Sometimes the best way to know what to look for in someone is to know what to avoid!
A great aunt made it a point to perch on her husband’s lap while visiting her parents’ home for a wedding or event. To a generation whose physicality was limited to under-the-sheet nocturnal activities, this was blasphemous. While her sisters giggled in nervous embarrassment, older relatives shook their heads disapprovingly. As a child, I was never sure whether the lady-on-the-lap deliberately stirred discomfort, or if she was even aware of it.
Mom, in an embarrassed attempt to explain the PDA, would say later, “Those who need to display their affection in public, are obviously trying to hide their fundamental differences.” This then, of course, ensured that none of her own children grew up comfortable with PDA! But that is not what this column is about!
I was reminded of the incident this week when a friend asked me during my evening stroll, what one should beware of while choosing a life partner.
Avoid a guy who is overly romantic and too focused on pleasing you, I said instantly. Anyone who makes all the right moves and goes by the romance rulebook can’t be real!
Also, do not go for a man too aware of his looks and full of his own importance. He will never make you feel good about yourself, and will always be susceptible to female appreciation.
Do not encourage a guy who is scared of you, or so eager to please that he never disagrees. He will never give you that precious sense of honest self-awareness that we must all accept and own. And yes, steer clear of anyone who tries to change you to his liking. Every relationship must adapt and adjust, but one that demands changes of just one of the two, is skewed.
My friend interrupted my monologue and asked me how was this different for women partners? Nothing really, I responded after a reflective pause. It is actually all the same. Man or woman. More than what to look for in a partner, it is important to understand how he/she makes you feel about yourself. Can you be yourself around each other? Do you feel happy and at home together?
People talk of compatibility vs chemistry and how a healthy balance of both is important. I agree a basic chemistry is important, and also basic compatibility, as in similar lifestyle choices and shared values. For instance, how can a person with integrity be compatible with a liar and a thief?
But it is important to understand that compatibility can and has to be built over time. You can consciously shape your relationships through good intent. If you interact well, really understand each other, and make yourself available emotionally – that is building compatibility! Shared love, emotions, memories, children, history – is that not all compatibility?
So, if you spark each other’s chemistry, share similar values and intend to stay together, you can build up a lifetime of happiness!
Incidentally, the great aunt is still happily married to her accommodating husband…. They got it right despite the PDA, Mom!
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DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.