Monday, February 13, 2006

Perfect Partner

I'm responding to a tag that's long overdue, and in defence of my procrastination, I have to hide behind K's assertion that the quality of my posts improve when I take a blog vacation. I don't know if that would necessarily be true in this case. Here are the rules of the tag:

1. The tagged victim has to come up with 8 different points of their perfect lover.
2. Need to mention the sex of the target.
3. Tag 8 victims to join this game & leave a comment on their comments saying they’ve been tagged.
4. If tagged the 2nd time, there’s no need to post again.

Now before I even tackle the task at hand, I think I'll start with a small caveat. The list below owes its existence to a great extent to the nearly four years that my boyfriend and I have been together. I think everyone has a nebulous idea of what they are looking for in a partner, and before I met S I used to have my own checklist. It's useful, in that it helps narrow the playing field, focus our affections and eliminate dodgy prospects. The problem is, it also makes our desires ensconced within rigid boundaries, often leading us to overlook that which could make us eventually happy, but is not immediately apparent.

If there is a single insight to emerge out of my relationship, it is the fact that we know our happiness but very little, and there is always the possibility of learning to be happy in new ways. S and I have found new interests, new friends and discovered near-hidden aspects of our personalities in being with each other, things that we wouldn't have considered important or indeed looked for in a partner before. What makes someone a perfect partner for another person is an ever-evolving set, and indeed hard to enumerate. But, for me, these are some qualities that I cherish, many of which S does possess (and I'm not just saying this because I figured out you read my blog agapi mou):

1. Curiosity and Openness to My Interests: I don't necessarily want someone to mirror every single interest that I have. In fact a doppelganger who matches me in every respect, down to my favourite poets, would perhaps be insufferable to be with. But my partner should be willing to know and evince an interest in my preoccupations, knowing I'd do the same for his. Even if he doesn't like some of my interests, he should respect my fascination with them.

2. Sociable and Loves Company: I spent a greater part of my adolescence thinking of myself as an introverted person, only to discover later in life what a social butterfly I was! This is crucial, my partner has to love being surrounded by people. He has to love parties, spending time with our friends, a bonhomie that encompasses a wider social circle beyond just the two of us. Which of course, does not mean that we wouldn't love each other's company, simply that our happiness would only be enhanced in the company of others.

3. Has a Life of His Own: I quite like the idea of my partner having a fairly vibrant social life of his own apart from the one that we share, something that I'd possess as well. He should always have things to do apart from me, with his friends, and I'd want to spend time apart with my friends, or simply on my own. Neither should consider the other their only social ticket, or sacrifice their independent existence prior to the relationship to become joined at the hip.

4. Not Prone to Mood Swings: The brooding, intense man is sexy from a distance, but a pain to live with on a regular basis. I think the older one gets, the harder it is to deal with a temperamental man. Have you ever noticed in India, how in couples from an older generation married for ages, the wife manages to effectively tune out the grumpy old husband. The trade off is loneliness for the woman, no one to talk to. A cheerful and even disposition is a must, and so is oodles of patience.

5. Eternal Optimist: I have a friend who is into all sorts of new agey stuff. For her, people emit negative and positive energy, and those who radiate positive energy bring joy to those around them. I don't know what rays are being transmitted between people, but it is indeed refreshing to be around a positive person. Just as it is very difficult to stand a perennially pessimistic person. Optimism is infectious, and so is pessimism, and I'd only want to catch the right sort of infection.

6. Physically Attractive: This is so subjective, but this is all about me and my desires, so of course my partner has to be someone I consider physically attractive. Years ago, a cousin of mine wanted to divorce her husband after a brief arranged marriage because she found him physically very unappealling (with sufficient reason, I might add). The matter caused a mini row in the family, with people of my generation siding with my cousin, and my aunts and uncles vehemently opposing the divorce. One of aunts said then, "Purushmanusher aabaar roop ki?" (A man doesn't need to be good looking). The implication was that if a man could provide a woman financial security, every other aspect of the relationship was redundant.

I don't think so. Physical appeal is a big part of a relationship, and somehow in constructing the dichotomy of looks and merit, we at times fail to acknowledge this. And I repeat, this appeal is not some objective assessment that's carved in stone. It is very subjective, and varies significantly from person to person.

7. No Addictions: Even the most loving partner can turn into an ogre under the influence of substance abuse. Which explains why the wise women looking for love on Craigslist categorically state that the partner they are looking for should not have any addictions. I actually knew a woman back in India who was violently physically abused by an alcoholic husband. I love social drinking, and nothing ever comes between me and free wine at receptions, but consistent drug abuse and alcoholism is just not my scene.

8. Respect and Affection: And finally, the two most elusive, hard to define qualities that I want in a partner. It is easier to say what I don't mean by them. I don't mean deference, fear or loyalty when I say respect. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to say that my partner should consider me a competent person, capable of holding independent opinions, with the ability to accomplish professionally. And by affection, I don't mean obsession, a smothering, asphyxiating kind of love. Actually I have no idea what I mean. I do know that I see this affection every day, for which I'm eternally grateful.

I'd like to pass on the tag to the following, who'd all hate me royally for doing it:

Urmi, Rimi, Adagio for Strings, Jai (even though he hates tags), Bonatellis, K, Caramel Custard, and Eesh (who's been MIA for a while). I didn't pass it on to Anthony and Pidus, because they've already bared all and the posts were fun to read.


Blogger Psyche said...

I was trying to pick out the ones I agreed with and found that I totally agree with every one of your points!!

I'd have to rearrange them a bit. Would probably start off with point 8 then 3, 1, 6.. etc..

3:31 AM  
Blogger aparna said...

No. 5 is something i totally relate to and agree with. I don't know about this New Age thing, i guess it's more common sense than anything else. How people around you are, how they react and think, does make a difference.

The company we keep and enviroment/ambience around us can make us happy or sad.

And that is one of the most well... 'real' set of prerequisites i have come across, if you know what i mean :D

4:01 AM  
Blogger AB said...

Hey tagged again. Yay now I don't have to do it cos Mint Chutney has tagged me too. But it does seem fun and on second thoughts I am thinking of responding even though I don't have to;)

4:26 AM  
Anonymous tony said...

best ever response to the particular tag.. Great read, and very real unlike those fantasies that most people have written about..

8:37 PM  
Blogger rums said...

hi swati, thanks for the visit. must confess that i have been checking out your blog for sometime now but didn't want to intrude :)

11:06 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Hi Psyche, welcome. Do you know your handle means "soul" in Greek? The points are not arranged in a particular order, though now that I think about it, they must have been arranged in a certain order in my mind to have been written so!

Aparna, that is so very true. And there are people who are so like sunshine, they can brighten the dullest day. Thank you for your sweet words, it was important to me that I be honest to myself in writing this.

AB, I read your list. You're really digging this salsa thing :).

Tony, thank you so much. Sometimes what looks the most prosaic can be the thing that brings the most joy.

Rums, I'm so stoked that you've been checking the blog. Here's a confession, I check your blog on a regular basis as well, but when you mentioned Anandgram, I just had to squeal! I love the place.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

Ahem! :) This was a very cool surprise :). As for the posts. I will tell you about them in real time if I catch you sometime :D!

3:49 PM  
Blogger K said...

Can I politely say that I hate you for this.
And following your lead I'm entitled to two weeks of procrastination on this.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

No no no no, am worming out of this one. Enjoyed your post a lot but would hate to write one out myself. I used to have an idea of the kind of woman I’d go for but when I got into a relationship the first time there was almost no connect between the idealised picture and the real one. And that’s pretty much the way it’s been ever since.
The only thing that’s absolutely imperative in my book is a solid sense of humour, starting with the ability to laugh at yourself - by far the most important human quality (he said pedantically).

Btw, I agree that a doppelganger would be insufferable - I don’t think I could ever get on for even five minutes with someone exactly like me!

5:09 AM  
Blogger Rimi said...

dammit swati, i've actually sort of wanted to this tag, but YOU say most of the stuff I'D say! so what do i say, go read swati's post for my checklist? :D

10:17 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Adagio, we so need to catch up in real time. Trouble is I've been trying to catch up with another Pasadena resident for weeks and have been unsuccessful. Something about LA-wallahs and Pasadena-wallahs, unwilling to venture into each other's territory.

K, I knew I should have ordered that extra-strong armour :)! Procrastination is a noble pursuit, as I've well discovered in my life.

Jai, that's pretty much how it has been for me, which is why most of what I wrote is essentially describing my boyfriend (very cheesy I know, but I can't help it that he's such a goody-two-shoes).

But you know what, I know people who take that self-deprecating humour too far, and it is not very fun.

Rimi, I'm sure what you'd come up with would be in your inimitable style and have us wowing over your wit. You're really good at this, and you know that.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Bonatellis said...

wow!! this is tough to do ...

given my age, I've almost forgotten what these feelings are all about :)

will give it a shot over the weekend ...

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

That sounds soo good :) I agree (how can I not!) it all depends on the other person and how you get along. That sounds good :)

Err... achcha, somewhere along the road, I did make the assumption that THAT story you once wrote is TRUE :p (won't tell anyone)
Outta here before I get nailed!

11:54 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

PiduS, THAT story? Actually, everything I have ever written on the blog is true, I would make a very poor fiction writer (except that 55 word tag). So whatever the story is, do assume it's true :).

9:03 AM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

ya + he was too quintissentially show biz types. I dont like that. For some reason those elements of style are a turn off.

As for cheeseland. Dont you remember the time that such stuff used to evoke very strong emotions? Like in 12th grade or so? I dont know if you know what I am talking about. Everything used to be so extreme then. It felt so much mroe alive. (I can picture you shaking your head and disagreeing and going tch! tch! tch! :D)

8:14 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

No, I don't disagree. I used to get goosebumps with the granddad of all cheesy songs "Never Gonna Change my Love for You" by George Benson. Do you remember the revival that song had a decade ago in India when they featured it in a suiting ad? Oh dear, I have a lot to answer for!

1:38 AM  
Blogger aparna said...

Okay, I HAVE to butt in here. Yes, I so remember this song! It's 'Nothings Gonna Change My Love For You'. I think it was the Monte Carlo collection.

I was still in school or early college days methinks, and i would stop if i ever happened to listen to this song ANYWHERE!! I loved it! Gawd! :D

Yeah, sooo, sooo cheezy but of course it felt very different then :)

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Hiren said...

"Not prone to mood swings" and "Eternal optimists" were most interesting and the attractiveness part was practical. In my view, one should neither be a pessimist nor be an optimist but a realist. Mood swings can be dicey all right.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous tony said...

Madame TM.... You were so right.. like always........ the herb i was talking about... the one that go real good with fish.. the allium odorum... is YES Garlic Chives, or chinese leek, or chinese garlic... Get that and i am gonna give u a some real good way to cook it...

5:57 AM  
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9:11 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Aparna, thanks for correcting me. And yes, it was Monte Carlo. All the girls in my school used to swoon over the song :).

Hiren, don't know, but realist do I put it..not desirable? There's something very fatalistic about the realist, a lack of the dare to dream.

Tony, rest assured I will not gloat over this. Because I'm delighted that I can pop into my local Chinese grocery and buy the garlic chives to make yummy Manipuri dishes!

Anonymous, thanks. Will check it out.

1:09 AM  
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