Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
livredor

Interesting questions

I decided I wasn't going to be naughty and work after it got dark today, so I've come home from work for a couple of hours before going out again to the Prog Friday night meal. So I'm sitting curled up with a cup of tea and some toasted "Christmas bread", which is essentially teacake in loaf form. And I thought I might answer a couple of interesting questions that have showed up on my flist recently.

Someone asked in a locked post: what makes you dislike the people you dislike. So I'm going to bring over my comment from there, because I think it's a really interesting question. The thing is, I don't really dislike people. There are a really tiny number who are actually morally bad and I despise or even hate them, and a few that I don't have anything against but just don't enjoy spending time with. But dislike isn't something I go in for much.

I think for me the worst trait is wildly inconsistent behaviour towards me. That is to say, people who make a big fuss over me and tell me I'm so wonderful and great one day, and then the next act like I'm not worth knowing and they're barely forcing themselves to be minimally polite to me. I know intellectually there could be reasons for this (maybe they're in pain or just not feeling social), but it really bugs me. Obviously if someone is cold to me all the time, I'm not going to feel intensely affectionate towards them in return, but it upsets me a lot less.

Also people who in my presence are perfectly lovely to me but horrible to others. They often turn out to only "like" me for superficial reasons anyway, like a certain Cambridge professor who suddenly started being polite to me when I got my PhD and will completely blank my parents even when we're in the same conversation. Or the stereotypical person who is rude to waiters and shop assistants.

I dislike spending time with people who are very boring, either because they keep going on about the same topic even after people have clearly indicated they don't really care about it, or because they have nothing at all to say. I don't think these things are morally bad, and I know in most cases they're explained by shyness or poor social skills, but I don't find it fun to be with people like that. People who just won't contribute to a conversation or require disproportionate effort from me. Sometimes if these people act as if they like me more than I like them, I get into a negative cycle of getting annoyed with them because they make me feel guilty for disliking them for no moral reason.

blue_mai asked: what do you want in a relationship? In some ways this is tough question to answer, because my default is not to want relationships at all; if anything, I have a list of minimum criteria that someone has to meet before I'm willing to give up my precious singlehood, rather than a list of goals that I'm looking for in a partner. Also because I've ended up with someone who isn't quite what I thought I was looking for; for a start, he's not Jewish and he's not in the same country as me, but I think I'm happier than I have ever been in past relationships. That includes relationships where I was more passionately in love, or with people who objectively seemed to be better suited to me. Besides, relationship with cartesiandaemon is bringing me a bunch of things that I didn't even know I wanted until we started going out, some of which are probably too personal to go into in detail. So I'm rather reluctant to make lists of what I want, because I am in the process of being shown to be quite wrong. But I'll give it a go anyway.

I think the absolute must is communication. I need to be able to talk about feelings (yes, it's a stereotypical lesbian thing, but I've actually experienced better communication on this level with male partners than female), and deal with emotionally difficult stuff by talking it over. I can't cope with someone who sugars things to spare my feelings or to manipulate me, or who reacts to being upset by withdrawing or sulking. I'll take that rare magic of a partner who instantly understands me, but actually I prefer someone who's willing to make the effort to keep discussing and clarifying until they do, because I trust that better than romantic instincts. I'm rather drawn to having meta discussions about the state of the relationship and the theory of relationships. But for me the defining thing about being a couple, more even than the sexual element (I've had relatively non-sexual relationships, actually), is being not just able, but happy, to discuss anything and everything. Trivial everyday things, books read, a little bit of preferably non-malicious gossip, and also deep emotional things that reveal that closely guarded unmasked core self.

I want to be friends, but not only friends. Friendship is unlimitedly precious to me, I don't think romantic love is more important than friendship love, but I've tried to have relationships based on being friends who happened to be mutually attracted, and it really didn't work. It's really hard to define the difference, too, a sense of emotional interconnection, maybe? I don't mean soppy stuff;
But flowers and stars and songs just begun,
And moonbeams and eyes and the light of the sun,
No matter how much such stuff may please,
One can't keep living on things like these
but I can't really describe what I do mean.

At the same time, I can't cope with relationships that are stifling or obsessive. Definitely no merging of personalities or spending every minute of the day together. I want a partner who has their own life and doesn't rely on me for social contact or for their only emotional connection. I'm not willing to the be the only guardian of someone's self-esteem, nor indeed take charge of keeping their life together practically. I'm increasingly finding that long distance is a positive thing, actually; I honestly don't know if I'm capable of sharing living space at this point in my life, and while there are downsides, I enjoy the situation where every time we meet, it's a special occasion and we can focus on eachother, and conversely we never have to deal with fitting a relationship round boring domestic stuff, or take it out on eachother when we're tired and irritable.

On a practical level, I kind of need a partner who doesn't have a burning desire to procreate; I don't regret the relationships I've had with people like that, but they were doomed from the start, and I'm not sure I want to do that any more. I want someone who takes a relationship seriously, who may even be willing to make a long-term commitment ultimately, without treating it as a "trial marriage" with the ultimate aim being buying a nice little house together in the suburbs.

As for the type of person, on the theory that geek is a gender, I'm almost exclusively "geeksexual". By which I mean, people who are full of curiosity about as many topics as possible, who aren't afraid of being slightly obsessive in pursuit of information. I would rather have someone who errs on the side of tactlessness than on the side of being suave but impossible to get to know. I think being willing to question mainstream values and assumptions helps, too. It's not essential, but comfortable with internet culture at least enough to understand the importance of LJ, and know how to use email and messenger and Skype, also help. (Actually, although I define myself as bisexual, I'm generally not attracted to people who are very intensely masculine or feminine, but greatly prefer people who are either androgynous or like me not very strongly gendered.)

I know in theory that moral qualities are more important than intelligence, but I have to admit I'm unlikely to be able to sustain interest in someone who isn't pretty spectacularly bright. That's largely true of close friends as well; I'm not particularly proud of it, but I get way too impatient with people who don't grasp complex ideas quickly and put information together effectively. To be fair, I do rather want a partner who is kind and unselfish and has high moral standards, at the very least someone who is never going to be deliberately nasty to me. Trust kind of goes along with communication, but extends beyond that too.

Oh, and if we're talking about what I want right now, someone who is not going to come between me and cartesiandaemon. I don't even know if any such person exists, and I'm most definitely not looking for them because I am very happy in my current situation. So yes, talking about what I want in a relationship is pretty abstract right now, as I already have an amazingly good relationship, which I don't think I could have predicted would happen before it did.

To reply to further discussion of this topic of blue_mai's, I generally lean towards staying in a relationship only as long as it makes everybody involved happier than they would be apart. I have never been in a situation of trying to "fix" a relationship that's in difficulties, or of making a commitment to stay together "for better or worse". Perhaps it's middle age creeping up on me, but I'm starting to think that maybe I should try for the kind of relationship where you work at things. I don't know if or when I'll be in a position to make that kind of seriously long term commitment, though. Goodness knows I'm picky enough, and have enough definite ideas about what a partner can expect from me, that I don't rate my chances all that highly!

Anyway, I'm going out fairly shortly and will spend most of the weekend playing host to a cantor from the German bit of the Jewish Renewal movement. But I hope I'll get some discussion going for me to come back to in between.
Tags: relationships
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  • Bar mitzvah

    Soon after I came to Stoke, there was a boy of 8 or 9 who got really really enthusiastic about Judaism. He dragged his not terribly religious father…

  • Coincide

    So this year chanukah started on Christmas Eve. It's quite common for chanukah to overlap with Christmas, given that they are 8 days and 12 days long…

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