I was talking to a friend of mine today about relationships and choices. She was telling me about a book she was reading. The basic message of the book was sometimes we have to learn to settle. They advise figuring out what it is you must have from a relationship and focusing on those things when you meet someone new. I told her I have had this same conversation with some of my other friends and have actually done this myself.
What are our nonnegotiable? What can we agree to disagree on? What are the things we just cannot tolerate in a life partner? What are things that we would be willing to accept and under what circumstances would we accept them? Would you say leaving the toilet seat down is a deal breaker? No, probably not. What about political differences? Conspiracy theorists? Right to Life advocates? Hmmm
I think the list should stay private for the most part because it is personal and changeable as we get older. Oddly, as I explained to my friend, the list of nonnegotiable and not acceptable actually has gotten longer for me as I’ve gotten older. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not difficult to get along with, quite the opposite in fact. IT’s just that I’ve been single for some years now and am quite content with my life as it stands currently so in order for me to consider changing my life I would need someone to meet certain standards. I’m not hard-core or anything of course, just older, more mature, less tolerant of nonsense and more pragmatic than I was in my twenties of thirties. I’m almost out of my forties now and my life is pretty good all things considered.
So what are my nonnegotiable? Putting aside the obvious ones of course, abusive etc. I would say that my nonnegotiable part of the list is not very long. Things I can live with, yeah that would probably be a bit longer. I want a man who appreciates and respects women. I’m pretty old-fashioned in many ways I guess. I want a man to hold my door for me and to step back and let me go in first. I want a man who places his hand on the small of my back as we move through a crowd or who tucks my hand in the crook of his arm as we walk along the sidewalk. I want someone who is kind to children and animals.
Needless to say there a lot of things I want but that’s not what the book is really talking about or what my friend and I were talking about today. What are the things you must have? So asking myself that question today I was really uncertain at first. There are the obvious. He must earn his own money, I cannot tolerate a man who takes money from a woman, it is poor form. I want him to be independent, I do not want to have to mother a grown man. I don’t want an addict, I’ve been down that road and it is not for me. He should be respectful of others, that is important to me. I’ve been with the smug assholes that are clever and witty and they don’t like my friends and life is too short for that nonsense. Someone who loves to try new things and check out new places together. Those are the things that immediately come to mind but not necessarily everything. As I said, this list should be private.
What things do I like? Now that is an altogether different conversation now isn’t it? Do we EVER like the things that are good or right for us? I love the bad boys, the ones who can make electricity run up your spine and into your frontal lobe. The eyes … oh the eyes. The James Dean good looks and the smoldering sensuality. The indifference and brazen sexuality that exudes from the “Don Juan” types, the boys your mother should have warned you about. We, most of us, are inexplicably drawn to them and have very little control over our reaction. I’m not immune to this but I choose to enjoy the jolt of hormonal fluctuations and then quickly and quietly move on, with maybe a backward glance for good measure. Bad boys are bad for me!
Cheaters. I used to say that this was a non-negotiable. I’m not sure that it is always that cut and dried though. Cheating happens for many reasons. What were the circumstances? What caused this to occur? What was the intent of the cheater? Was it a “one time thing” or a long-term affair?
Relationships are hard. They are fraught with tension and sarcasm and sleepless nights and fights over money and who left the cap off the toothpaste and “where the hell did you put my keys” interspersed with real love and respect and affection. Anyone who thinks that relationships are all sweetness and light and cotton candy need to have a reality check. Relationships are constant work. When do you stop working at it and just throw in the towel? I think it’s different for everyone.
Being in the throes of a new relationship, in the discovery phase, is fun and exciting and titillating and everyone should have that experience. The “getting to know you” phase. In my old-fashioned opinion people just are too quick to leave this phase and jump ahead five spaces to the “Let’s sleep together” phase! How on earth can you consider having sex with someone you know so very little about? Sure it might be physically exhilarating but how are you going to feel when you’re doing the walk of shame through his living room and you run into his mom in the front hallway? Take your time people! Sex is only part of it and frankly the majority of your day is not going to be spent in bed. It’s going to be spent sitting at the dining room table trying to figure out how to pay for the new hot water heater and Saturday afternoons scrubbing the oil stained driveway. It’s going to be about how your partner handles the stressful situations. When you have dinner plans and they have to be cancelled because of a work deadline does he throw a temper tantrum or does he adapt? Does she put the onions in the chili and then pick them out because she knows you love onions? Does your partner do laundry? Darn socks? Clean the cat litter? Can you stand taking your partner to a dinner party? These are the things that matter in the bigger scheme of things. Not how hot they are in bed. Statistically speaking the average couple in a long-term relationship has sex 127 times a year. Break that down. That is once every three days or so right? Okay so let’s extrapolate that a little. Vacation sex? That’s every night so if you take one vacation a year and it last six days that is two weeks worth of sex. Focus on the day-to-day mundane things when picking your life partner. Taking it one step at a time and getting to know the person before clouding your brain with pheromones.
My daughter would be mortified to see me blogging about sex etc so it’s a good thing she doesn’t read my blog! Honestly, the girl is almost twenty-seven and she thinks I know nothing about relationships and sex. I guess that is the way of things for all young people right?
So in conclusion … no I’m kidding I hope to never end a blog like that and if I do you have my permission to smack me. We choose our mates and our reactions, our behavior and our choices dictate how we are treated and what we will accept. Now that is not to say that we are in control of everything because we aren’t. There are bad people in this world who will take advantage of good people. They know how to play the game and make you think that things are exactly how you want them to be … until they’re not. You’re going to run across some bad people in your pursuit of happiness. It is a fact of life. Those people who fall in love at fourteen and spend the rest of their lives with that person are few and far between. Just get through them and get past them and, if you’re patient, someone good will come into your life and make all of the other ones fade away. It will happen if you keep your mind and your heart and your eyes open.