Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Relationships, what to look for?

This topic gets old, but it never really gets old. Let's count the number of top lists of "I wish the other gender did this, or knew this about me" and we'll have enough points, reasons to build a clearly unattainable list. I suppose if I can't articulate what I'm looking for, I'll act truly as young as I look. I had cleaners come and remark that I was doing pretty well for a kid fresh out of school. She apologized, unnecessarily of course, and I was happy that I had fooled another Cantonese person, someone who might have had the scoop on the age tricks we play. I will now stop hiding behind my usual veil of marginal humor and sarcasm.

Less of logic, and more of emotion is the tone of this posting. And perhaps a list is not the right way to discuss this. It's not an audition, nor a tryout. It's just some thoughts I feel like sharing. And so onto business, I think one of the most important things to me is that I look up to her, and that she respects what I do. She's gotta be doing something, or has done something that I admire. I have to ask myself, "Is what I'm admiring, a durable quality?" I've definitely taken a little heat on this because it seems like an unfair standard. But is it really? I have my own definition of what I admire. For example, do all her friends look up to her as someone who takes care of them? Was she involved in a sport that she now teaches to others? Did she have a rough upbringing and now she works as a counselor? These are all things that get and hold my attention. I want her to look up to me as well. And this is in the interest of not assuming entitlement, which I'm sure my generation can be better about. Not so much as a criticism but more of a, "Who's going to step up, and show the other generations we're doing things better, faster, and yet are more fulfilled...and produce more than what we ask for in return?" This is not some hallucination. I know some folks I really admire that are high performance and emotionally fulfilled. What can we be doing here to enjoy more of that? Because the relationship is now a team of two not some solo act, I have to ask myself, am I asking for any qualities that I can not bring, or are unwilling to develop? If so, I've got to take it off the table. I'm not entitled to anything. I need to earn what I ask for.

Another sticking point for me is a passion to learn new things. And this is an authentic desire to learn. Come on, you know it when you see it. My brother once asked me, how do you go all out and learn something the way you do? And I said, I don't need to know jack about what you're actually doing, but once I roll into your place I should be able to tell how into it you are. For him, it was salsa. I said that I should see your dancing shoes on the floor, dance magazines all over the place, you watching salsa videos on youtube, and hearing about private lessons. A year later, I watched him dance on his birthday for the first time. I was blown away. All those private lessons, hard practice really paid off. And so the point of that story is less about how good someone actually gets, but how into something, someone can be. And it's for no reason other than that it satisfies you. If you fulfill yourself, it communicates itself. And so as it relates to the person on the other side of the dinner table, it's incredibly fulfilling going out with someone who is incredibly passionate about what they do, and is willing to share. And, wants to make you good. I have to say you learn the funniest stuff sometimes. I dated someone once who taught me all about women's shoes. Before her, I could care less. She didn't say "he wouldn't care about that, so I'm not going to bother teaching him." I forgot what skill I traded her, but ever since then, I can't help but pay attention to how shoes really put together an outfit. On a related note, it is nice to see that flats are being worn more often at work. They look good and I'm glad girls are able to feel more comfortable. I know I am sometimes critical of guys not paying attention to things, but I have to be fair. Guys love it when girls are interested in the things they do. Have you seen how excited some dude got when he found out a girl he liked was really into cars? I don't know if it's always the same in reverse though. An example, "A guy can dress well, but not better than me?" Give us a break sometimes. I am not at all saying I dress well either with my collection of silly t-shirts with slogans such as "Massive, Area Man, To The Pub." But, it's equally as ridiculous as the collection of stuffed animals in the back of some Asian girl's Civic. Don't forget to buckle up Hello Kitty.

Since we're on growth, the relationship ought to be a learning experience. Does she genuinely want to make you better? It goes back to my experience with teaching/coaching. Do you teach people things with the intention of them becoming better than you? Think back to some of the best teachers you had. Were they the best at what they did? We need to justify that question. Are we asking if "what they did" means, play that instrument, or rather make the student better than themselves? I'd say the latter. Why is teaching and learning so important to me? Because it also covers all the other attributes that I find important. Rather than just say I like people who are patient, why not just discuss it in context. Thinking a few more steps down the line. Will she be able to raise a kid well? Will she be able to help our child differentiate between right and wrong, and allow him or her to make good calls when us the parents aren't around? Will our kid end up learning lessons parents typically don't want to expose their kids to by going for overprotection at the expense of a rich childhood experience? With our support and nurturing, I want our kids to not be afraid to come to us for help or protection for them or one of their friends even when they've totally deuced themselves. In the end, our kid will do whatever the hell he or she wants. But along the way, can we convince them that they're not the only ones that matter and if they take care of themselves well, they're in a better position to watch out for their friends too?

Another point I often ponder, is "will she play nice with my friends?" Will she take a genuine interest in them? Does she feel comfortable enough to reach out to them to include them in dinner parties or whatever? I don't really believe in all the imaginary barriers between her friends and my friends. When I'm not around, I want her to feel free to grab dinner with any one of my friends, especially the guys. This is really important to me because I know that I can have an intense personality, and a major goal of mine is to keep up the pace of activity, but come off as more casual about things. That being said, I know my limitations and if she feels like she doesn't want to talk to me, she will then have another set of friends to talk to about me. I love my friends and I trust their opinions of me. Especially when I act like a jackass and need to be straightened out. Another aspect of all this is how nurturing she is. Does she take care of her friends? As in really take care. Not just "partied" when they came in from out of town. Does she have the understanding of how to take someone who isn't doing well, and get them back to where they were. This implies that she's detailed, knows how to reach out to someone emotionally, and also recruit help where necessary, while being gentle and supportive. But also knows when enough is enough.

Obviously no one has a perfect track record with all this, if this is what you value too. But the best part about all this that your past does not dictate how passionate you can be about something, how into learning or sharing you can be, or how well one will accommodates others. It's not like an endurance sport where you need a solid cardio base to be able to compete well. When can you start or improve on these things? Right the F now. In fact I don't think much of this is gender specific, as one friend of mine pointed out. She says, "You know, girls are into those things too." So turning it back to our generation rather than gender, can we take more ownership of how we're perceived, set some solid examples, and build that in culturally as part of who we look for in a long term relationship? We usually perform according to how we're measured. If you dating someone you like is a measurement, and they look for these things, I've gotta imagine you're going to be more like that, even if you're very physically driven. You're probably wondering where I am in all this? I am very happy about my situation. I feel quite fulfilled, yet never completely satisfied. I'm surrounded by people better than me in many ways but don't also wear it on their sleeves. We have access to more usable information than ever before. I feel confident that at some point I will meet someone that I click with really well. In the meantime, it's fun to talk about this stuff.

As a final note, I'd have to say that cooking without incineration, unpredictable, likes 80's music sans big hair, is mildly attractive, and tolerates stupid t-shirts are things I personally won't complain about.