Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Deal-Breakers, Non-Negotiables, etc.

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.


Sally said...

Could you elaborate on the concept of "radical honesty"? What comes to my mind is something that sounds like a bad idea.

Sally said...

P.S. I realize this is Ed's, and not your, critical characteristic, but I figure after all that discussion, you know what he means by it.

Tam said...

I'll post about this separately.