A great relationship can be one of the most rewarding parts of life,
and so I think that the topic warrants a great deal of introspection.
Before entering into any relationship, I think that a person should:
- have a strong sense of identity - know who he is,
- have strong self-esteem and self-respect,
- know his own values,
- knows his principles - what cannot be compromised,
- know what he wants out of life, how he is going to get it, and
be acting on that plan,
- know what he values in a relationship and what he wants out of
- understand how such a relationship will affect his life, and
- that he wants to be in a relationship.
When thinking about entering into a relationship with another person, I think
it is important to know the following about the other person:
- that she satisfied the things listed above for herself,
- that she has basic values that are compatible with his,
- that she does not have any deal-breakers,
- that she wants to be in the kind of relationship he wants to be in.
I think it is very important to be introspective, intentional, and to maintain
perspective when thinking about entering into a relationship. If there are doubts that
it reinforces one's values or that it will be compatible with one's goals, then it
probably should not happen. If either party is not intentional with their feelings
and actions, then it is very likely that either one or both will be hurt.
Why be in a relationship at all
But first, a digression on what "relationship" means in this context.
I think it has to mean, "most significant other" - as in romantic,
life partner. Many of these can be satisfied to some degree by other
relations, friends, etc, but to the extent that many or all of them
can be to the depth desired, it usually is only possible with one
Another thing I noticed while working on this was that many of these
aren't so much "reasons to be in a relationship" as they are "valued
positive aspects of a good relationship" - not necessarily the same.
It's more fun to travel through life with another person.
- Love is amazing. It is one of the most selfish emotions
(for healthy people), in the sense of it fulfilling the value of
the other person. Chameleon-like, it often appears to be
self-less. What a wonderful paradox.
As a side-note, being one to discount all death-centered
philosophies, I think the whole idea of "dying for someone" (as in,
"I'd die for her.") is stupid - a more meaningful question is: Who,
besides yourself, are you willing to live for?
- Change in perspective when another person is significant.
When so intimately
involved with someone, there is often an incredible power to make
- it's great to make someone you love smile. But
anyway, the point was that a relationship, in this sense, gets one
away from the myopic individualistic view, allowing a broader range
of experience, feeling, and perspective.
- It's great to share highs, lows, successes and failures with someone
who acts as a cheerleader, counselor, mentor, friend, companion, and to act in those
roles for another person.
It is satisfying to help
people you love, and to have someone support you or celebrate with
you when you need or have earned it. Some sort of
symmetry is very important here.
- It's great to be completely at ease with someone, to be close
to them emotionally, intellectually, and physically, to be able to
communicate without fearing being judged, to have your identity fully
accepted and celebrated, and to provide the same for that person.
- It's great to have another person whom you respect to give you another opinion when you need it,
to have the ability to
differ in opinion, or to even argue, yet still maintain respect for
that person, and have a desire to continue communication.
- Since attraction is an application of values (in specific,
value of another's virtues), there is an inherent pleasure
in such proper application of one's values ("Happiness is activity
in accordance with excellence." - Aristotle).
I believe a good relationship is something of a
concrete assurance that there is something right with the world.
- The best way to have children and raise them properly is to have
two dedicated parents.
- Your mother stops wondering, "Where did I go wrong?".
I was introduced to the idea of a relationship "deal breaker" by my friend Jody
back in July 2000. A "Deal Breaker" list defines all the attributes which disqualify
another person from being a partner. If one or more are present, the
partnership cannot occur. A person should define these before he or she is
in a relationship so that they can be somewhat objective.
Zak's deal-breaker list:
- has any of those bad personality traits like being hateful, spiteful,
bigoted, mean, etc.
- has problems with self control: rage, anger, etc
- irreconcilable differences on child-raising philosophy (if "we"
decide to have them)
- mental problems that get in the way
- has any communicable disease that could affect me
- has any fatal disease that would threaten "our" future
- drinks to excess, does drugs, smokes
- generally reckless, or shows poor judgement. I am going to trust
this person with my life and that of our children, right?
- lack of critical thinking ability
- lack of ambition, or no desire to succeed: "give-up" attitude
- entitlement mentality
- closed-minded or dogmatic (this is a degree thing)
- watches too much TV, or overly obsessed with make-believe world
- doesn't think for herself
- has low self-esteem, or low self-respect
- is slothful, and never gets out
- is a slob.
- doesn't take proper care of her body and mind.