Mental Exercise: the “Ideal Lover/Partner/Friend”

I’m in a mood.

(I wonder how many of my journal entries start off with that sentence so far this year?)

I remember a project in my Sociology class back in my sophomore year of high school. We were told to make a list of at least five attributes we required of a potential mate/partner/lover. Snickering and blushing aside, everyone did the assignment and had the pleasure of reading their list out loud to the rest of the class. We discussed the whys and wherefores of each person’s list as we went.

My list had about thirty items on it. I had the longest one in my class, but I also had a boyfriend (contrary to claims that I was too picky and would be forever alone). The thing is, I’d focused on non-physical things. Someone who had a good sense of humor. Someone who was around my level of intelligence. Someone who enjoyed the rain. Someone who liked animals.

It was cute.

Now, though, I’m thinking that the list needs to be resurrected. If you created a list of thirty or so criteria, and then you only required a potential partner to meet about ten of them… that’s reasonable, right?

Let me approach that from a different direction.

I’ve never been in a relationship with someone who’s owned enough books to fill a bookcase. Why not? I’m an avid reader, from news articles to fanfiction to novels to blogs. I probably spend a third of my awake time reading in some way or another. And I’ve owned at least enough books to fill a large bookcase to the brim since I hit high school. Yet I’ve managed to ignore the fact that everyone that I’ve started a relationship with has been a non-reader. Some of them just didn’t enjoy reading outside of school assignments or a signal series (like *only* Harry Potter or *only* the Wheel of Time). One read comics with some regularity, but even that’s a limited form of reading. I’ve never been with someone who could recommend a good book they’d just finished (or actually listen when I recommend one based on their likes).

It makes no sense!

My approach to relationships has always been very… loosey goosey. If someone likes me, why should I judge them? If they’re willing to bother showing me attention, who am I to not accept it graciously? I’ll willfully overlook the lack of commonality between myself and a new partner, if it means I can avoid rocking the (new, unfamiliar) boat. I bend so we don’t break.

Bugger that!

I’m in a unique situation now. I’m a polyamorous demisexual married to an asexual in a partly open relationship. That means I’m allowed to date and get to know people, to eventually find someone I connect with emotionally to become my lover (that’s the demi part, FYI). Put simpler, I’ll be dating from my friendzone. So… why not alter my “ideal mate” list to that of an ideal friend?

Playing with this idea has entertained me all day. While a bit silly, the exercise itself has allowed me to recognize how many ways I’ve failed myself in expecting almost nothing from those I allow closest to me. I deserve better, from myself and from others. That said, here’s a peek at the things I came up with. Keep in mind, a person would only need to meet about ten of the points to be “up to par”. Hell, even five solid matches would make them more compatible than any of my serious relationships; believe me, I’ve checked. (And that was depressing, to realize how little my partners matched the attributes of my close friends… no wonder we failed so spectacularly!)

– They own an impressive library, at least a bookcase worth. And they actually read the books, rather than keeping them for show. A mix of fiction and nonfiction is a bonus. I need someone who’ll enjoy a trip to a bargain bookstore for a couple of hours, walking out with an armful of purchases with me.

– They write. It can be poetry or blogging, fiction or nonfiction. Perfect grammar and spelling aren’t necessary, but a command of the English language beyond that of a middle schooler is a must. Really, writing well enough to avoid making me cringe would be impressive.

– They are at least partly college educated. I’ve settled for less before, and I shouldn’t. While I’m not particularly pro-college, I do believe that having knowledge beyond a GED is important. If they can explain the intricacies of Japanese culture thanks to personal interest after a semester of the language in college, I’ll be impressed by their personal studies and depth of knowledge. Feeling like I’m walking on eggshells to avoid talking down to people is *not* fun.

– They’re pagan. Not a generic, hippy-is-cool pagan. I mean someone who’s studied various paths and knows where they’re currently walking. If we can debate the merits and downfalls of hard polytheism, they’re my kind of person.

– They’re LGBTQIA+ savvy and an ally at minimum. This one is actually non-negotiable. They don’t have to know all the buzzwords or be a perfect ally, but homophobia is distinctly *not* sexy.

– They enjoy trying out new foods, without whining and being bullied into it. I’m decidedly not a steak-and-potatoes girl, so I need someone adventurous in the kitchen.

– Speaking of the kitchen, they should know their way around it by now. If I ask for them to dice an onion or start some water for spaghetti, I shouldn’t have to explain exactly what that means. We’re too old for ramen-and-eggs cooking skills to be acceptable anymore!

– They’re a geek. Pick a fandom and run with it (the more, the merrier). Bonus points for Harry Potter, Marvel, Doctor Who, Sherlock, or Supernatural. Extra bonus points if they get my references outside of their personal fandoms.

– They need to be financially sound on their own. This is another almost non-negotiable point. I’m tired of being an accountant in my relationships, fixing poor life decisions and bad credit. They don’t have to be rich or an investment genius; I just want someone who manages their own money with half a brain.

– They like animals, especially dogs. Animals tend to be a good judge of character, and I intend to always have dogs in my life. If they can’t stand animals or barely tolerate them, it’d get old pretty fast.

– Hygiene. I’m shocked by the amount of bad hygiene I’ve ignored in favor of not rocking the boat. That needs to stop!

– They could be really into anime. My wife is anime fanatic, so she’d be the best judge of their seriousness. I enjoy a bit of anime now and again, and it’s a type of geekery that meshes well with me and mine.

– They’re creative, for real. I’d like to not have to smile and lie when shown their art, be it painting or drawing or writing or singing. Let them have a talent of their own, one I can truly enjoy. Let them embrace and practice their art as often as I practice my own.

– They play an instrument. Guitars and drums are my favorites, but people who can sincerely play any instrument impress me. Having learned basics on the clarinet and guitar, I recognize the passion and drive it takes to practice enough to gain those talents.

– They like to stay in rather than go out. I like to get out and about sometimes, but I’m more of a cafe-date-for-coffee girl than a drink-and-party girl. I’m too old to enjoy that crap anymore, and I find those who still enjoy getting blitzed are generally too immature for me.

– They should be a civilian. I grew up around the military, married and divorced it, and work with it daily. I’d like to get away from all of that, because I want stability. It’s nothing against those who serve; I just don’t want to start something to a person who will move in 3-5 years for their next assignment.

– They should enjoy a good snog without sex. Look, TMI. I get it. But even if I’m a full blown adult, I happen to enjoy the process of kissing someone senseless (and visa versa). I don’t always want sex, and I’d like to find someone who’s similarly minded. Sometimes getting wound up is the fun part!

– They need to have experience or knowledge of polyamory and/or open relationship dynamics. If they don’t know something, they need to be willing to ask. I’m not looking to replace my wife. I’m also not looking for a quick shag. Communication is key, and understanding its importance goes a long way in showing serious interest in being in my life.

– They’ve traveled. I’ve lived in three different parts of Germany, visited the Czech Republic and Canada along with half of the States. Staying in the same town your entire life leads to a different mindset, one I don’t relate to well. I don’t need someone super well-traveled, but it’d help if they’ve been around their state at least a bit.

– They don’t live with their parents. I get that it happens, especially with today’s economy. But around 30, the excuses get weaker. Personal experience says that a person who really wants to make it on their own tends to crash with multiple roommates and pools their resources, rather than moving into mom’s house.

– They’re employed, and it’s steady. They also can’t bitch every single day about their job, because that level of hatred usually leads to layoffs, firing, or quitting (i.e. job instability). Adults recognize that we have to put up with a certain level of stuff to get/keep a good paying job. If it’s too horrible to bear without griping, an adult seeks new employment. Personal experience has demonstrated this fact over and over amongst lovers and friends.

– They have no child, nor do they want any (at least for now). I’ve moved past any desire to reproduce, and I don’t want to become a parent vicariously through a lover.

I could go on. I’m a rambler and a listmaker. These kinds of exercises can keep me going for hours, even as I get weirder and more specific with the new points I come up with. The whole point of this list, though, is to remind myself that I’m allowed to expect something more out of people I let into my life (both lovers and friends). I can expect maturity as we all approach our thirties, and I don’t have to tolerate willful ignorance or spiritually stunted individuals.

I’m allowed to say “no”. I can be picky about the types of people I allow into my life, and I can remove those who do me more harm than good. It’s all my choice.

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