So very good to chat with you, as always.
And it’s flattering of course that you would think of me when considering who might be a suitable romantic partner for your Venice architect friend.
To answer your question as to what I wish for in a suitable partner for myself is, on the one hand, both simple and easy for me to do quickly. On the other hand, to convey this more clearly takes more time and nuancing than was possible during our lunch chat. So here’s a more thorough response.
It’s such a complex/intimate thing that I find it, naturally, very difficult to just start ticking items off like a shopping list. We as persons with our unique interests and needs as potentially suitable holistic (and hopefully life-long) romantic partners aren’t so easily cataloged!
But here’s some outline notes that might give you some idea of what I value and desire, worked into tiny word-bites. If you want to get a somewhat richer idea than this can convey, then of course reading the basic icon items on my blogsite — especially the “About,” page, but also the pages on Art, Bio, etc, — will give you a much clearer notion, I should think, of what I’m about and what I desire in a life-partner. I’ve also written about this in several blogposts, but those are harder to find. They are scattered around in and among various (uncatalogued) posts.
Meanwhile, & roughly, as to what I look for in a woman who I may wish to date with a hope of our mutually discovering in each other and in ourselves that we are both suitable partners for an ideal shared life together (which, as you know, is mostly the only reason I care to date anyone more than once or twice or thrice):
I think the first important thing I value and would hope and need to discover in a potential partner is perhaps best pegged as “character” — humaneness, “mensch-iness”; after that I would say contemplative, spiritual, mystical inclination, exploration, and unfolding development; and third I would say comes intelligence and intellectuality. For if a person both has menschy good character and also is contemplative/spiritual, chances are she is also both intelligent & intellectual.
Whereas, if she is intelligent/intellectual and is NOT also menschy and contemplative by now (by the time she is old enough–at whatever age!–to enter an ultimate, all-inclusive adult relationship/life partnership), then….it’s unlikely she is going to suddenly become sufficiently spiritual and good-natured enough to be mutually compatible with me. It’s possible, but less likely.
And if by chance she is both menschy & contemplative, but somehow NOT particularly intellectual/intelligent, well, we may still be suitable enough for one another. We’d have to see. But as I mentioned to you earlier, I tend to find acute intelligence and compassionate intellectuality extremely important, and very attractive. Humane brainiacs turn me on!
Intelligence & intellectuality
Intelligence, however, comes in many forms, and what typically passes for intellectuality is often very overrated in many circles. Some of the stupidest persons I have ever met have one or more doctorates.
With regard to my own “criteria” for (“casual”, preliminary/exploratory) dating: On the one hand, if a person can write a lucid sentence on a good day and has read a good book in recent years (& not just a conventional novel), then I’m willing to talk….
On the other hand, in looking toward a potential meaningful relationship: as you know, my professional life as a university teacher of diverse courses in the interdisciplinary humanities, specifically in various areas of world literature, world history & culture, and comparative world religions, is not just a day-job. My own personal, private interests as a private scholar, reader, writer, thinker, etc, are also somewhat concerned with the nature and history of human intellectual activity and heritage—the world of profound humanistic, humane thought, its sources, development, and application in creating for our world community a kinder, healthier, more compassionate opportunity for conscious evolution, enjoyment, and fulfillment.
So, my strong preference is to be partnered with someone with whom I not only deeply share some such overlapping interests (in whatever forms), but can also eventually share conversing meaningfully about such things at least some of the time on an ongoing basis…
Next, and last of the important things, I would say is creative/artistic/aesthetic appreciation/interest &/or ability. I would very much prefer to be partnered with a fellow practicing artist of whatever genre/medium (painting, music, acting, writing, dance, etc), but compared to the other things, it’s not necessary.
I think virtually everyone is creative/artistic at heart, and can be taught/cultured to let their inner artist out if it’s hiding. Whereas, it’s maybe not always quite so easy to spark the unfolding of steady compassion or extensive acute intelligence in adults who have not yet stabilized such traits. However, somewhat like art-making, contemplative spiritual practice can also easily be learned (with the guidance of a well-trained teacher). And therein lies great hope.
contemplative / spiritual
I believe that everyone is also inherently spiritual in the most important sense. And from applied spiritual practice and experience, qualities such as compassion and kindness and mental clarity and expansiveness naturally and spontaneously unfold and overflow. But again, if someone has gotten this far without being interested in such things already, it is perhaps less likely that she and I will be well suited to each other — at least right away. It’s possible we will be, just not as easily discernible unless and until we meet and hang out a bit first.
As my own life-long commitment to daily contemplative spiritual practice has always been and will always be the center of my lifestyle, I’m not at all suitable for someone who is not (potentially) open to such things. She has to be at least appreciative and respectful of my own commitment to life-long daily practice of meditative spiritual engagement. Beyond that, it would be extremely wonderful, although perhaps not necessary (?), if she shared with me a deep interest in, and orientation toward a compatible contemplative spiritual lifestyle/worldview/set of values/engagement.
This might take various diverse forms, — my ideal partner doesn’t have to be just like me! — However, I certainly just couldn’t live happily with a conventional “worldling” or “surface operator” who wasn’t open to the deeper, richer expanses of the interior life.
progressive eco-social concern
I almost forgot progressive political outlook — in terms of humane social, environmental, and economic peace & justice concerns. This doesn’t have to mean a woman is a partisan, or someone who is presently intensely engaged in direct action protest, or reform efforts. But obviously, I could not abide spending time with someone who is rightwing or indifferent to the suffering, inequality, injustice, violence, etc. that repressive, reactionary, retrogressive political systems impose on people (and the environment). I couldn’t abide spending time with someone who is bigoted or deeply prejudiced or strongly biased (toward the conservative, negative, narrow-minded or hateful side of things, etc) with regard to race, ethnicity, language, religion, culture, the environment, class, gender & sexuality, etc. I’m a radical progressive socially, politically, economically, environmentally, out of my own deepest moral/ethical concern for the well-being of all humans and all fellow creatures. For me this is not about conventional party politics or abstract ideology, it’s about the most crucial moral/ethical values and concerns possible. I just don’t think I could sustain a state of being happily and unconditionally romantically in love with, and domestically partnered with, someone who lacked at least a passionate aspiration toward experiencing and applying universal loving-kindness, empathetic compassion, good-will, fellow-feeling, and creative self-identification with all other suffering creatures, human and non-human, that is, with anyone who was indifferent to such values, or who was convinced that reactionary ideology and policy was preferable or justifiable.
And I hesitate to mention bohemian (vs straight, bourgeois, square, lame, conventional). There are so many kinds of genuine bohemian-ness that are far, far from me (for instance, the heavy-drinking, -smoking, -doping, angry, sullen sort); and also many kinds of ersatz bohemian-ness that are ridiculous (for instance recent/current trustafarian hipster-ism, serious Portlandia-goofiness, etc).
But obviously if a woman is fairly conventional inside as well as outside on this sort of sliding scale, we wouldn’t be likely to get very far. Her boho soul doesn’t necessarily have to show in how she dresses or decorates her den. Superficially, these kinds of “opposites can attract” up to a point, but in my book, real bohemian-ness is not just a superficial matter of faddish fashion or what is glibly called “style”—it is a basic orientation to many, many things regarding deep personal values, social/aesthetic/ethical values, and life-way orientation.
Quirky and eclectic and individualistic and original and arty and world-beat and offbeat and easygoing yet passionate and romantic and a bit of a gypsy at heart and with the soul of a dancer in most things most of the time is way ahead of conventional straight-edged conventional straightlaced proper and conservative—cookie-cutter, corporate bored-room style, 50s PTA middle America Norman Rockwell soccermom, countryclub Girls for Goldwater style, young Republicans, Talbot’s style, etc. But again, on the surface-only, this doesn’t matter so very much in terms of what is likely to be compatible with me. I could sport a boxy bourgeois suit & tie from time to time, just for fun, if I cared to, but I couldn’t abide living in a bourgeois world or household.
So: . . .
character – compassion/empathy/universal friendliness/kindness/selflessness; loyalty, dedication, passion, inner calmness/clarity, joyous, open, adventurous, courageous
contemplative, spiritual – interested in spiritual experience, understanding, practice, self-realization, self-liberation, self-actualization, enlightenment
intelligent, intellectual, scholarly, thoughtful; clear, comprehensive mentality, mental acuity, having a central personal interest in the life of the mind
creative, artistic, aesthetic appreciation, love of beauty in nature and the arts
politically progressive — social, ecological, economic, sexual progress, etc
bohemian, open, unconventional, non-bourgeois, arty, original, eclectic, countercultural
some exemplary women in the public arena
Below is a short list of some of the (contemporary, living) women “celebrities” whom I greatly admire in one way or another. SEVERAL of them are also rather attractive to me in terms of personally-appealing good looks &/or sexiness. But there are a ga-zillion great looking women everywhere in the world; these particular individuals are public figures whose engagements in life (activism, the arts, etc), have somewhat captured my interest and appreciation, aside from their looks.
So, looks aside (mostly), this list gives a fairly good sample of some of the kinds of things I like in women, qualities & values & interests I would enjoy discovering in a woman who would care to join with me in a romantic relationship as mutual equal life-partners. There should be more poets and painters and scholar-professors on this list of public women I admire! more photographers, some anthropologist/ archaeologists & adventurers, some public health natural medicine holistic doctor-dancers! much else.
If I were to try to compose a list only on the basis of publicly-known women whose looks I find most attractive, the names on the list would probably include several more actresses and models, naturally. Certainly also some more singer-songwriters! Dancer-scholars! Surfer-poet-activists and rockclimber-painter-activists! But I see women moving about anonymously in public almost every week & sometimes almost every day who I think are visually “equal” to, or even much more beautiful than virtually any/all the celebrity actresses, models, athletes, etc, whom we all typically see in the media. Looks are important, but not just by themselves, and besides I have fairly eclectic tastes that way in any case.
Amal Alamuddin (b.1978) 38 – human rights lawyer
Erin Currier (b.1975) 41 – social justice artist
Caroline Gleich (b 1986) 30 – outdoor athlete, environmental activist & artist
Eleanor Goldfield c29 – activist musician poet model
Amy Goodman (b.1957) 59 – activist journalist writer
Julia Butterfly Hill (b. 1974) 42 – activist writer model
Naomi Klein (b. 1970) 46 – activist writer journalist
Isabel Lucas (b. 1985) 31 – actress activist
Abby Martin (b. 1984) 31 – activist artist journalist
Dora McQuaid – c33 – poet activist professor
Aliyah O’Brien (b. 1981) 36 — actress, director, activist
Laura Poitras (b. 1964) 52 – filmmaker journalist activist
Jesselyn Radach (b. 1970) 45 – human rights lawyer
Jen Robinson 35 – human rights lawyer
Arundhati Roy (1961) 54 – novelist activist
Elif Şafak (b.1971) 44 – novelist professor
Naomi Wolfe (b.1962) 53 -writer journalist activist
much more info than you wanted to know!
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