Accentuate the Negative

Back when I was a single man, I had a very specific list of characteristics I desired in my future mate:  Sense of humor, intelligence, kind heart and obviously good looking.  My newly minted wife, before she was my newly minted wife, had her own list of desired traits for a partner:  sense of humor, intelligence, kind heart and obviously good looking.  Interestingly, we had the exact same list, but more interestingly, everybody has the exact same list.  The positive qualities that one desires in a partner are universal.  Therefore, what truly differentiates between some random guy you just met and a potential long term commitment is not the positive, but rather the negative.

When I think about qualities I least desire in a person (my so-called “deal breakers”), there really is only one thing that drives me continuously nuts.  I can’t stand dependency in people.  I don’t mean the dependency where your parents are helping you with the bills; I mean the debilitating dependency where a person can’t make a decision on their own.  The kind of dependency where a person can’t even manage their own day to day without calling their mother/father/sister/brother/BFF.  I have issues with people who can’t “hand their own business”.

That’s not to say they aren’t wonderful people (many of my friends are like this), but it is definitely something that is a huge turn off in a life partner.  For my newly minted wife, her “deal-breaker” is dishonesty.  She would rather here the brutal painful truth than have someone skirt around the issues.  She can’t stand it when people give her the runaround, even if it is in her own best interest sometimes.

I bring this up because I think women and men judge too quickly based on superficial information.  So what if he only delivers pizza; it doesn’t mean that he lacks ambition.  So what if he writes back-office software code for an investment bank; it doesn’t mean he boring.  Surface flaws aren’t necessarily bad, what truly makes a difference are the deeper “deal-breakers”, and this takes time to discover.

I think it is important to understand this because ultimately the negative sides of a partner matter much more than the positive in the long run.  Everybody has the same list of positive qualities, but the negative qualities truly differentiate between people, and in order to maintain a committed relationship you need to accept and love the negative sides of a person.

Therefore, try looking at the reverse angle.  Think about what are your true “deal-breakers.” Over time you will learn more about your potential partner, and you will discover if they possess the qualities of your “deal-breaker.” Unfortunately, if they do, it will be very hard to maintain a relationship and you should re-assess because it is difficult to be committed to someone who constantly disappoints you.  For example, it would be extremely difficult for me to be in a committed relationship with someone who is not independent in spirit.  Or, it would be extremely hard for my newly minted wife to marry someone who is fundamentally dishonest.

Take the time to get to know your potential new BF, and be willing to forgive their initial superficial flaws; you too have superficial flaws.  If you understand what you truly don’t want then you have a higher probability of avoiding bad relationships.