24 votes

What do you appreciate about your partner(s)?

In all of the recent talk about incels, gender differentials in home tasks, and domestic violence, there's been little discussion about what makes a good relationship - sexual, psychological, experiential or other compatibilities. There's a great deal of "Psychology Today" material on what makes for successful relationships, but it seems facile and the product of research on young WEIRD participants.

So, dear Tilders, if you have or have had a partner(s) you've been genuinely happy and satisfied with, and felt like your relationship was healthy, please discuss what made you so...

21 comments

  1. patience_limited Link
    As to mine, he's a best friend; hawt to the extent that he knows what I like and makes really good, inventive guesses; accepts the inevitable mistakes. Each of us arrived at atheism and humanism...

    As to mine, he's a best friend; hawt to the extent that he knows what I like and makes really good, inventive guesses; accepts the inevitable mistakes.

    Each of us arrived at atheism and humanism by our own routes. Neither of us is particularly straight, monogamous, or gender-conforming, even though we happened to look like a heterosexual couple. We've tried to maintain awareness of the extraordinary privilege of finding someone who's a fit without legal sanction, whose partnership doesn't challenge others' conventional preconceptions and moral learning in broadly unacceptable ways.

    He thinks well enough that he makes me think better. We're funnier and better entertainment for friends together than individually. We have separate, but overlapping, social circles, and for the most part, anyone that either of us decides to invite in is welcome to the other.

    We've learned how long a leash to give each other; we each have our mental health mysteries, and have a pretty good idea of when intervention is needed.

    We agreed early on that we weren't interested in raising children due to our mutual experiences of damage, and though we delight in other people's kids, have few regrets.

    We step up to take care of each other's gender role "failures" - I deal with household network, plumbing and electrical stuff; he's a better cook and financial planner than I am, and we're pretty comfortable with parsing things out that way.

    Politically, we're amazingly complementary for a red-diaper baby and a former Goldwater Republican. I look forward to getting old with him.

    It hasn't always been a smooth journey, over the course of 24+ years; we've had to forgive trespasses, grow up, or otherwise learn to be better people in order to tolerate one another. But companionship is always possible, even for people who believed they were too different/ugly/extreme to find anyone.

    11 votes
  2. [4]
    barnesjon (edited ) Link
    I'm 32 years old and have been married for almost 14 years, yes I got married when I was 18. Our relationship has been enormously successful because my wife and I are a team. We have both made...

    I'm 32 years old and have been married for almost 14 years, yes I got married when I was 18. Our relationship has been enormously successful because my wife and I are a team. We have both made mistakes and had issues, we've both slacked and haven't pulled out weight but we have both been patient with one another. We have allowed each other to grow and to change and we've allowed ourselves to be changed.

    The worst advice a young person can get is "You are perfect the way you are", it's 100% false. Firstly, no one is perfect. Secondly, anytime you bring two or more humans to gather in the same area concessions must be made. Things have to be shared, habits have to change, and agreements have to be made.

    I believe the definition of a good relationship is two people who care enough to change for another, they actively attempt to serve each other as much as possible, and they are committed to sticking it out through the roughest times.

    Extreme caveats: No one should put up with violence physical, emotional, sexual etc. National domestic abuse hotline https://www.thehotline.org/ ( if you are suffering reach out)

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      Grendel Link Parent
      I got married at 19 and I can agree with this completely. My wife and I have had to grow up together, and while it was hard it has made us stronger in the long run. I think that when life is too...

      I got married at 19 and I can agree with this completely. My wife and I have had to grow up together, and while it was hard it has made us stronger in the long run. I think that when life is too easy the first few years of a relationship people are more likely to bail when things get harder down the road because they don't know how to work through hard times.

      2 votes
      1. jsx Link Parent
        I got married at 23 and also totally agree. Relationships require more work the longer they endure, however hopefully the more time you and your SO spend together, the more seamlessly you can...

        I got married at 23 and also totally agree. Relationships require more work the longer they endure, however hopefully the more time you and your SO spend together, the more seamlessly you can communicate about your needs and what compromises you both have to make.

        It's easy when a relationship is new and exciting, but to turn that spark not only into a roaring fire, but to keep things going as it inevitably simmers down requires effort. I always think of this Bruce Lee quote:

        Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.

        2 votes
    2. patience_limited Link Parent
      It's amazing how much people change between 18 and 30 - I know my first long-term relationship didn't make it through all the growing up I had to do, and it's good to hear that you're successful....

      It's amazing how much people change between 18 and 30 - I know my first long-term relationship didn't make it through all the growing up I had to do, and it's good to hear that you're successful.

      Do you think that there are things your wife brings to the table that help you, or give you opportunities to, as the spouse and I say to one another, "work on your sh*t"?

  3. Lynndolynn Link
    I'm not in a relationship now, but what I really appreciated in my last relationship was how honest we could be with each other. We could talk about how we made each other feel (both positively...

    I'm not in a relationship now, but what I really appreciated in my last relationship was how honest we could be with each other. We could talk about how we made each other feel (both positively and negatively), what was bothering each other, what we were stressed about, etc. Heck, occasionally we could even talk politics, since we had pretty similar views. I almost never felt like I had to hide anything from her.

    Another thing I liked was how affectionate we were with each other. I love sex as much as the next girl, and we certainly had plenty of it, but what really gets me is just the little affectionate things, like a kiss on the cheek, or holding hands, or cuddling, or lying on the other's lap, or even just saying "dear" or "I love you" and looking into each other's eyes lovingly. I was a guy as far as anyone knew during that relationship, and since then I've started hormones to medically transition to womanhood. I'm pretty sure those hormones have only increased my need for affection, and I'm really missing it. ×_×

    I also really like how we could spend time doing separate things together. You know, just sitting in the same room, doing separate things, but enjoying each other's presence and occasionally expressing small affections to remind each other that we're together.

    It was a really good relationship, at least for me. I know I did a lot of really stupid stuff during and after, but I was really happy for 3 years. I miss having that.

    7 votes
  4. [3]
    Catt Link
    We both need a lot of solitude and it's perfect. We can be doing alone things alone and together! And we also playing games and watch series together a lot, when we want to. It's been insanely...

    We both need a lot of solitude and it's perfect. We can be doing alone things alone and together! And we also playing games and watch series together a lot, when we want to. It's been insanely smoky by us this year, otherwise, we spend a lot of our time going to the mountains and hiking and just enjoying each other's company. I think we just fit really well.

    6 votes
    1. patience_limited Link Parent
      Oh, yes, this - the sense that when you're both in a room reading silently or banging away on the computers, it's still companionable. There are weird, jangly days when "you're breathing too...

      Oh, yes, this - the sense that when you're both in a room reading silently or banging away on the computers, it's still companionable. There are weird, jangly days when "you're breathing too loudly" can be a thing, but mainly that's a sign that we need to GTFO work and crowds.

      3 votes
    2. Lynndolynn Link Parent
      Ahh, I love doing alone things together! It's just the best. :)

      Ahh, I love doing alone things together! It's just the best. :)

      2 votes
  5. Petril Link
    My husband is awesome! We haven't been married that long, so we're still figuring things out, but it's really good. One of my favorite things about us is that we try to stay very calm in...

    My husband is awesome! We haven't been married that long, so we're still figuring things out, but it's really good.

    One of my favorite things about us is that we try to stay very calm in discussions and arguments. It doesn't always work, but we've been hitting a stride lately where both of us actively work to say exactly what we mean in an argument, rather than ramping up the emotion and making each other feel bad. He's been able to say "It makes me feel bad when you do..." and while it's hard to hear, I knew he was right and I'm working on it.

    But the thing I love most about my stereotypical manly-man-looking bearded husband is that he is so much more in touch with his emotions than he looks. He often cries at movies or just because our newborn niece exists. He is sometimes the living embodiment of gender-role fuck-offery and I am so grateful. He is proof that you can be honest-to-goodness passionate about movies and music and comics and television and MMA and football and children and family; you can talk openly about how you not only love your wife, but that you like spending time with her; you can be moved to tears by happiness and sadness and lonleiness and love; you can do and be and feel all of those things and still be a man.

    Don't get me wrong, he still annoys the shit out of me sometimes, but he is hard-working, passionate, loving, demonstrative, and he is my best friend.

    5 votes
  6. [9]
    pamymaf Link
    Thank you so much for the added (s) on partner(s)! I have two and a half partners right now and they're so amazing to me. Me and partner B both come from not-so-nice home environments and he's so...

    Thank you so much for the added (s) on partner(s)! I have two and a half partners right now and they're so amazing to me.

    Me and partner B both come from not-so-nice home environments and he's so in tune with how my emotions work. We both have dissociation disorders and PTSD, we don't often have to explain why something odd or harmless hurt us, just that it did. We both understand how and why. He helps me keep track of my moods (I'm bipolar) and in turn I help him experience new things and keep life interesting. He's a ball of cute actions, adorable noises, and genuine love. He's amazing and always knows how to cheer me up.

    Me and partner C also share some mental quirks. We're both somewhat autistic (them more than me), and we both are trans. While we occasionally get in loops of not being able to understand why the other feels the way they do, our relationship is based more on intellectual discussion of how things work. They always have some crazy idea in their head that I love to help them out with. If I ever need some obscure piece of information, it's more than possible that their mind holds the answer.

    FWB Z wouldn't necessarily count as a partner to a lot of people, but he's one of my closest friends. We dated for a while when I was just coming out of highschool but broke it off because one day I wanted cohabitation, possibly kids, and I was just figuring out that I am polyamorous (more than one love). Z wants no kids, would probably be happiest living on his own, and is/was believed to be monoamorous. After I got out of an abusive relationship me and Z got back in touch and found that the spark is still there. He's currently dating my HS BFF (they're so cute together!) and lives a few minutes away. Our relationship is built on him liking to take care of people, me needing somebody stable in my life, and how we both love debates and talking about sociology and psychology.

    I also find it interesting that my two fiances are queer (B is pansexual/panromantic. C is gray ace, primarily feminine-attracted, trans, and nonbinary), but Z is a cishet male. It's good to surround yourself with a variety of different people and opinions (even if you don't date all of them ;P )

    4 votes
    1. [8]
      patience_limited Link Parent
      Poly/non-monogamous is complicated! I've been in, and still have friends in, various geometry projects. Honestly, if it came to raising kids, I'd want a whole village of people who've actually...

      Poly/non-monogamous is complicated! I've been in, and still have friends in, various geometry projects. Honestly, if it came to raising kids, I'd want a whole village of people who've actually negotiated their relationships with one another out loud, instead of defaulting to DNA lineage and hormones.

      Respect to the youth, but we're too old, creaky and sluggish to manage much more than a passing amour these days.

      2 votes
      1. [7]
        pamymaf Link Parent
        This is what my full 'cule looks like. It's a lot. https://polycul.es/4d56bba

        This is what my full 'cule looks like. It's a lot.

        https://polycul.es/4d56bba

        1. [4]
          Lynndolynn Link Parent
          That's a pretty complicated map! Out of curiosity, what's the "Family" link between C and A? And where do you live where you can have a 3-person marriage?

          That's a pretty complicated map! Out of curiosity, what's the "Family" link between C and A? And where do you live where you can have a 3-person marriage?

          1. [3]
            pamymaf Link Parent
            A lives with me, C, and B. Me and A say 'siblings with benefits' because our relationship doesn't fit normal standards. Sexual, but more of a family bond? Similarly, A and C feel a connection. But...

            A lives with me, C, and B. Me and A say 'siblings with benefits' because our relationship doesn't fit normal standards. Sexual, but more of a family bond? Similarly, A and C feel a connection. But it's not exactly romantic, but they also occasionally have sex? We have no words other than family.

            For the three way marriage, it's not going to be legal. But I wear a ring on my left ring finger and one day we'll have a nice marriage ceremony. We're also all (me, C, B) going to be changing our names to the same last name that we chose ourselves.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              Lynndolynn Link Parent
              Ooooh, okay. I interpreted "siblings" as literal, haha.

              Ooooh, okay. I interpreted "siblings" as literal, haha.

              1. pamymaf Link Parent
                I should edit that to "siblings" to show a little bit more of the non-normalness of it

                I should edit that to "siblings" to show a little bit more of the non-normalness of it

        2. [2]
          patience_limited Link Parent
          Not even going there - at one point, counting exes, I'd have had something like a small ditrigonal dodecicosidodecahedron, and yes, it was a fractally incestuous community. That being said, I have...

          Not even going there - at one point, counting exes, I'd have had something like a small ditrigonal dodecicosidodecahedron, and yes, it was a fractally incestuous community.

          That being said, I have deep regrets for not treating everyone involved better, for not being more open, honest, mentally together and grown-up, and for failing to acknowledge the harm done through my own ignorance and instability.

          1. pamymaf Link Parent
            Polyamory can be really hard and damaging if not done right. With my current triad we just fell into things. I started dating them within 6 months of the other and they were both living with me...

            Polyamory can be really hard and damaging if not done right. With my current triad we just fell into things. I started dating them within 6 months of the other and they were both living with me working one year of dating the first. It was fast and intense and so much work... But I wouldn't give it up for the world.

            1 vote
  7. Qis Link
    oh man she's so cute she looks like a boy and she's nice to me and we live together

    oh man she's so cute she looks like a boy and she's nice to me and we live together

    3 votes
  8. Syzygy Link
    My wife and I have been together for about 10 years now and married for 3. We are very similar personality wise, but we are also very different in a few key areas. For example, I'm quite...

    My wife and I have been together for about 10 years now and married for 3. We are very similar personality wise, but we are also very different in a few key areas. For example, I'm quite introverted and need quiet time at the end of the day to recover while she is quite extroverted and is disappointed at the end of the day if she doesn't socialize enough. Another area where we are different is that I am very logical in how I approach decision making while she is very emotional.

    It's these areas that we are different which makes me really appreciate my wife. She gets me out of my comfort zone and has me socialize more than I normally would. She helps me to be more compassionate in times whete I would normally be cold and calculated. She makes me a better person by helping me in the areas that I struggle with and I help her in the same way.

    2 votes