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Post 20

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 10:55amSanction this postReply
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I don't know if there are any fans of John Gottman's work here. However, if you want an empirical expert on the subject of what makes relationships work, you can't do better than Gottman.

Here is a recent edge.org article on him.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/gottman05/gottman05_index.html 


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Post 21

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 12:03pmSanction this postReply
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Aquinas, it's just something that happens. It's destructive to obsess over any aspect of romantic love. Either you have it or you don't. Either you're in love or you're not. You can do things to encourage it and maintain it but it can't be conjured up. Meeting lots and lots of girls is the way to encourage it. 


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Post 22

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 1:04pmSanction this postReply
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"...subtle factors that I would never have thought of, let alone thought important enough to list. And those factors eventually caused the relationships to come apart."

Robert's post makes a number of very important points. I'd like to concretize this one with an example from my own experience:

Shortly after I moved to New York, I met a young Objectivist woman who was a writer and an actress. And whose poetry, fire, and spirit I liked very much. We hit it off. We got together frequently and always had fascinating conversations. But we seem to have both realized almost immediately that there was not the slightest chance we would want to be romantically involved. As Robert says, figuring out these things is complex. We were both intense, passionate people who loved the same things. But there was a sizable gulf in how our intensity manifested itself at that point in our lives, in how our minds loved to -experience- life moment to moment. An example: When she first read "Atlas," she impatiently rushed through it, skipping all the speeches, to find out what happened. I marinated in it and my reading actually slowed down as I integrated and asked question after question. I enjoyed being slow, thoughtful, and reflective most (or many) times. When I would go to a museum, I could stand and stare at a single painting for a half hour. The museum dog thought I was a tree and came up and pissed on me. She would have been in and out of the entire gallery and on to the next activity in an hour. And this cognitive difference with Retarded Phil came up in all kinds of areas. She seemed to me to be living at 78 rpm, "disco inferno" hyperdrive speed, and I seemed to her to be living at 33 revolutions per minute. I was always thinking "slow down, let's enjoy this". And she was thinking "get a pulse" and that taking too much time on something is silly and boring. This kind of difference may or may not be romantically fatal (and it often depends on how much respect each person has for the radically different manner of the other person).

I hadn't realized till then that people can mesh on the level of conscious values -and- sense of life, but if *the way their minds work* -- something which is manifest every minute of every day -- seems alien or is not understood, then they won't feel fully visible to each other, won't be fully communicating. It's like the other person is a sightless Martian, perceiving the world through sound vibrations on the end of antenna stalks.

For me, the above is much more crucial than most of the following:

"Morning or night person? Messy or neatnik? Rigid time planner, or more spontaneous? ...Easy-going or control freak? Style of humor? ...Cook at home or eat in restaurants? How much conversation and interaction daily, and how much private time?"

The reason is that if you finally find the right person, right for you in so many ways, a lot of those daily living or existential as opposed to cognitive things just dwindle in importance. You just put up with some discomfort or grinding of gears and learn to laugh about it. Or roll your eyes with good humor.

Besides, often the more grating of them can be adjusted or compromised about. (For Him: I'll go to crowded noisy discos a couple times a month even though they give me a headache and I'll finally learn to dance and get out on the floor with you, because you love it so much. For Her: Dress in what he finds sexy, not always what you find comfortable or fashionable even if you think you look freakish. For Him: Put down the newspaper and talk to me at breakfast every day; you can read the damn thing on your lunch break. For Her: Be patient with his slob habits and occasionally pick up stuff on the floor since he's being nice enough to put the toilet seat down.)

And you are NEVER going to find someone who meshes on all the things on Robert's list, who comes at the world, experiences the world, interacts with it in exactly the manner and style you do. So beware of Platonic perfectionism (I don't think that was the thrust of Robert's post, but I think some may take that implication away: to make an impossible list even longer.)

My longest relationship was with a woman who came at the world differently than I in many of the daily living ways Robert lists. And they were overall happy, loving, growing years I wouldn't have missed for the world.

Phil
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 5/23, 1:08pm)


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Post 23

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 1:12pmSanction this postReply
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Robert Bidinotto:
"The older I get, the more wary I become of aprioristic approaches to things -- and romantic checklists are one. People prove to be much more complex than can be reduced to any list of qualities. Sometimes (not always) this is symptomatic of a more general platonic approach to relationships: to looking for some "dream" mate who embodies some abstract, idealized image, such as a fictional character in a novel or film -- or looking at romantic prospects symbolically, rather than for who they really are. I confess that I wince every time somebody tells me that he or she is looking for a Galt or Rearden or Francisco or Dagny -- or who claims to have found one. There's an unreality to perceiving real people through the filter of fantasy, as if romance were role-playing."

Excellent, excellent post, and true, per my experiences. Nothing wrong with focusing yourself on what you think you want. But the funny thing is, a new romance can uncover something that you never needed before, but now is a necessity. Or, your passionate love affair can be quenched by a slob, or a bi-polar person, once you move in with them, or get closer.

Post 24

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 1:15pmSanction this postReply
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Phil, this is a great post. One of many, I might add. I enjoy your contributions greatly. You seem to be quite a guy!

Post 25

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 1:21pmSanction this postReply
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Scott, thanks very much! I'm really a lousy human being, but I just write well...

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Post 26

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 2:46pmSanction this postReply
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I once did a ball-park calculation of how long my list should be for a reasonable chance of meeting someone who fits the criteria.

Starting with the world population, then narrow it down by gender, language, age, religion, geographic location, availability, certain physical attributes, etc. I was down to hundreds of candidates before I even got to figuring in mutual chemistry. Of course it was a very hand-waving calculation, but kind of a fun check.

JJ


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Post 27

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 3:31pmSanction this postReply
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Phil, it's funny you should mention "how your minds work" as one of the key issues. That's absolutely true, and something I know but decided not to mention because that's a vast subject in itself. I wrote something years ago titled "Objectivism and Styles of Thinking" on that very topic. The main point was that thinking styles -- what some call "cognitive styles," what the Brandens call "psycho-epistemologies," what I call "mental methodologies" -- play a huge role in our interpersonal affinities, in our selection of careers and hobbies and in our artistic and romantic responses.

Phil, you are correct: We can have philosophical and sense-of-life compatibilities with someone, yet be on a totally different wavelength in terms of how our minds work. Which is something not easily reducible to a checklist: It's one of those "I know it when I see it" personality characteristics, which we experience almost as a gestalt about others.

A subject for another day. Or book.

JJ: Forget the mathematical approach. It's meaningless. You often won't know it till you see it.

Scott wrote: "But the funny thing is, a new romance can uncover something that you never needed before, but now is a necessity."  Great point. We also evolve over time in what we want and need.


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Post 28

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 4:49pmSanction this postReply
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I am a huge fan of the checklist. I've always viewed it as less about the other person and more about figuring out what I really want and deserve. The act of writing the list put into sharp focus what I truly value and what I will not stand for. I made my list after the constant nagging of a friend who swore that if I made my list, the "universe" would send me the perfect guy.

As it turns out, a few months after I made the list I met someone who had every one of the positive things and none of the negative. Unfortunately this reinforced my friend's belief in the amazing power of the universe! I know the real reason it worked is because I figured out what I wanted, and so I was able to recognize it when it came along. The type of guys I had gone for before were less than I deserved, or just different from what I wanted. Knowing so clearly want I wanted made it easy to see the right guy.

Aquinas, after reading your post and the ensuing discussion I realized another reason the list worked so well is that I stopped wasting time on guys who wasn't right for me and I started acting like someone who deserved my ideal guy. I let parts of myself shine that in the past I'd kept quiet. Of course I'm happy that I found an amazing guy. But more important is that I'm a much happier person because I know what I deserve and see myself with a new clarity.

Post 29

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 5:16pmSanction this postReply
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Angela, GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!

That is exactly why one needs said list -- to get clear on the important things.

Rock on, sister.  ;)


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Post 30

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 7:07pmSanction this postReply
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That's an excellent post, Angela. The checklist IS about getting your priorities straight and learning what major things you're looking for in another person.

The checklist is not a platonic end-all and be-all. It is a major starting place. It's a mental list in your mind that automatically sweeps the bad ones from your life without a moment's hesitation. And, more important, it lets the qualifiers into your life so you can check out the rest of the story.

If the sense of life, the mind-working, the values and the virtues and the quirks align pretty darn well after that, then the rest may go pretty well -- unless one person still has a lot of growing to do or unless major values change or something else happens.

One thing I recommend for a potentially longterm relationship or marriage, which some others have talked about, is living together. It was then that Kelly and I learned LOTS more about how we operated, what we liked to do on an hourly basis, how we thought things through, whether we really wanted to be happy in life, whether we wanted to have complete and total resolution to arguments, how much honesty we had, what our weird habits were (and whether we could live with them), and whether the other one was really what the other one thought he/she was.

I have to admit that I still haven't gotten over the day that Kelly put the strawberry preserves ON THE WRONG SHELF!

:-)

(Edited by David Elmore on 5/23, 7:39pm)


Post 31

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 7:14pmSanction this postReply
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Angela Lucas:

"As it turns out, a few months after I made the list I met someone who had every one of the positive things and none of the negative. Unfortunately this reinforced my friend's belief in the amazing power of the universe! I know the real reason it worked is because I figured out what I wanted, and so I was able to recognize it when it came along. The type of guys I had gone for before were less than I deserved, or just different from what I wanted. Knowing so clearly want I wanted made it easy to see the right guy."

That's great, but have you exhausted all the positives and all the negatives that you could have placed on that check list? Has the list changed over time?  I'm willing to wager a bet that there's something about this guy that you have not considered on your check list.


Post 32

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 7:32pmSanction this postReply
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 Phillip Coates, excellent response.
 Robert Bidnotto, as usual you're very insightful.  


Post 33

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 9:31pmSanction this postReply
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My top 6 are:

 

Explicit Objectivist (possessing all the virtues and studies the philosophy)

Continuously works on improving psycho-epistemology (introspects often)

Understands the relationship between emotions and ideas

Passionate about their values

Positive outlook on life, wants to have fun or has that general approach

Healthy (exercise and eating habits)

 

Currently my total list is pretty long but the majority of these others consist of the nice to have.

 

I started out by listing ALL of the things I wanted in a woman (it might have been 50 at this initial stage). I determined some of what I wanted based on women from previous relationships (and friends) and also somewhat on what I was becoming. I realized these good traits that I was developing were many that I also wanted to see reflected in the woman I would pursue for a serious relationship.

 

I then began to order them by importance, and to subsume any that were derivatives of others. I also combined the ones that were similar.

 

This whole process helped me focus (zoom in) on what really mattered to me in a woman (and why) and if I had been settling in the past. This led to deeper question of why had I been settling in the past (but thatís for another post).

 

A woman that possesses these top 6 and one that Iím sexually attracted, well letís just say I want to meet herÖÖÖ..RIGHT NOW.

 

Iím not forgetting that the sense of life also needs to match to, but for the most part I think that can only be determined in person. As many of you all have said it takes a lot of time interacting with that person on different levels and in different scenarios.

 

 
Aquinas


Post 34

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 5:17amSanction this postReply
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David Elmore wrote:
One thing I recommend for a potentially longterm relationship or marriage, which some others have talked about, is living together. It was then that Kelly and I learned LOTS more about how we operated, what we liked to do on an hourly basis, how we thought things through, whether we really wanted to be happy in life, whether we wanted to have complete and total resolution to arguments, how much honesty we had, what our weird habits were (and whether we could live with them), and whether the other one was really what the other one thought he/she was.
Did you cohabit in a state with common law marriage?  Cohabiting couples need to watch for this lest the state marry them without their consent.

What exit strategies would you recommend at the start should the relationship of a cohabiting couple end?  In simpler terms, how does a cohabiting couple arrange things so they can cleanly go their separate ways even if one partner resists?
I have to admit that I still haven't gotten over the day that Kelly put the strawberry preserves ON THE WRONG SHELF!
What is the "right" shelf onto which to place the strawberry preserves?


Post 35

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 8:11amSanction this postReply
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Luke said,
What exit strategies would you recommend at the start should the relationship of a cohabiting couple end?  In simpler terms, how does a cohabiting couple arrange things so they can cleanly go their separate ways even if one partner resists?
First, I wouldn't cohabitate with someone unless I had ample evidence of her integrity, which would include her being an Objectivist -- and all the character traits that should entail -- or possibly someone who is so absolutely remarkable as to be an "implicit Objectivist" who will most likely become an explicit Objectivist.

I didn't check state laws before shacking up with Kelly, but I suppose a person could check them to at least ensure that you don't have to surrender any of the money you made prior to shacking up, and any other relevant items you'd be concerned about. As far as anything else goes, I might want to set up contracts (apartment, cars, furniture) etc. in such as a way as to have full control if I wanted that -- or at least understand that I could lose a lot of material stuff if the relationship fell apart. Separate bank accounts might also make some feel more comfortable.

I know that people often dissemble, but I think that if you are being honest and independent in your judgment of the opposite party, you should have a VERY good understanding of their character after just a couple of months, and especially after six to 12 months of living together.
What is the "right" shelf onto which to place the strawberry preserves?
It was the middle (condiment) shelf that I had used for 4 years of bachelorhood!!

;-)


Post 36

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 8:34amSanction this postReply
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JJ

what was your final count for the list?

Post 37

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 8:53amSanction this postReply
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I have never used a list. I should have at times, would have saved a ton of trouble. Long ago (in the flower of my youth lol) I allowed chemistry to be the necessary AND sufficient factor. I think if I were to advise my kids I would encourage the discussion of some questions such as below with a potential mate:

- What would traits or behaviors would you change/are you working on changing about yourself?
- How do you deal with conflict/arguments?
- What do you want to learn?
- When do you feel most alive?
- What do you value most highly (top three things) in a partner?
- Same question but about yourself?
- In a relationship who should be responsible for what?
- How should expenses be divided?
- How have you hurt people in the past?
- How have you been hurt?

This is by no means exhaustive, but you get the drift. A *conversation*, has to take place. Keeping in mind that people tend to be less than honest to impress :)


John




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Post 38

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 9:30amSanction this postReply
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John,

My final count for the list, besides the necessary items like age/gender/geographical region etc.,  was only like 3 things, before I even got to the important stuff like personal hygiene and integrity.  But my calculations assumed even distribution of characteristics in the population.  As you can see, reality isn't quite so dismal.  Like minded people tend to be drawn together and are found in clusters.  If someone wants an Objectivist, just look on Solo.

JJ


Post 39

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 10:49amSanction this postReply
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I thought I would list some of the questions I felt I had to answer while I was determining what I wanted in a woman and a relationship. Maybe these questions will be helpful for others that are going through a similar process. It would also be nice to hear from others some of the questions they might have asked themselves that they felt that were just as important but that I have overlooked. Thanks in advance.


  1. Why have I settled in the past?
  2. Do I not think I am worth the best?
  3. Am I afraid of being alone?
  4. Will I get or can I expect the best when I am not the best?
  5. Have I made an effort to find my love?
  6. What are my expectations from a relationship?
  7. How do I decide who I will be in a relationship with?
  8. What do I want in a woman?
  9. What mistakes have I made in past relationships?
  10. Why does there seem to be a difference between what I say I want and who I end up with?
  11. Are there any similarities between the women I have been interested in?
  12. What are my fondest memories from my past relationships?
  13. What exactly do I have to offer in a relationship?
  14. By what standard do I judge what is possible in a relationship?
  15. What role do I think sex and affection should play in a relationship?
  16. Do I think there is a need for a process of starting out as friends and then getting into a romantic relationship?
  17. At what point would I feel comfortable having sex in a relationship and why?
  18. What are my views on chemistry?
  19. How do I handle rejection?
  20. How should I handle rejection?
  21. How do I express my initial interest in someone?
  22. How do I gauge a womanís interest in me?
  23. What kind of change can I handle in a relationship?
  24. What kind of change can I not handle?
  25. What status do I place on the physical beauty of woman and why?
  26. How could I have been even better in my past relationships?
  27. How and why did I adjust my behavior in my most recent relationships?
Is there a connection between becoming more conceptual (philosophical) and having the capacity to experience emotions more intensely?


Aquinas


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