by: Aly Walansky
I am a single girl – never married, and thus never divorced, and even still, when I paged through Ginger Emas’s Back on Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce (Globe Pequot Press, May 2009), I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and be inspired all at the same time.
One of the major instructions of this book is creating a “man file”. Even before discovering what one was, I wanted one… and I went right to the source.
“I recommend that every woman – single or divorced – create a man file. A man file has two parts: A list of non-negotiables and a list of must-haves,” Ginger shared.
As our chat went on, I learned that non-negotiables are those things that you absolutely will not put up with in a man, such as violence, cheating, lying, abuse, financial irresponsibility. On the other hand, must-haves are the things a guy must have in order to be in a relationship with you.
Ginger says she interviewed dozens of women and what typically tops the must-have list is sense of humor and intelligence, followed by chemistry (some women put this first!), kindness and a steady income. Your man file can also have “nice-to-haves” – things like enjoys kids, went to college, lives a healthy lifestyle — these may not be must-haves or non-negotiables, they’re more like extra credit.
Obviously, everyone’s man file will be different. While mine may include creative and edgy, yours may include good cook and pet-lover.
Why is something like this so important for all of us single girls out there? Quite simply, a man file is more than what kind of guy you want; it’s about who you are now. It gives you the unique opportunity to take the time to consider the kind of partner you want — not whom your friends or parents or children think you should be with.
“We are different now; we change after we’re married and divorced; we should honor that. For example, the first time around, being with someone who was of the same faith was important to me. Today, that’s not even on my nice-to-have!” Ginger says. “I’m raising my son Jewish regardless of who I’m with; I participate in my spirituality whether I’m alone or dating someone. I totally expanded my horizons and dated a lot of diverse people by considering what was truly important to me – and what no longer mattered.”
Our lists can sometimes be too exclusive – put a line through whatever is “old talk” and open up to the possibilities, as long as you don’t compromise on those things that truly matter to you.
Ginger offers some final words of caution: Be careful what you wish for! “I wrote down that I wanted someone who was self-sufficient – you’d be surprised (or maybe not) by how many women date men who need “saving” – and we choose them over and over again. But when I started dating my current boyfriend, I had no idea how to love someone who was as capable as I am – and sweeter, too! I’m telling you honestly, it took a while for me to figure it out and open up my heart!”
Well said! So, I ask, what would be in YOUR man file?