Dear Future Life Partner

My conversation last week with my friend about choosing romantic life partners and what it feels like to find someone got me thinking further about what it is that I’m really looking for in one.

Some great starting places to think about love and life partners are here (article on How to Pick your Life Partner by Tim Urban at Wait But Why) and here (article on compatibility and chemistry by Mark Manson). (Mark Manson also has a lot of other great writing on the topic – Fuck Yes or No; his articles on why vulnerability is the most important key to relationships; toxic habits people think are healthy; healthy habits people think are toxic; etc.)

Also, two songs about love, in particular, inspire goosebumps in me. One of them is the song ‘For the Dancing and the Dreaming‘ from How to Train your Dragon 2.

The other one is not an entire song but one line from a Telugu song, that says:

Janmantha nee adugullo adugulu kalipe jatha unte, nadakallo tadabatayina natyam ayipoda

My attempt to translate it will be shoddy because it is such a beautiful sentiment and I’m convinced even before I attempt it that I will fail to capture its essence in the translation.

Anyway, here goes:

If you have someone to walk beside you and follow your steps always, even your stumbles will become a dance the two of you create.

These love songs aside, what is it that I’m looking for?

Well, I actually think I made a list once for my parents for them to help me look, back when I was a proponent of ‘arranged’ marriages. I seem to have misplaced that list now, though. In any case, that was quite a while ago, and I have changed much since then, as have the things I consider ‘important’.

I think Tim Urban’s ‘Traffic Test’ is an excellent filter to start with, along with the understanding of compatibility versus chemistry that Mark Manson talks about.

Some good guiding questions, in general, are:

  • Would I be friends with this person?
  • Would I rather spend time with my friends than with him/ her?
  • Does he/ she engage with me at an intellectual and an emotional level?

More specifically, here are some things that are must-haves:

  • Emotional maturity and a willingness to be vulnerable.
  • A willingness to see the humorous side of things: As Tim says ‘the ability to extract fun out of un-fun situations’ is a blessing, one that becomes increasingly evident as you spend more time with a person.
  • No double standards or fragile egos: Pro-feminism, pro-LGBTQ rights, pro-choice. The humility to see privilege for what it is. The ability to walk away from a rejection without taking it personally.
  • Challenges the other to grow in the best way possible, without shaming them, or pointing out that they are less than, or thinking that they are a project to fix.
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