The 30 Non-Negotiable Qualities People I Date Must Have Now That I'm 30

by Zara Barrie

Recently, it's come to my attention that I have actual standards when it comes to dating. (It only took me 30 years, but hey, I'm a late bloomer, baby.)

It's also come to my attention that my "standards" in my messy, boozy, druggy, eating-disordered, sexually confused, traumatic, dangerous 20s were more like red flags.

Oh, you don't have a job? You're an unemployed artist shamelessly living off your rich parents? You're addicted to cocaine, but you're really getting into snorting meth lately because it lasts sooo much longer? You're a narcissistic, unmedicated sociopath? You sound like just my type! Let's go out on a date.

Did you "forget" your wallet, you sweet thing? Oh, honey, don't worry; I'll pay. And if you say something really mean and condescending to me, I might even go home with you tonight.

I mean, I can't believe the shit I put up with back then!

Then, when I was 28, I found myself on a date that would change everything for me.

I met this girl at a chic, dimly-lit, fancy cocktail bar. She had chosen the place and had even made a ~reservation~.

We talked about writing. She asked me questions. She was complimentary. She was happy in her life. She liked her career and loved her family.

"Who are you?" I thought to myself as I watched an authentic smile sprawl across her face.

She was so normal, smart, nice, funny and just "together" — qualities so rare in the circle I ran with, I felt like I was observing an exotic, rare creature in its natural habitat.

As I sat in the backseat of the taxi (one that she hailed for me) and watched New York City fly by, a weird feeling washed over me.

The cab dramatically halted at a red light. I looked out the window, and Saks Fifth Avenue was gleaming in front of me.

It was a sign. I had been dating Nordstrom Rack, but this girl was Saks Fifth Avenue. And I'm not a Nordstrom Rack girl; I'm a Saks Fifth Avenue girl.

From that moment on, I never went back to Nordstrom Rack. I realized, if you want the designer person, you need to look for high-quality material. The cheap shit, no matter how pretty it looks, will only break.

So here are 30 qualities I need in a person, now that I'm 30:

1. You must be employed. (And being an artist living off your parent's trust fund doesn't count as a JOB.)

2. You must be hyper-passionate about your career. (I'm that way, and I'll end up resenting you if you're apathetic about your WORK.)

3. You must have a POSITIVE ATTITUDE. I have such a positive attitude, even when I'm manically depressed, but for whatever reason, I dated negative assholes for a decade. It bums me out.

4. You must want to have children.

5. You must like children.

6. You don't have to come from a perfect family, but you must be into family culture.

7. By family culture, I mean you must be invested in MY family culture because I'm completely obsessed and besotted with my family.

8. You must idolize my mother as the reigning goddess she is. Lynn knows everything and is never to be questioned.

9. You must be generous. I don't care how much money you make, but I can't deal with cheapos. Tip the waiter, dickhead.

10. You must not be afraid to spend money. I like nice things. I like luxury. If you don't like spending money, I'm not the girl for you. (And you're not the girl for me either, babes.)

11. You must be sophisticated. Meaning: You don't wear sweatpants in public, you don't chew with your mouth open, you know who Joan Didion is and your idea of a nice restaurant is, like, The Waverly Inn, not the Cheesecake Factory.

12. You must be cultured. You must enjoy plays, value the arts, love music and be curious about other cultures that aren't your own. And you must be excited about venturing into other countries because you have an unquenchable thirst to learn about the world as a whole.

13. You must have a valid passport. No exceptions.

14. You must have a Facebook account, the Lyft app downloaded on to your phone (I would say Uber, but the owner is a Trump supporter, so ew) and the Seamless app, too. I'm convinced you're not a fully realized person if you don't have those things.

15. You must be obsessed with me.

16. You must think my career is really interesting, and you must be as passionate about my career success as I am.

17. You must appreciate my personal style and dedication to looking pretty for you. 'Cause that shit doesn't happen by magic, and I wear all this mascara and sit through painfully long manicures just to turn you on, sugar.

18. FREAKING HELL, you MUST have a big, healthy sex drive. I've dated so many sexless twerps. Why? Because I used to like pain. But not anymore, baby.

19. You can't be stingy with compliments. If you think I did a good job, tell me. If you think my dress is pretty, tell me. If you think my $50 blowout from Drybar looks fresh AF, TELL ME.

20. You must have a healthy relationship with airplanes. I can't deal with people who are afraid of flying.

21. You must have a healthy relationship with alcohol. I'm done dating drunks. If you were previously a drunk, that's fine, but I can't date an active drunk. They're always too drunk to have sex.

22. You must not have a cocaine problem. Why does everyone in my generation who lives in New York City, London or Los Angeles have a cocaine problem? When did it become normal to blow rails of toxic, white powder into your nostrils on first dates?

23. You must be sexually adventurous and into sexting.

24. You must be authentically KIND (and not overly sarcastic, vindictive, mean-spirited, bullyish or grim).

25. You must have nice, not overly plucked eyebrows. Anytime I've dated someone with skinny, over-plucked eyebrows, they've been neurotic. Plus, thick brows are a sign of good breeding.

26. You must be protective — of me, my friends and my family.

27. You have to be an incredible listener who understands that conversation is a give and take.

28. You must be a social person with friends!

29. You must, must, MUST love dogs. If you "hate dogs" because they shed, or you're irritated by their wagging tails and eagerness to please, it's over. If you can't gush over an adorable, fluffy, innocent, sweet, loving, loyal, little creature, I have two words: Fuck. You.

30. You absolutely must have a past.

I can't get down with a perfect person who was born into a perfect little family and has never faced adversity. Who's never been thrown out of a bar for being too rowdy or had an epic fight with a sibling. Who's never been stranded somewhere dangerous or or never had their heartbroken. Who doesn't have at least ONE tattoo they regret. Who's never lost someone they loved.

Because baby, I've lived. I've taken risks, and I've seen the ugly side of life. And that's why I'm so fiercely dedicated to staying positive and healthy. If you haven't lived and experienced pain, you're a little too surface for me.

I need someone who has had their life smashed into a million little pieces and has picked up the broken shards of glass and rebuilt their life by hand.

Because it's the things we make by hand that we value the most.