Recently, Ed and I have been talking about things that are critical to have in a partner. (A couple of his are "radical honesty" and "sympathetic interpretation.") Neither of us keeps an explicit list, but for me, the things that come to mind are more like deal breakers - the things I can't tolerate in a partner.
Just as a mental exercise, I'll list a few of each kind. These lists are definitely not meant to be exhaustive.
- Substance abuse. I can handle moderate drinking, but nothing approaching alcoholism. I could handle occasional pot-smoking, but I'd rather not. Anything beyond that is right out.
- Possessiveness. It's hard to know what to write about this, exactly, and obviously "possessiveness" is a matter of degree. I'm not very possessive myself, and the path that leads from "Where were you? I thought you got off work at 5:30, but I called you at 6:15 and you weren't home" to cutting you off from your friends to beating you up is a scary thing, and even lesser forms of possessiveness or controllingness are not too cool with me.
- Excessive woo. By "woo" I mean new-agey or pseudoscientific things like crystals, tarot, chakras, etc. I can only handle so much of this before my head starts to want to explode. (See also "reality-based thinking" below.)
- Intentional hurtfulness. Some people, in a fight, will say the most hurtful things they can think of. I would have a conversation with someone about this before breaking up over it. But only one.
- Feminism-compatibility. He doesn't have to call himself a feminist (though it would be nice), but I need his basic ideas and attitudes to be compatible with feminism.
- Reality-based thinking. I need for most of my partner's ideas to be based on empirical attempts to understand how the world works. I don't need my partner to be as empirical as, say, Sally, but a basic respect for and practice of empiricism is something I can't live without.
- Social liberalism. On the economic front, I can handle a fairly broad range of ideas - anything from "almost libertarian" to "Swedish-style socialist." But if you've got a problem with homosexuality or the legality of abortion, it's not going to work out.
Those are the ones that come to mind right now, anyway.