My cousin’s post on life partners got me thinking about what I’ve learned from my past experiences with relationships — romantic, platonic, or otherwise. (Her post on her changed views of arranged marriages is also a really good read because it outlines some of the same beliefs I hold.) Let me start off by saying that I was never a fan of arranged marriages. My parents had one, and I think it’s a pretty successful one, all things considered (ie. our somewhat shaky financial situation, my special needs brother, my parents’ polar opposite personalities, swapped stereotypical gender traits – my mom is more stereotypically masculine and extroverted than my dad who is more stereotypically feminine and introverted on a gender spectrum -, etc.) With all of those things in mind, the household in which I grew up is rather… shall we say… full of dichotomies. My parents guided me to excel in education, but they never forced me past my limits. They understood that I have weaknesses, but helped and encouraged me to find ways to make those weaknesses into my strengths. They know that I love reading and writing, but never put me down for it and only encouraged me to find ways to pursue those creative outlets. (They know I have this blog, and encourage me to continue writing posts, for example.) They know that I love math and science, but didn’t push me to only focus on that aspect of my education. So when I decided to pursue a minor in political science in my undergrad, they supported me. They know that I love politics, but they aren’t trying to dissuade me from entering local/state politics in the future. (In fact, they’re also looking to run for city council in a couple of years.)
My family isn’t exactly a typical desi family, whether you’re comparing them to a desi family in India or one here in America. They’re so un-desi-like that it’s almost illogical when they start bringing up marriage and dating and my future. I’ll admit that I’ve had at least 4 marriage proposals that I know of — turned them all down, thank goodness. But one of them, my parents were seriously considering, even though the guy is techincally my uncle — he’s my mom’s second(?) cousin. I am, to this day, extremely shocked and annoyed that they would consider him when I’m barely 22. When they start bringing up these things, and I tell them not to do it because I will find my own person in my own time, they think that I’m joking or something. It’s honestly extremely frustrating, to the point where I start wondering, am I in a gilded cage? I’m starting to feel less of an individual that can make her own damn choices and more like a piece of cattle waiting to be sold. I’ve promised myself to keep my head down and get through one more year in this house, because then, I will be officially free, thanks to working or going to grad school in a different state/country. I will defy gravity, finally. However, if they keep asking me these stupid questions after I leave, I may have to take more drastic measures… like not talking to them at all.
What my parents, and many relatives, don’t understand is that I have some issues and topics that are non-negotiable and off limits when it comes to joking and playfully teasing. Honestly, my best friend and unbiological sister (and her biological sister) understand more of my personality than anyone in my family. Ironic.
What I hope that my future life partner encompasses is:
1. A person who respects me, all of me, without trying to break down my identity to suit their jealous/insecure sense of self. I’ve been in a relationship like that before, and let me tell you, that it fucking sucks. It’s taken me a while to rebuild my sense of self-worth, but I know that I’ve grown even stronger and more Slytherin-ish. No one can bring me down.
2. A person who has his ambitions all laid out, who has a sense of purpose in life, and knows the basics of what they want to accomplish before they die. I don’t want to be stuck in a relationship where the other person essentially is a freeloader and I do all of the work. I don’t want to be stuck in a relationship where I’m the more ambitious and goal-driven one. It only leads to jealousy and turmoil — again, I speak from experience. My life partner should be equally goal-driven while respecting my career. Who expects me to respect their career and goals. Who is willing to help when I need it, and who is willing to let me help when they need it.
3. A person with whom I can stay up all night having intelligent discussions, who doesn’t try to shut down my opinions and mansplains their way out of discussions. Who is willing to point of the fallacies in my arguments and let me (try) to do the same to theirs. Who is willing to help me strengthen my own beliefs and sense of morality, and who is willing to let me do the same. Who is an avid reader, can recommend books easily with reasons why, and loves to discuss the philosophies that are explored in each book, no matter how poorly written. Who lets me do the same for them. A relationship where I’m being held back on an intellectual sense is extremely mentally draining for me, and will only lead to resentment and separation/divorce/breakup.
4. A person who is willing to let me fly sometimes, because I am the type of person that needs to be left alone at least an hour a day in order to function properly. I’m less introverted now than in high school or even in the beginning of undergrad. But I do need time to essentially recharge my social butterfly battery. My life partner shouldn’t confuse being alone with being lonely. They should be able to sit in comfortable silence while I read a book or I’m on my laptop, without bothering the shit out of me and distracting me. Someone who isn’t clingy and needs attention all of the fucking time. If they want that, then they should look into getting a dog, it’s more effective anyway. But that being said, they should know that these periods are just that — periods of time. It’s not the end of the relationship when I enter my shell for a while. It just means that I’m fucking tired so leave me the fuck alone. They should see that, if they’re mature enough, and are willing to wait. If they need me to do the same for them, I will — because I know how it feels when there isn’t a recharge for months on end.
Essentially, I want an equal for a life partner, and I expect them to want me to be their equal as well. Being in love and all of that romantic shit is nice and all, but I’ve learned that that isn’t enough for me to sustain the relationship. Even if I find the kisses and such to be arousing, but the person has a 1-dimensional personality, then I will get bored after a few dates. (Again, from experience.) Unfortunately, I can’t really explain my need to foster an intellectual relationship in addition to a sexual one in order to “settle down” with someone to my parents, now can I? Imagine the shock when they realize that I am an individual with sexual urges and desires, who knows what the fuck I like and don’t. Imagine the shock when they realize that I am in individual that thrives on intellectual debates and not just conversations on errands and bills and what’s for dinner. I’m not saying that my parents are ultra-conservative. They’re actually more on the progressive end of desi parenting, but in these topics, they tend to be more conservative. And I don’t fit into the image that they’ve concocted of me.