Jordan Peterson's Three Things to Look for in a Romantic Partner PLUS my NEXT SEVEN THINGS
Jordan Peterson's advice is probably much better than mine. That said, I've been through more marriages than he has so perhaps my experience includes more trial (as in, court trial!) and much more error.
I've cried a lot in the past 30 years because of relationships. I've given up entire careers because of bad relationships. I've went many wrong directions. Only now do i feel like I am in a good direction and that motivates my comments below.
I took the first three ideas (and the descriptions) from Jordan Peterson's post on thinkspot but I wanted to look at it with fresh eyes. Here is the original linke: https://thinkspot.com/discourse/mQu6GE/post/jordan-peterson/how-to-select-a-romantic-partner/b6mtwx
Then I give my own comments below each of his descriptions and ideas 4-10 are my additions.
Please comment, agree, disagree, add more, whatever you want.
1. Operate Truthfully
This is foundational. Cultivate trust in a relationship by being transparent about every action you make in your life. To start with, be honest with yourself first. And then share with your partner who you are and what you stand for. You need to constantly evaluate if your actions create trust in your relationship or subtract from it and vice versa.
MY COMMENTS: I 100% agree with this. I know for myself if I even have an ounce of distrust in any aspect of the relationship then I have trouble operating at full productivity. Maybe this is my problem. Maybe I have to deal with uncertainty better. But it's so easy for a relationship to start to "decouple" and go adrift if there are seeds of distrust. Those seeds only grow.
tl;dr - once you feel you have to look at the other person's emails or texts, the relationship is doomed.
One person I used to work for was actually recently convicted for installing a keystroke logger on his now ex-wife's computer. That's not going to be a good sign if you want a loving relationship that lasts into old age.
2. Ability to negotiate
The right person is someone you can negotiate with because there will be differences between you and them. And there should be because that means that the two of you are bringing different skill sets to bear the problem. That means that you have a more diverse range of potential responses, which can be good, but also that there will be conflict. Can you negotiate through the conflicts, and will the other person stick to their negotiated solution? If you find someone like that and they're of approximately the right age, and everything else seems to be in order, then that's a great sign.
Also 100% agree with this but he has one interesting point also. He says "approximately the right age". I wonder why he added that?
I know that when I was dating people where the age difference was significant (10+ years difference) often there was no ability to negotiate. Maybe they had just not experienced enough or maybe their negotiating ability felt a bit weak. I don't know. It just felt that the greater the age difference, the more irrational the argument.
It's very easy in a romantic relationship to turn negotiations into arguments. And then in those arguments, someone often changes the subject. Like in any argument, facts become irrelevant so if facts are used to make a point and the facts are correct, then the other side will just change the topic: "Well, forget that, but there was this other time when...." And the key is to always bring the argument back to the original topic.
One resource to get better at arguing and negotiating in a relationship is the book by Bill Beteet and Brandon Lemon (foreword by me) called "The Power Bible". We also discuss it on my podcast.
You don't want too much mismatch between you and your partner on the five fundamental dimensions. So, for example, if you're really extroverted and you have a really introverted partner, you're going to engage in continual conflict about how much social activity the two of you should subject yourself to. It's very, very difficult for people who broadly differ on those dimensions to come to a consensus because it's not just a matter of opinion, right? It's a matter of difference. This is why it's useful to understand your personality; it gives you a better crack at finding someone that you can actually live with over the long run.
I'm not sure I agree on this. I hope Jordan is wrong. For instance, Robyn is extroverted and I am introverted.
This doesn't mean I'm shy. It just means I run out of steam fast if I socialize too much (but I love socializing and making friends). Then I need to be by myself to re-energize.
Robyn is maybe more shy than me but she gets energy from being in social situations and she has hours more stamina at a party than I do.
Also, she is more of an outdoors person and I am more of an indoors person. And there are other ways we differ.
But this is where good negotiation comes in. I've been in relationships where the introvert / extrovert thing caused much much pain (to Jordan's point) but it's' only because I couldn't really trust what was going on at the party while I was sitting at home.
So I think compatibility is important but the negotiation aspect and honesty aspect is more important because you can negotiate across these areas where you are incompatible.
Would it be better for me to be with someone introverted? Maybe not because then we'd never meet people!
Would it be better for me to be with someone who is an indoors person? Probablly not because then we'd never leave the house!
4. MY IDEAS FOR FINDING A ROMANTIC PARTNER START HERE: Compatibility of strong values
Rather than things like introverted / extroverted mention above I think there needs to be compatibility across these issues:
- money. For me, money is about freedom and not buying things. I need to be with someone who has the same values as that. Else we'll go broke because I will always agree with whatever she wants to buy. Mostly because I'm afraid to say no!
Kevin O'Leary ("Mr. Wonderful" on Shark Tank) once told me you need to spend there years doing "due diligence" on a potential wife in order to figure out their values on money. I don't have enough patience for that so I hope I got lucky on that one!
- kids: Between Robyn and me we have 5 kids. I think we need to have similar philosophies on how to raise / treat kids, regardless of age, or that will be a source of problems.
- friends: you are the average of the five people you spend time with. So I have to trust that she will have friends that will help her remain the person I fell in love with. And vice-versa.
- I think on a spiritual level there needs to be some compatibility. I'm not talking about religion, etc. But just a sense of what is right and what is wrong. And how one should deal with the things that are out of one's control.
5. Sex and Attraction
When two people first meet, they are almost always attracted to each other at some level. And many say, "I dont' have a type".
But i'd be surprised if someone really didn't have "a type" or a range of types. The cliche of marriage is that the attraction eventually goes away. But I think if you find someone that really is close to your type (as opposed to society's defintion of what beauty is, which might fit only a small range of types), then the attraction doesn't have to dwindle.
Unfortunately , I am nobody's type. But Robyn is 1000% my type.
Sex and attraction, have non-stop relationship benefits as well as health benefits.
6. Interesting-ness as opposed to intellectual similarity.
Robyn and I have totally different backgrounds, different education level, different interests.
But she has a unique set of viewpoints and I always listen to her because I learn something each time. And I hope the same is true in reverse.
It doesn't matter if she's read the same books. She has a unique perspective (and many people just have the media-given perspective) and that always keeps me on my toes when talking to her.
I can ALWAYS make her laugh. Even in the middle of an argument. I think this is key in a relationship. Laughter trumps just about everything in communication. If you can make someone laugh, or someone can make you laugh, then that's a good thing.
Note: it just has to be in one direction. i.e. I can make her laugh but maybe not as much in reverse. But I guess it's great if both sides can make each other laugh but doesn't seem to matter as much.
8. Sobriety and Sanity
This is maybe related to Jordan Peterson's values. But if two people (or one person) is not sober then it's going to be hard to have a growing relationship.
And addiction is in all forms: drugs, alcohol, sex, work, gambling, watching tv, etc etc etc.
They say that once an addiction starts, the emotional maturity of the addicted person freezes in time and no longer grows.
As someone who has been addicted many times to many different things, I can say this is true. As someone who has overcome this (knocking on wood) I can also say you grow as a person by getting through these issues.
You can't even look for an ideal romantic partner until you can recognize addictive behavior in your self or others, and then how to deal with it when you recognize it in either person. I am always going to have an addictive personality but knowing how to recognize when that becomes negative and knowing what to do with it becomes key to my survival, either by myself but particularly the survival of a relationship.
Sanity is just that: some people are mentally ill. Anyone mentally ill can still have a life-fulfilling relationship. But, again, they have to be aware of the onset and then know what to do about it and act on it.
9. Don't take it personally
When I am in a relationship, the other person is my mirror. For better or worse.
If she feels bad about me, then i feel like I'm a lousy person. If she adores me that particular moment, then I adore me.
This is not such a great way to be. I may end up feeling lousy even though Robyn's feeling that moment have nothing at all to do with me. She might be sick or worried about something that has nothing to do with me.
Hence, Jordan's #1 on honesty is very important. What's on your mind and are you able to honeslty convey that it has nothing to do with your romantic partner.
Or, even if it does, if Robyn has a problem with me the key for me is to not convince her that SHE'S WRONG (although she is!) but that "this too shall pass" and I should continue being the best I can and let her go through her thing. I have a hard time with this.
We tend to assume that negative behavior aimed at us is malicious. But look for the list here at notepd by sahil bloom on "razors". Often we assume negative behavior is malicious when 99/100 times it has nothing to do with us. i.e. don't take it personally.
10. Be patient.
After my divorce, I asked a lot of couples that seemed successful to me how they found each other. I would go into "podcast mode" at a party when I saw a happy couple and start drilling them on how they met.
Many of them said that, independently of each other, they made lists of the traits they wanted in a partner. And then when they met the partner they were were they realized that partner had those traits.
I think that's a good idea. I often rushed into relationships even though I knew the person wasn't right for me. Maybe I wasn't that attracted or maybe there was an alcohol issue or a trust issue.
But I would always get excited too quickly, thinking that if she likes me in that "we just met so we love each other!" sort of way then all those other issues will go away.
But they don't.
I really wish I had been patient and just worked on improving myself until I met the person with the traits I wanted (Robyn) instead of trying to deal with situations I could've guessed would have made me unhappy. It's the most stressful thing to be in a relationship that is not working out pretty quickly.
Any time you spend arguing is time you could've spent improving yourself or working on your own opportunities.
11. IN SUMMARY: (and one very important rule i forgot: THE 90/10 RULE)
In summary: I like Jordan's 3 item list but with enhancements. This is what is more important to me: in order:
C) compatibility of VALUES (not necessarily the other features Jordan mentions). Values on money, parenting, monogamy, relationships. You don't even have to poliically agree on stuff. That stuff is meaningless.
D) attraction. Even if you fall out of attraction, make this a primary focus throughout the relationship so that it doesn't drift.
E) The 90/10 RULE!
I can't believe I forgot this.
When I do standup comedy I would often get at the club early and sit there while people were seated. I would look for the couples that seemed to be on dates vs the couples that have been married for a long time.
You can always tell by what I call the "couples sitting in a comedy club equation".
The equation is: Years married = inches they sit from each other.
If it's a third date and they just had sex for the first time, they are practically sitting on each other. They are glued.
If they have been married 10 years, they are sitting ten inches apart.
If they have been married 20 years, 20 inches apart. In fact, they are probably sitting at two different tables, each with their own friends.
Based on this, part of my act would be to predict how long each couple had been together. Most of the time I was right.
So whenever I saw a couple sitting 20 inches apart but seeming happy I would ask them the secret of their marital success.
Many many times the answer was the "90/10 rule".
The guy would answer my question, "I put in 90% of the effort."
But then the woman would also say, "And I also put in 90% of the effort! Each side has to put in 90%". And they would usually laugh then.
I got that exact same answer many times.
So I guess the key is: if things start go adrift, A) recognize it. B) diagnose it. C) put in your 90% to fix it.
This is where that book,. "The five love languages" might come in. Figure out your partner's "love language" and indulge them in it. Put in your 90% even if it's difficult right then.
As always, it's how your each when things are difficult that separates the couples that survive from the couples don't. Just like in business or in competition or in anything else in life.