Relationship musings real-life
topic: Why be in a Relationship? Why not?
I outline reasons to be in a relationship, what makes a relationship good, and relationships to avoid, including a "Deal Breaker" list.
formats: HTML (6.3kB) 2001-11-13 quality 4
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Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Why be in a relationship at all?
  3. Deal breakers

Introduction

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:

  1. have a strong sense of identity - know who he is,
  2. have strong self-esteem and self-respect,
  3. know his own values,
  4. knows his principles - what cannot be compromised,
  5. know what he wants out of life, how he is going to get it, and be acting on that plan,
  6. know what he values in a relationship and what he wants out of a relationship,
  7. understand how such a relationship will affect his life, and
  8. 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:

  1. that she satisfied the things listed above for herself,
  2. that she has basic values that are compatible with his,
  3. that she does not have any deal-breakers,
  4. 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 other person.

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.

  1. It's more fun to travel through life with another person.
  2. 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?
  3. Change in perspective when another person is significant. When so intimately involved with someone, there is often an incredible power to make them happy - 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The best way to have children and raise them properly is to have two dedicated parents.
  9. Your mother stops wondering, "Where did I go wrong?".

Deal Breakers

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:

  1. has any of those bad personality traits like being hateful, spiteful, bigoted, mean, etc.
  2. has problems with self control: rage, anger, etc
  3. irreconcilable differences on child-raising philosophy (if "we" decide to have them)
  4. mental problems that get in the way
  5. has any communicable disease that could affect me
  6. has any fatal disease that would threaten "our" future
  7. drinks to excess, does drugs, smokes
  8. generally reckless, or shows poor judgement. I am going to trust this person with my life and that of our children, right?
  9. lack of critical thinking ability
  10. lack of ambition, or no desire to succeed: "give-up" attitude
  11. entitlement mentality
  12. closed-minded or dogmatic (this is a degree thing)
  13. watches too much TV, or overly obsessed with make-believe world
  14. doesn't think for herself
  15. has low self-esteem, or low self-respect
  16. is slothful, and never gets out
  17. is a slob.
  18. doesn't take proper care of her body and mind.

[Zak Smith] [zak@computer.org] [/~zak/documents/real-life/why-relationship/html]
$Id: documents,v 1.5 2000/09/28 21:20:39 zak Exp zak $
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