Nobody who would insult a gift from grandma is worth it
June 7, 2020 7:01 AM   Subscribe

If you had to make a rubric for evaluating romantic partners what would be on it?

I was reading a AmIAnAsshole on this guy with a My Little pony body pillow that his grandma got him that his girlfriend was shaming him for and so I thought about this question.

Things on my rubric:
Believes in the fundamental humanity of all people without regard to race, gender or orientation. Tries to live that.
Are they too Normal?
Are they Passionate?
Can they make your toes curl?
Can they treat my friends and family with love and respect?

Favorite response from the reddit thread: willingness to give advice, not expect it to be taken, and support whatever choice was made.
posted by Rubbstone to Human Relations (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The first time you say no to something, or ask to slow down, or ask for space, they respect your request.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:05 AM on June 7, 2020 [24 favorites]

wow those are pretty big asks. I think most people would fail that last one.

At the outset, it's useful to have smaller shorthands, like "how do they treat waitstaff." And bigger general things, like "who am I when I'm with them."
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:06 AM on June 7, 2020 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: @fingersandtoes I responded I would probably fail that one and the commenter said they make sure to mention it as important to them at the start of a relationship. Also the best part of having a rubric is you can hand it to them at the start of the relationship.
posted by Rubbstone at 7:09 AM on June 7, 2020

Someone handing me a rubric would probably disqualify them in my book :)

I get the spirit of the question, I’ll add kindness to animals, and kindness when nobody else is looking.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:14 AM on June 7, 2020 [33 favorites]

This is a fun and important question, but I think my contribution apropos of this:

Also the best part of having a rubric is you can hand it to them at the start of the relationship.

would be: doesn't have a fixed blueprint for the relationship and doesn't give me to-do lists right off the bat.

A list won't save you from bad actors and might put a lot of good people off.
posted by doggod at 7:15 AM on June 7, 2020 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: You guys are probably, right about don't ever give someone a rubric. I still think values matter and its important to talk about those when the timing is right so people aren't surprised.
posted by Rubbstone at 7:20 AM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Being nice to waitstaff and other service workers, for sure. Also, I’d drop anyone who yells at people or gets super angry when driving.
posted by FencingGal at 7:31 AM on June 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Heya, Rubbstone, just a reminder that this shouldn't turn into a back-and-forth throughout the thread; it's okay to ask the question but we need folks to not try and use this as a general conversational space. If you need to add another comment at some point clarifying the question or whatnot, that's okay, but otherwise this needs to be a ask your question, let people answer, leave it at that sort of thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:31 AM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: On my list would be (for myself):

Has the capacity for a fision-fusion relationship, by which I mean that they are able, even happy, to live with an introvert who nonetheless needs a lot of intimacy and closeness. This, I suppose, would not apply to other personality types.

Is caring and daring. This covers a lot for me.

Is responsive & we can weave something together. For me, it is vital in any relationship to feel we can stand side by side and build something together, can be responsive to each other, and speak the same language, as it were. This is a bit about Gottman's bids for connection - can they read mine? Can I read theirs? Goes a bit beyond that, too.
posted by doggod at 7:31 AM on June 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: They can’t be politically conservative. To some extent “believes in the fundamental humanity of all people...” covers this, but I’m not playing around. No Republicans, no libertarians, and no “independents” who are really one of the previous pretending to be freethinking.

Must be funny, and think that I am funny.
posted by jeoc at 7:33 AM on June 7, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Intelligence, Kindness, Honesty, Sense of Humor, are traits I seek. What I've learned is to pay a lot of attention to behavior, because it reveals who a person is, often more accurately than their words. I can't imagine being in a serious and successful relationship with someone who is Republican or evangelical/ fundamental religious(of any religion). I don't want to spend much time with genuinely sexist people.

Too Normal? Why would that affect wanting to be with someone?
Nobody has to love my family and friends, but respect is a given.

I also assess myself. People with some education and an interest in the arts are more fun for me to spend time with. If somebody wants a mountain biking partner, or someone to glam up for events, I have no issues with that, but that's not me, and I might be able to participate occasionally, it won't be a regular thing. Define your values, you might not be perfect at your goals, but know what they are. Nothing wrong with looking for someone who shares your values and goals.
posted by theora55 at 7:42 AM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do they allow me to be myself? Do they respect my autonomy and my ability to make choices and live my life well? Do they appreciate and value me and act kindly towards me? Do we connect and laugh together? Can we travel and make complicated meals together and have fun doing these things?
posted by k8lin at 7:48 AM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: People who are jealous, insecure or controlling don't change. If you don't find those character traits appealing then you have to cut them loose. Strangely, I think some people do like it...but I am definitely not one of them.
posted by victoriab at 8:22 AM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do they have the willingness to follow through on the courage of their convictions? If they witnesses an exchange they *knew and believed* to be wrong (whether racism, ageism, ableism, anti-LGBT, etc.) and a person needed an ally or assistance, would they help or would they not do anything because they were adverse to conflict?
posted by dancinglamb at 8:31 AM on June 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As someone who would love to both give and receive a rubric -- and who has used similar structured tools to talk about relationships with partners in the past -- I would suggest that you consider adding that to your rubric! Someone who respects and appreciates the way you communicate is important. Those that feel a rubric would be off-putting or a dealbreaker wouldn't be for you. One way to think about your rubric and to present it to partners might be to consider it a list of agreements that you both make about how you'd like to show up in your relationship.

Some things on my personal rubric I haven't seen already mentioned:

- Has some ambition/passion/vision for their life outside of our relationship
- Supportive of my big dreams and ambitions
- Actively takes care of their own physical, emotional, and mental health
- Open-minded and willing to grow and change
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 8:58 AM on June 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

I don’t have a rubric, but I do have ‘deal-breakers.’ For instance, I had a previous relationship where the person could not get along with my mom, and it caused a lot of stress and fighting and unpleasantness, and it made me feel like ‘well, I am never doing that again.‘
posted by ficbot at 1:49 PM on June 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Years ago, I met a Southern Belle who seemed to have it all and I was smitten...until she dropped an " F-ing N-word " during a conversation about one of our work colleagues. He and I are still friends, I checked out on her the next morning after a sleepless night.
posted by lobstah at 3:11 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I couldn't have a stranger as a romantic partner and rubrics are for designing the perfect fantasy-stranger. it just doesn't make sense as a conceptual thought experiment. so I guess you could say that having a complicated rubric is a deal-breaker for me, except that deal-breaker lists are similarly odd, so I try not to have those either.

do I have standards? sure. I don't date racist or sexist or violent or really rude people or anyone who's not impressed by my wonderful cat. but that's not a rubric, that's just a set of fact about me. this is just..this is like trying to design the perfect coffeemaker or something. people aren't sets of attributes. the more specific these things get -- the tones of voice a loved one is permitted to have; the type of advice they are permitted to give -- the less interested the rubric-maker tends to seem in any real people other than themselves. anyone you can genuinely fall in love with will have qualities you never imagined in anyone before, that aren't on any rubric. because they're real, and you can't ever predict all the important things tucked away in the personalities of real people.

designing fantasy partners is a great pleasure, I indulge in it from time to time. but I don't believe it has much applicability in the adult search for real-life partners, unless for adults who have been so traumatized by abusive relationships that they can't read their own feelings anymore, and honestly need a list for reality-checking and safety. which I do understand can happen.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:14 PM on June 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: They take some responsibility for the things in their life that didn’t work out - not just laying the blame on parents, ex-lovers and coworkers.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:50 PM on June 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

At the top of my rubric is this:
My gut says "fuck yes."
I'm an anxious list-making sort and have been in my fair share of relationships that didn't work out. The worst ones were those that lasted years because the partner ticked a lot of items on my rubric, but it just never felt right in my gut. I thought that with time, my gut would align with my head, but it was the opposite. Every single long-term relationship I had that failed should have failed earlier, but I was too busy telling myself that this person ticked all the boxes on my rubric instead of feeling how I felt.

Eventually, I learned to trust my gut. Making lists of specific things is helpful and useful, but when the rubber hits the road, please remember to ultimately trust your gut about how you feel.
posted by nicodine at 8:35 PM on June 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

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