What I want in a partner:
  • Respects me
  • Respect for others
  • A service ethic
  • Shares some of my interests
  • Has interests of their own
  • Humble, for real
  • Respects and supports their family
  • Responsible with money
  • Well employed or otherwise self-supporting (7th tradition)
  • Encourages me to be self-supporting
  • Can be silly, but not the default state
  • Can be very serious
  • Has goals and plans of their own
  • Expresses self in work or hobbies
  • Has their own sense of self worth
  • At least as mature as I am
  • Independent
  • Dependable 
  • Caring, thoughtful
  • A good neighbor
  • A good friend
  • Accepting of me
  • Accepting of my sexuality
  • Accepting of my orientation
  • Willing to dance, can enjoy it
  • Sexual compatibility
  • Political compatibility
  • Similar values
  • Healthy attitudes about sex
  • Is happy
  • Generous
  • Fair-minded
  • Has or is willing to have a dog
  • Respects whether I’m ready to live together or not
What I don’t want:
  • Racist
  • Sexist
  • Politically extreme
  • Prone to rage
  • Controlling, dominating
  • Codependent
  • Criticizing, disparaging, judgmental, blaming
  • Conformist
  • Buys into toxic masculinity or the patriarchy
  • Buys into toxic femininity
  • Expects all my unstructured time to belong to them
  • Greedy
  • Advantage-seeking
  • Conservative
  • Assumes I’m wrong about everything I say
  • Hoarding
  • An alcoholic or addict
  • Insists that we have to live together

One of the mistakes I made early in the last relationship was to contribute financially well over the level of being self-supporting. When I got laid off, I couldn’t do that anymore. While I was training for a new career, I contributed right at the level of being self-supporting through my severance pay, and later, through acquiring credit card debt. But it was so much less money than they were used to.

My spouse deeply resented the reduced level of contribution and saw it as changing their life without their permission, because I chose to train for a new career instead of starting over in my old one (which is what happens when you get laid off – in my industry, nobody hires at higher levels from outside the company – you start at entry level again). It didn’t matter that a new job would still not pay enough. 

Also the layoff happened just after I had borrowed a lot from my 401k for a project, so I was trying to pay back the loan so as not to incur a heavy tax penalty. My spouse blamed my project for changing their life as well, even though commitment to carry out that project was made plain before we ever married.

Sorry I’m not explaining it well without anonymity-breaking specifics.

Another mistake I made was justifying making my career decisions unilaterally as long as I was meeting my 7th tradition. Right or wrong, my spouse felt left out. It would have been more respectful to fully discuss these things beforehand.

In any case, my business in my new career didn’t take off soon enough to prevent me maxing out the credit cards, so it became necessary to fall back on the old career and, yes, start at entry level, which is where I still am now. It’s taken a few years to pay off all that debt, plus defaulting on the 401k and assisting them with their tax burden.

In my next relationship (if any), I want money to not be a factor.

I haven’t been posting in a long time. It became a lot less convenient after Google took over Blogger and made a lot of changes. To preserve anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV, films, and the Internet, I had to put my Al-Anon account on a separate Google ID than the rest of my life. So that meant doing a lot of login shuffle. And I … just didn’t.

So it’s been a few years. I’m not married anymore. My spouse changed my life without my consent, and I wasn’t willing to go further. I learned a lot about my program and ways to apply it during our marriage, and it was a growing experience. I remain sure my HP wanted me to have that experience, and I’m glad I did.

I am happily single again. My first sponsor would have told me right after the divorce that it was the right time to make a new list of what I want in a partner. I did give it a half-hearted attempt, but I just didn’t bring myself to do it. There are a few drafts in my various notebooks. Also I have started lists of what I don’t want in a partner.

Looking over my old list, I see that my former spouse did not meet some of these criteria, but I didn’t know it at the time. They did engage in criticism (I would say even derision and scorn.). They were not mature. They were indeed controlling and not dependable. How would I not get fooled again?

In any case, I am not looking for a partner. I am happily living on my own, in my own space, with my own pets. I have a good job. I have goals and plans. My program is not as strong as it was, probably because I’m not leaning on it as heavily. That’s something to work on. I would like to have great program regardless the circumstances.

I am working the 12 steps again and am now at Step 6. I have been for quite a long time. Maybe I’ll be “entirely ready” soon?

It’s frequently said that the active disease of alcoholism is baffling and cunning. The family disease is baffling and cunning, too, and putting together people who are recovering from each sometimes means life is really, really confusing. It’s easy to despair sometimes.

I went on retreat for 24 hours to do some prayer and meditation and some work on the Traditions. I came back on a high, feeling good about having figured out what it was that was disrupting our marriage. I was sure it had to do with shame, which is a hot trigger for both of us, and how feelings of shame, fear of shame, filters about shame, perceptions about others trying to inflict shame, and self-inflicted shame could be eroding our trust in each other. I sat down with my spouse to talk about this and am not quite sure we were both having the same conversation.

This is happening rather a lot. I think each of us has filters that are a lot thicker than either of us thought they were. Whenever I finally find out what my spouse heard, it doesn’t usually bear any resemblance to the thought I was trying to express.

My spouse’s mood is better, so I hope that means that some progress is occurring. We’re due to inventory our relationship this week, and I hope that means some progress is occurring too.

I lamented recently that I’ve never had a healthy romantic relationship. I said, “I just don’t have a good recipe for relationships, one that works.”

I was answered with, “Of course you do. You’ve got the Traditions.”

Holy moly! I had even done a workshop about applying the Traditions in our personal relationships, although I think at the time I took it as a lesson in working these spiritual principles into relationships that exist already. There’s no reason they can’t be used in blossoming relationships as well.

So lately although I’m plodding right along in my 8th Step work, I’m also studying again some material from the workshop. It’s not conference approved, so I’m not posting a link, but if you feel interested in searching for experience, strength, and hope on using the Traditions in personal relationships, use that exact phrase in your search and you will find some of the same material.

I’ve never been at this stage with a prospective partner within a spiritual framework. What I mean by that is that I’ve frequently been in that delicious state just beyond friendship where two parties are deciding just how close to get, but I’ve never been there with someone along with a Higher Power.

Admittedly, a little weird. I don’t recall ever praying with someone other than my sponsor, not counting group functions – I mean intimate and personal. While it feels weird, it also feels warm and secure. Usually I pretty much barrel ahead with whatever I want and just hope God lets me have it. Now we’re moving a whole lot slower and praying a lot more and listening for guidance. If we’re doing what God wants for us, we can’t really go that wrong, can we?

It’s really intimate, praying with someone. It’s vulnerable and scary. My relationship with God is quite intimate, even though I don’t communicate nearly often enough. To draw another human being into that gives me the jibblies, but I feel good about it too. Especially due to the level of respect and support the other person is showing me.

About the function I was going to attend in the summer – I RSVPd “no”. I’m also considering a lot of things I hadn’t been willing to consider before. Let’s see what God has to say about them.

New step in my journey.  I hoped this was in store for me, but didn’t try to make it happen, trusted my HP to let me know if and when, and made sure to leave room for opportunity.

Here I am spending time with someone with whom I want emotional and physical intimacy, and they seem to want the same with me We’ve shared a bit already. We’ve reached a point of decision and are working through it.

It’s scary.

It’s someone with experience working the steps and using the traditions in interpersonal relationships. They know how to do what I want to do: they know how to build a trusting, loving relationship using the tools of the program.

I have heard from them and from others how the last relationship went. It only ended when death took their partner. It was a really good relationship, and it was good because they both worked together to make it so. They weren’t perfect; they learned together how to work with their HP and the steps and traditions, and their mistakes make for good stories as well as life lessons. I wish I could have known them then, as a couple.

So here we are, the remaining mate and me. Time has passed for them and for me. All my recipes for relationships have turned out some bitter cakes; I know they don’t work. Some came closer to working than others, and there are definitely life lessons from them that I can use, but I’ve never had a completely healthy romantic relationship. I’ve never done a relationship in-program.

To get what I want to have, I don’t do what I want to do.

Sometimes my short-term desires have gotten in the way of my long-term dreams, especially when those dreams include a stable and loving relationship. One of the recurring themes of my love life has been that of the extramarital affair – usually my partner was the married party, though not always. I have to confess, that though I never started out with the intention of winding up in bed with them, I never slipped and fell on anyone’s genitalia.

There were a series of events, a series of choices, that led up to every indiscretion.

I’m not married now, and neither is the other party, so that’s a relief, But there are other types of unavailability. If it turns out that the other person’s boundaries preclude going any further, I have to respect that, and I have to make choices that support continued respect for that. I have to make choices that don’t give my sex instinct the chance to run amok.

I also have to communicate to the other party that my sex instinct isn’t the only one in the room. 🙂 Too often I’ve been maneuvered into the role of the party who’s supposed to put the brakes on if we’re approaching some boundary we must not breach. I’ve utterly failed at that role. I won’t accept that role again. It doesn’t do much good to want to respect someone’s boundary if they are not respecting it.

And then, in the process of figuring out where we are and what we want, I have to consider the choices I’ll need to make to preserve and support the relationship. I’ll need to consider the feelings and needs of the other person, what levels of exclusivity is called for, what levels of communication.

I have a social engagement coming up in the early summer that could impose a risk to any new relationship. I’d be visiting someone I have strong ties with, and it could become easy to compromise the new-found trust developing here and now. I’ve missed that person dreadfully the past few years and have wanted to visit them again and share things again that we shared before with a great deal of delight and joy. The opportunity is coming. I’ll have the time and the resources and a grand occasion to celebrate. But it could cause problems for what’s developing right now.

Am I futurizing? Possibly. Possibly not. While trying to predict the future is foolishly impossible, trying to plan for it is to some degree inevitable. Airfare has to be purchased, for instance; it’s something I’d have to travel for.

Today is where I live. Just for today. Just for today I live in this place that my HP saw fit to bring me. Just for today I have the time and attention of a good human being who cares about me. Just for today I want to give this person whatever I can because I care about them. Just for today I can make choices that make me feel right with my HP, with humanity, with myself. With my partner, if I get the blessing of having one.

  • If having a list takes some of the magic out of a romance that’s okay. Sometimes magic comes at a price I’m unwilling to pay.

My first sponsor suggested I make a list of what I want in a partner. It looks like a partnership may form soon, and I’m making lists now out of what I want in this situation, what private things I want to be careful not to let become secret, these sorts of things. That first sponsor taught me that making lists organizes thoughts, and sometimes patterns or ideas emerge as a result, and my experience has backed this up. At the very least the clarity helps.

Once it became obvious the last relationship was over, and we were pretty much waiting for the paperwork, my sponsor said it would be the prime time to decide what I want in my next partner. I thought my sponsor was nuts, but after some explaining it did make sense. I could scope this out now while no one is on the horizon, so there’s no danger of making the criteria fit the candidate.

My sponsor encouraged me to spell out even the silly inducements, and to decide what kinds of obsessions in the other person I could handle. I was to think also about health and recovery. That led to some expository paragraphs in addition to the simple list.

I wrote these in my paper journal, in cursive, some time ago. But that’s not a handy location.
  • Respects me
  • Shares some of my interests
  • Respects and supports their family
  • Well employed
  • Can be silly, but not the default state
  • Can be very serious
  • Has goals and plans of their own
  • Expresses self in work or hobbies
  • At least as mature as I am
  • Dependable without being codependent
  • Caring without being a doormat
  • A good neighbor
  • A good friend
  • Accepting of me
  • Accepting of my sexuality
  • Accepting of my orientation
  • Non-controlling
  • Willing to dance, can enjoy it
  • Sexual compatibility
  • For whom sex is fun, pleasurable, feels good
  • Compatible sexual orientation
  • Has a dog!!!
  • Is happy
  • Not racist
  • Not politically extreme
  • Not prone to rage
I am still pondering on whether I could handle a relationship with a non-geek. I also have not decided if being a 12-stepper is requisite. Also pondering what kind of health issues I could handle.
Am not for compulsions in general, but could probably handle eating, fitness, or TV compulsions. Absolutely cannot handled criticism, drinking, drugs, gambling, or shopping compulsions.