Sometimes you make lists of things you want in a partner. Sometimes you do this when you’re sad. Someday you do this when you’re angry. Sometimes it seems like a good idea, helpful even.
These lists range from, say, baseline things like, “Must not be abusive,” and “Must love dogs,” to very, very specific things, to the point where you’re about forty-two items into the list and they just keep getting more specific, like, “Must not be a Brony,” and, “Must take me horseback riding on the beach annually.”
Now, I’m not saying that it’s not okay to want your potential future partner to share some common interests with you, or to want them to take you out on dates or have a nice smile, but oftentimes these lists get far to specific far too quickly. For the purpose of comparison, let me show you my list of things I look for in a partner.
- They must value me as a friend and lover.
- They must respect me.
- They must be able to hold decent conversations with me.
- They must want to do enjoyable activities with me.
- They must share a similar worldview to mine.
Yeah, that’s it. Also, all of these hopefully go both ways. But see how simple that is? None of this, “They must be at least five inches taller than me,” or, “They must love John Green books and want to talk about them with me.” I don’t go in for that shit, and let me tell you why. When I first met the man, who was then a boy, who is now my long-term partner, I never thought we would end up dating. I had standards. (Yeah, freshman year me, ‘cause you were such a catch yourself.) I wanted somebody who was as “smart” as me. I wanted someone who loved Harry Potter as much as I did. And he was just a regular non-Harry Potter-reading plebian who was taking all regular non-honors classes.
And here we are four years later. And you wanna know what I’ve learned?
A fucking lot.
So, going back to my list, let’s justify them. The first two are very baseline. If you think those two are too much to ask for, we have a problem. These two do, however, encompass a lot. In terms of “communication”, which I hear is necessary for maintaining successful relationships, as far as I’m concerned as long as you value me and I know that, whether I know that through little acts of love or you straight up telling me, we have zero problems. And if you respect me then you will, as a logical next step, be honest with me even when it’s hard or awkward or you think I don’t want to hear it, which is really all communication is about anyway.
As for the third one, I really don’t care if we’re both passionate about the same things or not. I don’t care if we agree on things, either. I don’t care that you love the tenth doctor and I love the eleventh, or that you don’t like Doctor Who at all, or that you’ve never even watched a show on the BBC. I care that we’re able to talk to each other about things. (Side note: This is not in fact communication. As I learned from a vlog retelling of Jane Eyre, “You think being able to talk to someone, really talk to someone, all night, talking about anything, would mean that you can communicate. But it’s not the same thing.”) For instance, I really had no interest whatsoever in astronomy in my first year of high school, but Pudge loves space. Back in the day he could literally talk to me about space for hours. It was during one of these astronomy rants that I realized I was completely infatuated with him, and the best part was that he’d get mad at me if I wasn’t paying attention. He was so intent on sharing his passion with me, and how could I not get excited about it too when he loved it that much? Having decent conversations also ultimately hinges on me and you being passionate about something, or somethings, whether those things are the same or different. Eventually, our conversations are going to get really boring if neither of us have any interests.
The fourth encompasses a lot of things. It encompasses sex, and baking together, and going out to movies, and sitting on the couch watching Game of Thrones, and everything else we might enjoy doing together. This also encompasses compromise, because if I think skydiving sounds like a terrible idea, and you loathe watching Sherlock, then we probably shouldn’t do those activities together, because we don’t both find them enjoyable. We need to find enough common ground to be able to have multiple activities that we like to do together. This also plays into sex. If I find doggy style enjoyable, but you vastly prefer cowgirl, then we need to take our differences into account and find a position that’s enjoyable for both of us, like maybe reverse cowgirl.
As for the last one, I know many people are going to disagree with me. Maybe your husband is a Republican and you’re a Democrat. Maybe your girlfriend is Jewish but you’re Christian. But neither of these examples really gets at what this one means, because you and your partner can be of different religions or political parties and still share a ton of common ground in terms of your worldview. That said, these two categories are often excellent litmus tests. For example, if you’re a libertarian and I’m a straight up communist, but what we both want is for everyone to have enough to eat, then we don’t really have a problem, we’re just ultimately on different paths that hopefully head toward the same goal. However, if you think we should cut food stamps and increase our military spending, and I think we should provide a socialist floor so that people don’t die of preventable causes, then we have a big fucking problem. This is also true the other way. We might both be atheists, but if you’re completely nihilistic and I’m a closet optimist, I am not going to want to be your girlfriend.
Anyways, the takeaway here is that you don’t need to rule anybody out because maybe they didn’t score as high as you on the SATs, or they don’t know the first thing about hockey, or maybe they hate hiking. The point of having a partner is having someone who values and respects you and who you can have fun with, and if you’re making it any more complicated than that, you’re making it too complicated.