5. Respectable Group of Friends
If Charles Manson has taught us anything it’s that friends are the most important thing in the world and that The Beatles have influenced more psychopaths than Metallica and Judas Priest combined. There are two reasons why friends are such an important factor.
First, unless you’re planning to shack up with a total pussy, expect to spend a lot of time with these folks. People that refuse to hang out with their partner’s friends are worse than a rainforest crotch-rash. If every time you invite your partner to hang with your friends, they roll their eyes and pretend to have a lupus flare-up, it’s not going to work. Think about it. They were friends before you came around. If you don’t find a way to adapt, you’re the asshole. Trust me, you don’t want it to get there.
Secondly, the old adage is fairly accurate: “You are the company you keep”. You might claim to hang out with a bunch of offensive tools because you played soccer with them in grade school or your parents are close friends. But if you don’t actually like them and you’re still hanging out with them, best case, you’re a social missionary. Worst case, you’re a spineless dork. Neither make for a great long-term partner.
At the end of the day, if I can’t connect with people and I don’t enjoy their company, I won’t spend much time with them. So if you think someone’s great but they tend to hang out with terrible, annoying people, you might need to take a closer look.
4. Composed During Confrontations
Every couple has disagreements and at some point, we are all faced with some form of confrontation. In relationships, like in pimping, it’s all about how you handle the surprises. You need to know that your partner can take a few hits to their ego without spewing venom and needing a cocktail. Small children and women on Flavor of Love are allowed to throw tantrums when they realize things don’t always go their way, and that when you have the IQ of a 5 year old, you are officially, “entertainment”. Adults should not be afforded such flexibility.
Imagine that every time they are annoyed, they insult you. Or every time you disagree about something, it feels like a fight. I promise you that your attraction to that person will shrivel like an Eskimo’s pecker if they have an emotional seizure every time you screw up or call them out on some bullshit.
Start looking for this early. How do they handle it when food takes a long time at a restaurant or when they can’t find something they’re looking for? What about if a flight gets delayed or a customer service rep is being difficult or incompetent? How do they react when someone doesn’t treat them kindly? Do they “demand respect” or do they “hope to earn it”?
It was hard not to make this number 1. Imagine how difficult things will get with more complex responsibilities and old age. It’s no fun, nor is it your responsibility to deal with unnecessary heat. If they can’t keep their cool, they need to get the fuck out of your kitchen.
3. Not Easily Offended
I’m all for having passion and supporting just causes. I’m also for a certain degree of tolerance towards the sensitivities of others. But what I’m more for is chilling the fuck out and realizing that you never need to be offended in order to effectively respond to things that bring negativity into your world. In fact, I would argue that ‘getting offended’ is one of the biggest problems we have on this planet. Seriously. When people get ‘offended’, shit gets unnecessarily heated, people get thrown off their game, they say irrational and harmful things, and then they use Twitter.
This is often the root of painful arguments (see #4) and subsequently, the “eggshells” factor in relationships. Do you want to feel like you can’t talk about certain things with your partner? Do you think it’s respectable or even acceptable for people to just pick topics or words that when surfaced, give them the right to respond like an asshole?
“Oh, I can’t talk about politics with her.” Fuck you, why not? Are you going to get Dengue fever if someone tells you they believe in capital punishment, or that they don’t think gay couples should have equal rights? Sure, get a bit irritated at things you think are stupid, but for God’s sake don’t make things offensive. Some people will dig what you dig and some people won’t. Sometimes people will fuck with you and sometimes they won’t. It’s that simple. If you want a healthy relationship, you need to find someone who understands that.
Think about how many different things you will want to experience over the course of your life. Now think about how many things you will experience against your will. You might travel to weird places. You might get verbally accosted by a janitor at Target. A baby might shit on your neck. A commonly overlooked trait that is fundamental to the ongoing enjoyment of a relationship is the ability for someone to not just “go with the flow”, but to acknowledge the flow and then use it to show off some killer dance moves.
Unless you’re forcing your boyfriend to get a cockring or coercing your girlfriend to have a threesome with your ex, everyone should be honing their talents in the art of ‘trying to make the best of things’ and working to gain experience. Of course there’s a breaking point. You don’t want a relationship where you feel like you need to be infinitely and permanently adaptable.
A relationship should more often than not keep you in a comfort zone. But often, that comfort zone is as much a result of the other person’s consideration of your preferences as it is natural compatibility. And even that concept – “consideration” – is a form of adaptability. Everyone needs different things, so in order to make a partner happy, you will need to adapt to a number of their preferences.
So whether it’s pretending to enjoy a heavy metal concert, not being flirty when you go out or changing your diet to avoid pulling a hamstring during sex, adaptability is just about the most important thing you can find in a significant other.
1. Skilled at “Learning”
Plain and simple, it’s not enough to be good at apologizing and giving head. A solid partner needs to recognize, absorb, comprehend, practice and perfect. There is a process discussed in a book called, “The Tools” (I highly recommend checking it out) labeled, “Ceaseless Immersion”. It is a principle of never-ending effort and conscious dedication to improvement and success. As far as I’m concerned, it is the number one prerequisite for a healthy, evolving relationship.
Sure, you can convince yourself that your goal is a state of perfect harmony and from that point on, it’s a matter of going through the motions. I kind of buy that. Some couples thrive on relationships that resemble a predictable circle rather than a naturally undulating line. The problem with that is that there is only so much control you have over your surroundings, and even your own internal wiring.
Chances are, you’ll need to not just recognize that you did something wrong, but you’ll need to never fucking do it again. Which means you’ll need to understand what you did and why you did it. Or you’ll need to notice something your partner has really started to like and you’ll want to do it frequently. You can think of this as being the difference between “relationship book smart” and “relationship intelligent”. It’s not an exercise in memorization. It’s one in understanding, applying and evolving.
Do they tend to brush off new information or do they seek it? Do they admit to and attack their own shortcomings or do they protect them? Do they always want to do nothing or are they always looking to grow their understanding of what goes on in the world and how it works? It’s super fucking trendy to say that you want to be with someone who is smart, but the question is, are they willing and able to get smarter? You’re going to throw a whole bunch of new problems at this person so you need to figure out if they’ve got the brains and the balls to solve them.