What makes the ideal romantic partner? This question can range from a giggly girls’ night / guys’ night question, to a not-quite-dating curveball, to a serious pondering that can haunt people for the rest of their lives. Okay, maybe I just made up all three of those, but most people have probably thought about this at one point or another.
It seems, though, like actually finding the “right” person should be impossible. For me, there seem to be four parts to a partner.
Friend, meaning “someone you want to hang out with”. This seems both obvious and strangely out-of-place for a Western-style relationship: model (read “TV”) relationships often show the husband going “out with the guys” and the wife having a “girls’ night”. When they do go to social events, it’s as a couple…they’re often not friends with everyone there as individuals. But they do enjoy spending time together, and that’s basically what this part is. You should enjoy spending time together, and ideally your partner is part of your group of friends, so you don’t have to make those separate activities all the time.
Uh, “sexy”, meaning “a good sex partner”. This is part of romance, right? If you’re not attracted to each other, are you a couple, or just very close friends? Most people wouldn’t marry their best friend; this can’t be discounted no matter how much you might say looks aren’t important. And I say that, so the point is not that “looks are important” but that “you should be attracted to each other”, and also “you should be enjoying teh sex [sic]”. If you don’t believe in pre-marital sex, then presumably you’re at least still mutually attracted, but you don’t get to test this one fully ahead of time.
Roommate, as in “someone you can live with”. A lot of my friends found out quickly that just because you’re friends with someone doesn’t mean you’ll make good roommates, or flatmates, or whatever. Conversely, some of the best roommates are people you don’t really hang out with, or talk to, or whatever. Your partner had better be someone you can live with.
Family, meaning “someone you can Trust”. Some people may not have this with their biological families, and that’s too bad, but it’s usually what people mean when they say their group has really become a family: that they can rely on each other, confide in each other, and ask each other for advice.
Maybe I’m just picky. Maybe I’m just overanalytical. But I can’t shake the thought that if I had a relationship without all four of these, I’d feel like something was missing. That in theory there could be someone better.
These are big evaluative categories, not checklist traits that only a few people fit. But think about it: it’s uncommon to find someone who fits even two of these, and pretty difficult to find someone who fits three. Four? It’s a little ridiculous that we expect that to happen.
Maybe most people don’t. I don’t know. But again, TV marriages seem to often be missing one of these. Other ideas of marriage (arranged marriages, polygamy, whatever) often discard one or more, which makes relationships a lot more possible. (Remember, it’s hard to find someone who fits all of these now. Can you be sure you’ll still feel the same way about your partner for the rest of your life? Cause that’s the traditional marriage vow…even with the current divorce rate.)
On the plus side, people are willing to change when they find someone they care about, and people do get together, do get married, all the time. As long as both partners agree about what the relationship is, it can be successful and happy. It is possible.
Anyway, relationships? Hard stuff. Unlikely to be perfect. But that’s okay—you don’t need perfect to be happy. As I’ve said to people before, the person who makes me throw out all this analysis out the window has a good chance of being the one for me. How’s that for probability.