Monday, 22 June 2009

Mr Right: Have you got the Top Ten?

Women are often accused of having checklists when it comes to dating, well apparently this guy has made a checklist for us. In his book "How to Love", Gordon Livingston lists a top ten attributes a perfect partner must have most of in order for the relationship to succeed. They are kindness, optimism, courage, loyalty, tolerance, flexibility, beauty, humour, honesty and intelligence.

Well I fail the test and Mr Coffee has me so I guess that's Doom City for us.

According to the article, Livingston makes several key points:

a) He doesn't believe in love at first sight, in fact he believes that leads to bad relationships as we're automatically drawn to beautiful people but we need to get to know them better
b) He doesn't believe in traditional marriage therapy e.g. negotiating differences or working out what's wrong, he believes in choosing the right person in the first place rather than dealing with differences.
c) He pinpoints those ten "essential virtues" which I listed above as what your perfect partner will have most of

I don't have a whole lot of experience in relationships but from my very limited experience, here's a few thoughts ...

Basically I won't argue with a) too much. I have never felt love at first sight for a person. I do think gettign to know people is how I work; although attraction at first sight is often used as a filter to decide whether or not you're going to bother to get to know someone else better. It can also adjust your prejudices and make you feel good about yourself. Looks aren't everything, but I think they do count for something. This doesn't mean looking gorgeous, it can just mean looking approachable or friendly or fun or non-threatening or whatever suits at the time.

As for b), well I don't have too much experience as I said, but I would say ... let's not throw working on your relationship out the window. Every relationship needs work, as anyone whose been in a relationship knows. If you just float around trying to find someone who fits a checklist and when you hit a bump, think "instead of trying to negotiate this one, move on to the next person" you probably won't stay with anyone forever.

The trick is mainly to be able to recognise whether your differences are ones that are fundamental or superficial, whether they are worth the marriage or not, and not to have the stubbornness of saying "must stay together whether I die in the attempt" nor "one cross word and I'm outta here" attitude, but somewhere in between.

At any rate, when I saw Mr Livingston's checklist, I thought to myself, this guy would not be one to consult for marriage therapy. His 10 essential virtues may work for some people, heck, they may work for many people.

The thing is, he's narrowed down the list to 10 and disregarded the fact that there are some things that certain people just don't care about, in fact some people mightn't care about quite a few of those things. The phrasing is quite cague in the article - probably to cover his butt "a partner who possesses most of these" and then the virtues could be reinterpreted by someone to fit into a hypothetical situation, so that in any situation, an ideal partner might be desired to hold at least 7 of these virtues.

But that's more a sleight of hand than anything else.

In actual fact, if done like that it's not pinpointing a damn thing.

What really matters, as most people would say is either or both:

a) the person is someone who has qualities/traits that you value/admire/desire in another
b) the person has qualities you generally admire/value/desire and are compatible with your own values and traits

I don't know how many people actually believe all these so-called new theories for love; how many new ones can they come up with? I guess even if they don't believe them they have to come up with something new.

Really, I would prefer it if they stuck to the old ideas but had a neat story around it; instead they seem to forego the stories and try to rehash an advice book format under the guise that they have something new to say about love. It's shameful.

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