One of the lists that I rarely talk about now is the Perfect Guy List or PGL. I remember talking about the PGL with my cousins and deciding on what we would include in our individual lists. And since we were in our early teens, we thought good looks meant a good person. I never even took into consideration my too wide smile, frizzy hair, blotchy face and ordinary features. I didn’t care that I was more like the ugly stepsisters than I was like Cinderella who was, after all, the one that Prince Charming chose.
Reality didn’t matter. What I saw when I looked in the mirror didn’t matter. The PGL was about what we wanted our Prince Charming to look like. And it never hit me that this perfect guy I imagined didn’t even exist.
And so the PGL included things like handsome, cooks for me, does all the housework, has money, has a big house. The perfect guy had to be cute, preferably play the guitar, and he had to be tall and thin. Thank god I never wrote this list in a notebook because I would be embarrassed to read it now. But it is the truth. And it’s something that was a result of the books I read and the films I watched. It’s always gorgeous and handsome men who play the leading male roles in films. Hell, even animated films have gorgeous men. And so I thought that my happily ever after depended on a handsome man.
When I got to my mid-teens and even late-teens, the PGL went through some changes. It wasn’t enough that a guy looked nice. He also had to be cool. And at that age, cool meant partying, drinking and being the kind of guy my mother had warned me about. Even though I spent my days reading, my perfect guy couldn't be the boring guy who spends all day with a book. No, I wanted some spice in the mix.
In films, the nerdy guy never gets the girl. And so, I didn’t want a nerdy guy. Like the female lead in films, I too wanted the popular guy.
Thankfully, the PGL went through a major change when I left school and left those shallow and immature expectations from men behind. I grew up. I started working and met people from various backgrounds, cultures and even different parts of the country. And I didn’t just read any book or watch any film. I was more careful about the content I exposed myself to.
With this came an understanding of the world. And so the PGL changed once again. Handsome, good looking and anything to do with appearance was cut off the list. My perfect guy didn’t have to drink or go to parties. He had to read books and his idea of a date had to involve a bookstore and the purchase of books. I wanted a man I could talk to for hours and hours. I looked for someone who I could have proper conversations with. Someone I loved and cared for.
And so the PGL became more realistic. And my expectations from guys also became more realistic. I wasn’t attracted to people simply because of their looks. Men who read the books I did or introduced me to books or songs or films and were content taking long walks or chatting over coffee became my type. I no longer cared if they played the guitar or drank or were tall and cute.
And now, slowly, the PGL is changing once again. Now it’s not just about finding a guy who likes the same books or films as I do. It’s not only about finding a man who loves to travel and see the world. Even though I’m 22 and still at that age when I don’t want commitment or marriage, don’t want to settle down, and want to live in the present, the PGL is more about the future.
My idea of the perfect guy is someone who wants the same things as I do from a family. He shouldn’t force me to give up my job or dreams. He should be supportive and kind. He needs to understand that I may never find a job that pays well or has regular working hours.
He has to help with the cooking and cleaning and help me build not my dream home but our dream home.
And I know that as I continue to grow up and understand more about the world, I will change. And so will the PGL. And that’s completely fine. Except that the PGL is no longer about what makes a guy perfect but what makes someone perfect for me. It’s not about finding someone who is perfect in the world’s eyes but someone that I want to share a life with.
I know that while writing about the first edition of the PGL, I said I was thankful I never wrote any of it down. But I now wish I did. Looking at the way the PGL has changed over the years would give me an idea of how I have grown as a person. And each change made to the list will remind me, at my most stubborn moments, that change is important. And that it’s okay that I am not the person I was a year, or even a month, ago.
And it’s also a reminder that we will make mistakes in life and that we will make the wrong decisions and we will choose the wrong people. But that’s okay because we learn from those mistakes and decisions. We learn about other people, we learn about the world and most importantly, we learn so much about ourselves.
And this is what life is all about. So when you turn red with embarrassment when you remember the early versions of your Perfect Guy List, give yourself a break. Laugh about how silly you used to be and be happy and even proud of how much you have changed, from being a giddy teen to a mature adult.
Also remember that no one will meet all the requirements of your PGL. And that that too is okay. It's also okay to be with someone who doesn't meet a single one of your requirements. Because people are complicated and relationships are complicated. That's just part of life.