Sometimes life kinda has themes, you know? Last month was the month of the Really Great Compliments (I almost wrote a blog post about them, but then decided that would be conceited), and this month has been the Month of Questions Requiring Thought To Answer. For example, a while back I was blithering on in my (charming?) way about my plans for a me-made work wardrobe, and Mai stopped me to ask why I was doing this. And after a little clarification, I realized she wasn’t asking why I was subjecting her to my sewing-related witterings, nor why I was planning a wardrobe of work clothes, but why I was so stuck on sewing my own clothing myself. I was able to provide her a short(ish) answer at the time, but then had to spend time later working things out more in depth for myself. The short version of my conclusion is that I sew because 1 – I enjoy it, and 2 – there is no other way for me to get the clothes I want (style, quality, fit, color) at a price I can afford to pay. This went along with a realization that what I really want is a haute couture wardrobe, and since I cannot afford to pay multiple thousands of dollars for one outfit, my only option is to refine my sewing skills until I can make it myself.
Yesterday’s Question Requiring Thought came from one of my friends at work, who wanted to know if it would be a deal breaker for me if the guy I was dating didn’t go to church, and wasn’t as into their faith as I’m into mine. And the answer was probably, but not necessarily. Which took some explanation. The way I see it, the bedrock that you build a relationship on is shared values. A lot of the time, that translates to shared religious beliefs. But there are other values that can be shared. For example, a shared emphasis on healthy boundaries, or an understanding that Jar Jar Binks is a crime against humanity, having the same quirky sense of humor, or a shared love of children. So I can see a situation where I might share so many other things with a particular partner that we’re able to work around the fact that we don’t share a deep commitment to a particular faith. It would be really hard, and the two of us would have to work a lot harder at making the relationship work. But with the right, really amazing guy… it could happen.
Anyway, having to articulate all that made me start thinking about what I look for in a guy, and the process I go through when I’m deciding whether or not I’m interested in him. Which reminded me of a blog post from way back when I first started blogging, inspired by two analytically inclined friends who were blog-courting (the process when two bloggers are flirting with each other via blog post). Back then it got expressed as an equation, where various factors add up (or don’t add up) to romantic interest. Mine wasn’t very good, partly because I haven’t bothered to try to work with equations in years, and partly because now that I think about it, it isn’t really an equation for me (i.e. various discrete components adding up to a sum), but a process. So I think I need more of a decision tree, or maybe a series of levels.
Except I don’t always encounter the levels, or decisions in the same order. For example, I may discover that I’m not at all physically attracted to someone way before I find out whether or not they want children. Conversely, having someone make me laugh until I cry on multiple occasions may help me discover a previously unknown desire to, say, drag him into the nearest private space and do things I’d probably have to go to Confession for afterwards. So maybe it is more like an equation. I’m still figuring that part out. However, I think the levels are something like this (numbered for convenience, not for chronological order or importance):
- 1st level – Basic Compatibility: Is he interesting? Does he say things that catch my attention in a positive way? Do we have good conversations? Does he actually think about things, or just repeat the same tag lines he heard from whatever radio/tv/internet personality he favors? Is he interested in what I have to say as well? Does he make me laugh, and do I make him laugh too? Does he treat me with respect? Do I feel good when I’ve been spending time around him, or do I always come away feeling like I am lacking in some way?
- 2nd level – Character: How does he treat/view others around him? Is he kind? Does he treat people with respect? Does he say unkind things about other people, or make racist or misogynistic comments? Does he volunteer to help/serve others, or does he sit back until forced to contribute? Does he care for the people around him? Does he have integrity, and a good heart?
- 3rd level – Shared Values: Do we want to have the same kind of life? For example, do we both want children? Do we both value stability? Do we share an idea of what’s fun? For example, if he wants to go out partying every weekend, and I want to stay home working on a sewing project while watching a movie, we’re going to have problems. Do we agree on things like mutual fidelity, honesty, waiting to have sex until you’re married, etc.
- 4th level – Community Compatibility: Could he handle being around my family? Would he find them overwhelming and intimidating, or actively enjoy them? Does he have enough flexibility and acceptance to deal with a whole family of eccentrics? Is he willing to join in our games (i.e. dressing up in crazy costumes and reading Shakespeare on Midsummer’s Eve), or do they make him uncomfortable?
- 5th level – Faith: Can we talk about God? Does he put a high importance on having a relationship with God, even if he doesn’t have exactly the same beliefs that I do? Can we pray together? Does he love God? Is he committed to his faith? Bonus points: Is he the kind of guy who would go to Mass with me every Sunday, even if he wasn’t Catholic, and hold hands with me during the homily?
- 6th level – Physical Stuff: JPII put it best when he said that without that certain something, that chemistry and connection, all the other stuff just adds up to a beautiful friendship. (Seriously. He did.) So, you know, could I see getting into the same bed with him every night for the rest of my life?
And then today I was catching up on some blogs, and I read the post Darwin put up a little while ago about re-reading books. This is something I do a lot, read and re-read books, sometimes because I love the book, sometimes just because it’s there. I remember how totally taken aback I was when Bounce told me that he never re-reads books, that he didn’t see the point of it. So now that’s something else I’m going to be thinking about for a while. And maybe at some point I’ll post about that too.
In the meantime, last weekend was our annual Midsummer’s party, which was lovely as always. I didn’t take many pictures, being too busy running around mostly assembling fruit tarts. But hopefully Indy will put up some, and I’ll link to them. I also have Farm pictures to share, and maybe even some family news. But this post is quite long enough as it is, so that will have to wait for another day.