen...so creative. And you know I love the cover. ( :

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    1. Hi, Laurie! I'm so glad you stopped by :) I loved hearing your 'must traits' - they 're excellent and the kind of standard all men should be for their women! You mentioned how important it was for your husband to love your then three-year-old daughter and I can imagine, as the wonderful mom you are, that would be the most important trait! I'm so glad you found the man that deserves a strong, caring woman like you! And thank you so much for your warm words about SOMEONE LIKE YOU! I hope you enjoy it :)

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    2. Hi, Laurie! I'm so glad you stopped by :) I loved hearing your 'must traits' - they 're excellent and the kind of standard all men should be for their women! You mentioned how important it was for your husband to love your then three-year-old daughter and I can imagine, as the wonderful mom you are, that would be the most important trait! I'm so glad you found the man that deserves a strong, caring woman like you!

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    3. Congratulations, Laurie! You are the winner of my giveaway :) Please send your mailing info to me at karenrock@live.com and I will send the book when my author copies arrive- usually by the end of August- YAY!

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  18. Aw, so sweet, Karen!! Love the wedding pic.

    I had a list, but don't remember it, and I'm pretty sure that my hubby broke all the rules on it, so it's probably okay that I forgot it. :)

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    1. LOL- Danica you are too funny! Men do love to break the rules.... Still, you are happy and that's what really matters in the end :) thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  19. Love your list! I used to teach healthy relationship classes for high schoolers and wish I'd had it to share with them!

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    1. Hi, Patricia! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and commenting :) how neat that you taught teens about healthy relationships. It's so important for young men to respect their dates and young women to accept nothing less. I blame my lack of high school dating on Harlequin- haha- because none of the relationships I saw measured up to the ones I read !

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  20. Thanks for sharing your first date story. I always love hearing about first dates.

    My husband and I went to a party in college. He sat down next to me and we started talking. We talked about our childhood pets and our college classes. We found out we lived near each other even though we were away at college. When he called over Thanksgiving break, he asked me out on a date. He had to meet my parents and grandparents before our first date. I think that showed dedication and bravery that endeared me to him.

    We later found out that I dropped the college biology class his lab partner added. If we had met then, it wouldn't have worked out. So the timing was right and I haven't been at a loss of words around him since then.

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    1. I love first date stories, too , Tanya and yours is beautiful :) destiny had a hand in bringing you and your husband- a much more powerful force than a checklist! I love that your husband braved meeting your parents and grandparents on the first date . He 's a strong man worthy of an awesome woman like you. Thanks so much for sharing that lovely story with us :)

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  21. The MUST have traits that a guy should have for me is to be understandable and to have the same inclination I have in books. Hopefully, that someone will come into my life soon. But as for now, I'll prioritize my studies first. I'm still young and I am not in a hurry to find my soon to be partner in life. I believe that he'll appear when I least expected him to.


    alyssallanes@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi, Alyssa! I'm sure that guy will come into your life- unless you want him to read romance- lol. It sounds like you have a clear picture of what you want and I know you'll find him :)

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  22. Congratulations, Laurie! You are the winner of my giveaway :) Please send your mailing info to me at karenrock@live.com and I will send the book when my author copies arrive- usually by the end of August- YAY!

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  23. My mother told me don’t marry anyone with the intention of changing him. I took her advice to heart. But over the years this easy going, fun-loving person changed into a total control freak with a my-way-or-the-highway mentality that I couldn’t tolerate. It took a divorce to get me smiling again.

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    1. I should have signed my name instead of my email address: Marion Ruth Suess Ekholm. I only kept my ex's last name but I've been MRS since I was born.

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    2. Marion, that way of thinking wouldn't fly with me either! I'm glad you booted that guy out of your life! People change but that was extreme.

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  24. Karen, I love your wedding picture and the story of your first date is priceless. I would have had the same reaction. This guy is a keeper.
    I've had girlfriends who have had lists as long as your arm and never been happy. When it comes down to it, I still believe the heart knows what the heart knows and in the end, the heart always wins. Even when the relationship doesn't work out, if you really love someone, that doesn't go away. You can still love someone and not live with them.
    I have been blessed with my husband who is my best friend first and we've been through some thick and thin days...even now. He's been my best supporter!

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  25. Don't know where to start, animals are more keen then we are. That would be one test. The gentlemanly behavior would be another test. Give and receive to and for each without inhibitions or reasons because you love each and care about each other. Compromise. Work as a team. Respect the parents, but they let you grow in the relationship and don't pull your strings as a puppet. I have loved my high school sweetheart since Fall 1976, we dated for 3 years, we had a few ups and downs. The downs in the end, well, we stopped speaking to each other, but I have been around/woven by family since then, it has been hard. I hope he wakes up and realizes I am still here for him, as no one can hold a candle to him. I have been lost through the years and didn't know why myself, now I know. I have loved him all this time. May god bring us together, sounds selfish, but I hope for it.

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  26. It didn't post. Will try again. What I wanted in a date was commitment to me and me alone. I wanted a guy who would be a good Dad and provider. I put every guy I went with before God. It was a joke that if a guy made it to third date, they were married. Well when I met my husband I knew the moment I spoke to him he was one. He was the only guy I every kissed and we've been married 35 1/2 years. I guess I am a one and only because people cannot believe I married the only person I kissed and didn't play around. No I waited on God. jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

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