There is an activity that I like to have clients do called “The Shopping Cart”. It’s especially helpful when doing some self-reflection and deciding relationship satisfaction requirements.
When people shop online, generally they know exactly what they want; they have already researched the characteristics and quality of the product; they have read the reviews; they have put effort into the choice. Once that has been done, the item/product goes into the shopping cart and is ready for purchase.
Sometimes there are more superficial characteristics or options; or there may be products that we don’t need, but it would be nice to have. Those go on the “Wish List”. These items frequently change and can be rather trendy.
The “Trash Bin” is the place where the trash goes, of course. This where things are permanently deleted.
Now, consider how we can use the Shopping Cart concept with regards to relationships. Ask yourself (without thinking about your current partner), what your ideal partner would be like? What are the primary traits/personality characteristics of the people in your inner circle? What are your values? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Ten years? What makes you happy? What are you passionate about? All of these things would be part of your Shopping Cart. These are essentials.
Here are some Shopping Cart items that people have included over the years:
● healthy/good physical shape
Next, think about more superficial things. These are not so important but would be wonderful additions. Here are some examples of Wish List items that people have included:
● physically attractive
● taller than me
● at least a 6-figure income
● likes to travel
The last list is the Trash Bin. These are things that are deal-breakers, so to speak...things that have not worked in the past, or just things that you already know are not ok with you. Some examples are:
● inability to communicate
● no pride in appearance
If you were "shopping" for a relationship, what qualities would you look for in a product?
Generally, people know what’s in their shopping carts and tend to get caught up in some of the more superficial things. We are blinded by the sparkle of beauty, or money, or other trendy concepts. When this happens, we may overlook the qualities that are in the trash bin, and we settle for partners that do not meet our expectations.
No one is perfect, but we can make better choices in relationships if we put more thought into it and believe that we deserve to be happy.