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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » How do you choose a partner? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: How do you choose a partner?
Heather
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Seems like a simple question, right?

But it's actually the head of a really complex pile of issues.

Which is why I'm curious.

How do you choose your romantic or sexual partners? How much of an active choice does it feel like for you? When you do, do you feel like both of you are choosing, or that only one of you is?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LadyLuck77
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For me, it's a mixture of both involuntary and voluntary actions. I am initially drawn to someone, sometimes due to deep attraction, respect, or enjoyment of their company (mostly involuntary). I choose to move forward with that feeling (voluntary), and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.

In best case scenarios, I feel like both of us in the relationship are choosing to be together. That is when both people really care about each other and want to pursue something real and meaningful.

It can certainly feel like only one partner is choosing to be in the relationship. That is usually, to me, when the other partner repeatedly exhibits behaviors that are demanding, selfish and cruel. That's when you know they aren't REALLY choosing to be with YOU, they are merely choosing to be involved in something that somehow meets THEIR current need -- sexual, emotional, whatever it may be.

Just my two cents. [Smile]

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Ptrst
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As LadyLuck said, choosing a partner is a mixture of voluntary and involuntary things. In my experience, the initial attraction is involuntary, but acting on it isn't - which is helpful in cases where you know that the person you're attracted to wouldn't be a good partner for whatever reason.

In order for a relationship to be good, it has to be a mutual choice. One partner can be the more dominant, one partner can be the one who first tried to initiate the relationship, but unless the other person chooses to be with them, and not just anyone, it's not really a functional relationship.

-Jamie

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Heather
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Okay...and by what criteria, if and when you choose to pursue a relationship, do you apply to a given partner in choosing them?

I'm interested in that half of the question as much as the first. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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-Lauren-
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I'd have to say compatible interests/hobbies, sense of humor, demeanor, intelligence and how much I grow to be physically attracted to them. I've found tangible attraction for me isn't instant; I notice a lot more things about a person that makes them beautiful as I spend more time with them.

I definately spend time as friends with people I eventually date for at least a month or more; going to movies, just talking, without any sort of attachment or pressure. If I feel like we'd be a good match, if they're fun to be around and let me feel like the best of myself, indulge me in interesting, varied conversations, I'll ask them what they think of a monogamous setup. [Smile]

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September
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Ditto what the first two posters say: I'm initially drawn to someone because I find them attractive/interesting/etc. And when I get to know them, I try to figure out if we have anything in common. One thing where I just work differently, though: My relationships tend to grow from friendships. All of my partners were people I'd been friends with for at least one year or more. My current partner and I had known each other for three years when we started to develop deeper feelings.

So what criteria do I apply? Well, first, all of the friendship criteria: they need to be trustworthy, they heed to respect me, we need to have some amount of hobbies and interests in common. For more to develop, we need to have certain values in common. And, obviously, there has to be mutual attraction.

So, as far as choice goes, I guess I chose my friends wisely. When an attraction starts to form, that's obviuosly not something that can be controlled. I can then decide whether or not I want to act on it, but as the saying goes, it takes two to tango and if the object of my affection feels differently, then it's not gonna happen.

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Johanna
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LadyLuck77
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I don't know that it is always a "defined" set of criteria, at least for me. We as people are constantly changing and redefining ourselves. Thus my own criteria for choosing a partner might change every few years or so.

Someone that is compatible with my current lifestyle, who has similar interests/hobbies, has a stellar sense of humor, intelligence, compassion...those things always can snag me.

But I don't think besides the basic core traits of being loyal, trustworthy, a true friend, etc., I have a checklist of things I look for on a regular basis. It's all in where I am at in my life and what traits and habits the other person possesses that connect and feel good with my own.

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summergoddess
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How do you choose your romantic or sexual partners? How much of an active choice does it feel like for you? When you do, do you feel like both of you are choosing, or that only one of you is?

The decision is both voluntary, and involutary. It's really a choice for me. With my current relationship of over five years, we both mutually chose to be together naturally.

As for criteria, I used to have certain standards for what I wanted my ideal partner to be in terms of appearance. That's changed. I've learned not to be so picky at that, but the criteria in terms of the person on the inside aka the personality, and how much we have in common is very important to me. Things like honesty, trustworthy, communicative, similar interests and beliefs and etc.

It has been important that the partner and I friends for a while before we entered a relationship. I've learned that if the friendship took place for a while (litterally more than a week) prior to being a couple, the relationship has a better chance of lasting longer, however it can't just base on that alone of course. All the boundaries of a relationship and the things you look for in a partner have to come together and click well with you. This point of view of mine have formed from what I have learned from previous relationships. I'm now married to my partner of more than five years. We were friends for almost a year before we started dating and had five years of dating before our wedding.

Jules

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~Jules

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thejoesboy
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quote:
Originally posted by Miss Lauren:
I'd have to say compatible interests/hobbies, sense of humor, demeanor, intelligence and how much I grow to be physically attracted to them.

The problem with using humor, intelligence, and demeanor as preliminary deciding factors is that understanding comes with time, not advice from a friend the next day, at least from a guy's standpoint.

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Ya Basta! Enough is Enough! - ezln

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to save the world.
-Nelson Mandela

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-Lauren-
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I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you intended to say that understanding of a person's personality comes with time, you'll notice in my post that I really do integrate that a lot.

(If you'd like to, perhaps you could chip in about how you select partners to help us get a better grasp of what you mean? That IS what this thread is for. [Smile] )

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missy07
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I love a guy that is very attractive and plays sports. But, the one thing that a guy has to have is respect. That's mainly the whole point of a relationship. Because if u can't trust ur partner then why r u with him/her in the first place.
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LucysDiamonds
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I am generally attracted to people based on intelligence first and foremost, then humor, looks, manners (a guy who's rude, disrespectful, and so on? Totally a turn-off, no matter how high he ranks in other departments). There's usually an initial attraction, and then it strengthens or weakens as I get to know the person better. As LadyLuck said, though, I don't really have a set checklist I use when looking for partners. If we're compatible, we get along, have similar senses of humor, can talk easily... it's generally a pretty good match. Occasionally I'll be attracted to a guy and it'll be the kind of crush where I get so nervous I can't talk to him, and that's a really good clue that he's NOT a good match for me.

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So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately
Everyone deserves the chance to fly

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not_a_hobgoblin
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Action, for me, is voluntary; attraction is usually involuntary. I am attracted to people based on intelligence, loyalty, blunt honesty, creativity, passion for life, looks, and unique personality quirks. I've recently made a conscious decision to add acceptence to that list too. Acceptence is very important to me.

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"Cut her down."
"She is a witch!"
"But she's our witch. Cut her down."

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lizenny
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For me initial sexual attraction depends mainly on whether or not I can say "Wow. You look like fun!" This isn't as much of a haphazard choice as it seems because in this case "fun" covers a number of factors including but not limited to:

-how interesting i find their personality and any implications I may derive from their quirks

-novelty

-boundaries similar to mine, apparent adventurousness and openness to new ideas (particularly my crazy ideas that have previously been met with weird stares and silence:p)

-physical attractiveness (not as important if the above are present)

Much of it comes from impulse followed by the active choice of whether to pursue the attraction or terminate it. To choice most obviously comes in when inquiring about the other party's relationship status and any other possible deterrents.

Also if I feel that I have to do too much rooster strutting and/or it is in any way apparent that the other party is not likewise attracted to me the attraction becomes immediately null and void and will most likely develop into loose friendship.

***BTW if this is beginning to sound like legal-ese in places it's because I've dealt with one-sided sexual attraction way too many times. As a result, I have a tendency to try to make the situation less awkward by following any compliments with what sounds eerily like a disclaimer.

...and all of that complicated mumbo-jumbo was only concerning my short term flings which in light of the above statements are quite understandably rare! [Razz]

Long term relationships are an entirely different creature. Rather than by choice by either of us, they just tend to spring up after we've been friends for a while and have had the time to become comfortable enough around each other to establish more suitable mutual agreements. The factors I listed above help but aren't as important here and I might add there is MUCH less fine print. [Razz]

[ 01-13-2007, 06:34 AM: Message edited by: lizenny ]

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I AM WOMAN...THE REMIX!!!

You catch more flies with manure than you do with honey.

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DeepJedi
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The reason I have registered here is that I have a big problem with the Western sex culture of which this website is just another endorsement. I'm currently writing a book explaining the problems that this sex culture causes and I'm fascinated by the way you have prased this question Heather: How do you choose your romantic or sexual partners?

Can you clarify for me please, if you are NOT intending to make a distinction between those partners you have for romance and those you have merely for sex. I feel I must ask because you didn't ask 'How do you choose your romantic/sexual partners?' or 'How do you choose your romantic AND sexual partners' (and had you done this it would still be open to misinterpretation), but (presumably deliberately) you separated the two.

I worry for a society that sees no harm in a separation of love and sex. I believe that a person should never have casual sex i.e. sex without love, because the sex act is too loaded to treat lightly e.g. one partner may be intending to have meaningless sex while the other partner could fall in love as a result.


BTW Lizenny, long-term relationships always begin like short term ones. How can you tell which is going to be which if they are totally different 'creatures'?

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logic_grrl
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The reason I have registered here is that I have a big problem with the Western sex culture of which this website is just another endorsement.

Perhaps you could explain a bit more what you mean by "the Western sex culture", and why you think this site is an endorsement of it?

I believe that a person should never have casual sex

And it's fine for you to hold that belief. But at Scarleteen, we're trying to accomodate and respect people with a diverse range of beliefs about sexual morality.

There is a difference between romance and sex - as you've pointed out, it's possible to have sex without love (and love without sex). That's true whether you think people should be free to engage in sex outside or romance or not.

e.g. one partner may be intending to have meaningless sex while the other partner could fall in love as a result.

You know, that could equally well be considered as a result of people equating love and sex.

On a number of occasions, we've had people on the boards posting about painful emotional experiences following from assuming that because they wanted sex or someone wanted sex with them, it must mean they were in love - or assuming that because they were in love, it must mean they ought to have sex - or assuming that sex is a way to make someone else love them.

So I don't think it's helpful or positive to perpetuate that confusion.

If you look round the boards and the rest of the site, though, you'll see that we do place a big emphasis on being honest with potential partners about what one wants or expects from a relationship, and also about the need for people to honour their own moral standards and not do things they feel are wrong or are otherwise uncomfortable with.

That includes supporting people who feel it would be wrong for them to have sex if they are not in love.

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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lizenny
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DeepJedi maybe I wasn't clear enough. Looking only at length of time you'd be right, but the particular kind of short term relationships I talked about in the top half of that post are mostly (if not totally) sexually based, making them markedly different from the ones I described on the bottom half of the post.

I detailled the beginnings of each and they do not begin the same way, at least for me. Perhaps in your experience they do. These variations are the reason why everyone else who posted in this topic did not type out the same exact formula. There may not always be a distinction between romantic partners and sexual partners but the point is there CAN be and pretending that such a distinction cannot exist is of no help to anyone.

[ 01-13-2007, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: lizenny ]

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I AM WOMAN...THE REMIX!!!

You catch more flies with manure than you do with honey.

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DeepJedi
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Edit: There's no need to be patronizing to other posters, especially towards those who are much younger than you and for whom this site is intended. Nobody should be put down for their sexual choices here, nor asked to defend them.

In light of your recent activity here, we must ask at this point that you read the "Notice to Adult Users" posted below. If you cannot live with those guidelines, we're going to have to ask you to post elsewhere.

Notice to Adult Users

[ 01-17-2007, 10:53 AM: Message edited by: Miss Lauren ]

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x_blackxrose17
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Well, I find that I've friends with people I've been seeing before. For example, the relationship I've been currently in started with him and I as friends. I guess I like getting to know the person better. "Choosing" someone isn't significant for me. Erm, "active".
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x_blackxrose17
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quote:
Originally posted by not_a_hobgoblin:
Action, for me, is voluntary; attraction is usually involuntary. I am attracted to people based on intelligence, loyalty, blunt honesty, creativity, passion for life, looks, and unique personality quirks. I've recently made a conscious decision to add acceptence to that list too. Acceptence is very important to me.

And I agree very much with the above quote. I'm the same way..
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pixeldot
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Initial attraction is definately the first step.

After that, I usually befriend them (Unless the object of desire is already a friend, in which case these steps happen vice versa) not in a flirty way, but just to get to know them better.

After I've decided that he's a good person, I usually flirt a tiny bit, and wait to see if he catches on. Most of my partners have been the result of mutual flirting.

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ninster8
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when i found mine i was actually trying really hard to be alone. i think that he found me in a way. they way i "chose" though, i think that by really finding myself i landed myself with a person who really understood me. my favorite part about my partnership is that we are honest and unconditionally understanding.

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November
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i am bad at chosing boys. any boy that i've started/wanted to start a relationship with has hurt me emotionally in their own "special" ways. i had a boyfriend who only used me to attempt to get sex (he's still a virgin for a reason) and he did not care how i felt about it because i wasn't ready. i had one boy not tell me that he got back together with his ex. and my recent ex was selfish and told me that i didn't care about him unless i (insert ridiculous favor here). they never showed their true colors until i was deep into the relationship. i used my past experiences from these idiots to set my standards for my next boyfriend. but like i said, i'm bad at chosing boys.

i had to have my sister do it for me! sherealized that when she hung out with one of her guy friends, it was like hanging out with me. she eventually set me up with him, and he's amazing. i met him on december 20th and he was officially my boyfriend at midnight on new year's. i've always found him attractive, and the attraction keeps on growing. our relationship is great probably because how i've been treated by boyfriends and by people in general. we've experienced most of the same things with a few exceptions. i've never felt a connection like this with anyone, boy or girl. he's like my best friend and boyfriend all mixed together. because i feel like he's my best friend, i find it hard to keep anything from him, and he feels the same way which allows us to trust eachother. we're very open about everything in our past, present and future.

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bluefreak44
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As for the voluntary/involuntary issue, I agree with many of the others. The initial attraction was usually involuntary; as I got to know a guy, his personality and actions would lead me to either be more attracted or less.

There were a few things I felt were necessary from a partner, because they were important to me. For example, I wanted to date something who had similar religious views, because that's a big part of my life. I also wanted to date another person who was saving sex for marriage (at least by the time I met him). I figured it would be hard enough to wait with another person who made the same decision (and it was; it's not like we don't have libidos), and it would probably be harder with someone who didn't personally make the same decision. Those were the main things, but of course there were other basics: nice guy, sweet, understanding, sense of humor, trustworthy, etc.

So I met my husband, was immediately attracted (and apparently that was mutual), we got to know each other over the next 9 months or so (we were both shy so neither of us let the other know of our attraction; and it was high school), and then he finally asked me out.

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OceanCrowned
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I used to think it was all about the intital 'wow' - that spark of mutual attraction. I had a rigid list of requirements that spanned from: athletic, musician, tall, etc etc etc. I was after your stereotypical jocky guy and found him in the form of the rugby playing sax trilling school prez - it lasted a week. A few months later and I had fallen for a different boy than I'd ever expected: a captain ... of the robotics team!!

We started off as friends, he could make me laugh for hours, and that progressed without my knowing it until I had a deep (completely subconscious) crush. By the time I noticed it he was ready to ask me out, he did and we've been together since [Smile] I've never been in love like this before!! [Smile]

Moral of my story? Friends first, boyfriends later for me [Smile] and it's terribly important to not be as shallow as I was as first, I learned my mistake - the 'perfect' guy was right under my nose [Smile]

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daria319
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I know I'm attracted to someone when I'll admit to myself, AND that person "I really want to see you again." It's usually the result of respect, intelligent conversation, and a bit of something physical.

For example, I wasn't initially drawn to my current partner. I found his physical appearance a little intimidating, and he was rather quiet, so it took some effort to get past that. After walking and talking for a few minutes, he offered me his jacket -- something I found rather sweet -- and then suggested that we go check out some of the nearby shops. While we were heading there, I finally noticed two quirky physical things -- eyes that seemed to change colours constantly, and elongated canines. I was not only attracted, but amused. (My own eyes seem to do the same thing, and his are only a richer shade.)

It's respect, quirks, chemistry...it's butting heads with someone and then laughing about it, it's a level of comfort that seems to just sneak up on you.

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"You owe me two lifetimes and a pair of perfect blue eyes."

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Marquis_de_Carabas
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I never "chose" my current partner. He chose me, apparently due to love at first sight. I know that when I met him, something about his expression meant I knew we could be great friends. That's what I think I would look for in a partner; that openness in their face that implies they want to know you and listen or talk to you. Plus he's got a very attractive smile, and he smiles alot. [Big Grin]

I chose my previous girlfriend because she had such amazing energy about her..she was so hyper 100% of the time and had so many personal issues about getting close to people. Selfishly, I liked the challenge. Unsuprisingly it was one of those relationships that lasts about 3 months and then crashes messily.

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James the Dark
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Simple answer, I don't.

Having my own, fairly substantial issues to deal with, I don't think it would be fair to my potential partner to saddle her with the responsibility of looking after my sorry self while I find the resolve necessary to remedy my situation. As much as I would like the support and comfort a partner would provide, I'm not in a position that I could be a partner myself. I'd be a leach, a soul-sucking parasite, living vicariously through her. And I'm not willing to do that.
If and when I can exit my current funk, I'll be more capable of choosing a partner, but at the moment, I'm just not ready for a relationship of any type. Hell, I have problems enough dealing with platonic relationships with those of my own gender!

That doesn't mean, however, that I don't find women attractive. Far from it. I just have a disjunct between finding them attractive and wanting to do something about it. Primary on my list of good qualities is natural hair color. It irks me to no end when somebody feels the need to alter his/her hair color. It's physical dishonesty. Similarly, I prefer a misaligned set of teeth to one which is set with perfection, because that, too, is result of cosmetic alteration. I just want people to be honest about who they are. What I'd really enjoy was if society dictated that all people introduce themselves with the worst thing about them, and that it had to be true.

Can you tell that I'm sick of dishonesty? I wonder where that came from...

Anyway, I'll let you get back to whatever it was you were doing more successfully before I showed up.

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"And you're really asking me if I prefer injury to embarrassment? That's not even a choice. I don't know anybody who's literally died of embarrassment."

People are annoying sometimes.

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thismoment
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I don't understand how anyone would want to be in a relationship where it feels like only one person is choosing? Surely all the people in the relationship need to want to spend time with each other, and to enjoy doing this, for them to care enough to make a relationship something worth having?

Anyway, to choosing... I think you need 1) mental or physical attraction 2) the other (which wasn't so obvious to begin with maybe) to then become apparent if they weren't both already. Personally, I think I'd find a relationship really difficult if I just had one of these two things... if it was only one of these things, it wouldn't be stimulating enough to substantiate a relationship. The two do mix, of course. It's like when you're first getting to know someone - you might find them attractive in some ways, or find certain parts of their quirks really amazing, but not as a whole. I think it's when mentally you really feel quite close to another person, when you put your trust in them, and that this is obviously reciprocated, that mentally, and thus physically, you respect and love them on a different level. It's kind of difficult to explain, actually, and I don't think I really can explain it.

Increasingly, and as a result of my last relationship (previous relationships, IMO, do shape what we look for in the future quite a lot), I look for someone with common interests. Someone with whom I can empathise, enjoy like passions, and they can do the same with me. It is always good to have things which are new, as well - interests that may, to a large extent, be separate and not shared entirely... you need both similarity, and contrast.

Beyond all these things though, enjoying their company, and really being excited about spending time with them, is what really makes me want to be with someone.

It's important not to be unrealistic, though: there is no 'perfect' person, we all have flaws... it's about whether you see these as 'quirks' and adore them, or whether they annoy you/ really don't appeal, that decides quite a lot. Still, what was 'quirky', can turn stale.

Oh, and also, they need to treat me well. Basic consideration goes a long way.

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Echinacea
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I believe that relationships, platonic or otherwise, begin with a combination of both voluntary and involuntary actions. The initial attraction to someone else is created through common interests, place (happen to be in the same class or club etc.), whether approachable, etc. because of these one will initiate something. Then both parties may then wade through the sea, walking along sand bars, exploring the coral reefs of their pasts, and swimming when it becomes deep, and if it is meant to prolong then both will swim against the current of the undertow. Friendships and romantic relationships are similar in their needs and whether they will last, I'm sure not everyone can see having certain friends in the far future, for example. Romantic relationships, further, should begin with friendship.
As for casual sexual relations, they should begin with trust and communication so that both parties are aware what they want. And if something becomes complicated, a debriefing should occur.
Personally, I think the beginning of romance, friendships, and sex should be a level of emotional maturity, where communication is ever present. There must be self-knowledge, therefore comfort with one's self, for it to be healthy and happy for members involved.
James the Dark: I want to thank you for that post. I have seen guys who have too much baggage become abusive jerks to my friends. And I believe for anyone without enough self worth and enough of their own balance should not be in a relationship.

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"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep balance you must keep moving." Albert Einstein

"The most intimate connections are that of today and tomorrow"-unknown

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richardmiller
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Some might argue that love does not exist. And I will retort: "neither does the biological need". Yes, the "biological need" emanates from the brain. Assembling a dick and two balls does not make of it an organ with a need. What's required is a series of interconnected neurones controlling that dick. If love is a by-product of your neurones, so is your life, your biological needs, and everything else.

[ 08-07-2008, 12:04 PM: Message edited by: richardmiller ]

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Blue Koi
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Tricky question. I think a deceptively simple question requires a simple answer.

My best relationship came to me when I wasn't looking super hard for companionship (which includes me going to swank parties, dressed to the nines, ideal boyfriend checklist in hand, hottie radar set to maximum range). It was when I had no make-up on (which is quite frequent because A) natural beauty is awesome B) mostly I'm lazy and if you don't like me without make-up I don't want to be your friend anyway), and I'm dressed in my workout clothes. If someone can feel attracted to me looking like that, then our relationship can only go up from there. I feel when you're not looking for someone, you don't try so hard, and you're more yourself, which will get to a better match.

The take-away idea: Attract your desired mate by not wearing make-up.

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"Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions."

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orca
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Big Vuvla, but the question is how do you choose a partner, not how do you attract a mate. So, what do you look for in another person when you want to date them? Do they tend to have certain personality traits or physical traits?

(And just as an aside, choosing to wear make-up or not wear make-up is a personal choice and a person shouldn't do either in the hopes of "attracting a mate" or impressing others but because they enjoy wearing make-up or not wearing make-up.)

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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smokey
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I was attracted to my current boyfriend because he actually gets me fired up... I haven't met someone who can irritate me more and get me angry like that... and he says he liked me because I'm a little brainy... we sort of grew on each other over a year though... after getting to know each other we liked what we saw... and we have interests that are acute opposites... it doesn't seem like the sort of relationship that will be long term, but it's a lot of fun in the meantime. Mind you, I thought we'd only last a couple of months... it's almost been a year [Smile]
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spockish
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I think it's mostly choice.

Now attraction, that's not choice at all. But, there are plenty of people I'm attracted to that I choose not to pursue even if I'm single.

Even if I'm attracted to someone, I would never be able to have a long term committed relationship with someone who: doesn't read/doesn't like to read, isn't intelligent, isn't ambitious (or at the very least has personal goals), and isn't mature.

And if I don't think I could have a long term relationship with someone, I might have sex with him or her, but I won't get romantically involved.

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