An old friend of mine dated a *fuckboy in high school. Hey, we were all a little lost in high school. He was slightly older than her; an entertainer; had enough charisma to give a little away and; he had a roving eye. She loved him immensely and forgave him often. They had weekend escapes and nights out on the town. He was exciting. But when she fell pregnant, he had a sense of urgency to terminate. He wasn't ready to be a father. He wasn't ready to be chained. As weeks went by and rumours began to spread, they both denied the pregnancy vehemently. In the end she chose to have the child and unsurprisingly, without him. Life carried him away and he was nowhere to be found as both a partner and a father.
I cringe when friends share with me how different their partner's values are to their own. It's dangerous.
Years ago I watched a talk show discussing abusive men. A psychiatrist on the panel said it saddened her to see so many women saying they had not left these men because they were afraid for their children's futures. "You know, choosing a life partner is one of the most important decisions women make. Those men will father your children. We need to be a little careful," she said. As a women in my early twenties, carefree and making the worst relationship mistakes, I had never thought of the gravity of choosing whom to love. As a matter of fact, I had never believed it to be a choice. This realization hit me hard. At the time I was in a dwindling relationship with a boy I had never imagined not mine. It had become a disabling love yet still I begged and pleaded unapologetically for us to fix things. But looking back, he could not have met me where I am today with all I am now. The woman I am today would not have given him the time of day. That pick-up line I told all my friends about seems so awful now. This is not because he isn't a great man, he is just not the type of man with whom I can afford to spend sixty years of my life.
Of course not all women want to have children or care much about having the support of a life partner, but for those who do; choosing your life partner can influence generations in your bloodline. Can you understand the magnitude of that? This is a person with whom you will co-parent; eat; fight; travel; cry; and; do pretty much all of life. I identified at age 23 that I had a desire for marriage and children and as I entered my mid-twenties, I reevaluated the type of family I wanted to have. Gone were the days of fluffy dreams. Romance is integral, but it cannot be our only guide. Knowing myself a lot more means I can evaluate a possible life partner at the early stages and save myself years of heartache. These are some of the questions that keep me from choosing the wrong man.
Are his values in line with yours?
You have to like the person who could potentially parent your child. You need to know their core values and whether they are in line with yours. I value equality, honesty; integrity; kindness and; responsibility. So when I engage a man, I am always looking out for red flags that go against these principles. A man who, for example, believes a woman should mother him is not someone I would consider for my future. The generation of children I want to raise must believe that they have equal rights to joy, pleasure, opportunities and success; and they should seek to create a space that encourages that. Agreeing on core values acts as a guide to behaviours at home. In addition, because relationships do not always work out, you need to be comfortable with your children spending time in your partner's presence without his undoing of the staple teachings.
It's unnecessarily judgmental perhaps, but I cringe when friends share with me how different their partner's values are to their own. It's dangerous.
Are they supportive?
Growing up, my mom went the extra mile when it came to my school commitments. She attended swimming galas I hardly swam in and sat in the audience for every Dance and Drama performance. Her support cannot be quantified. I often wished to see my dad rise up to meet her, to support her at these events. I understand the circumstances behind his absence but I know how much children value having both parents equally present. It fosters a sense of pride and belonging. A supportive partner is irreplaceable: someone who believes in and encourages your aspirations is more likely to encourage your children's and to create for them an environment of success.
How do they get angry?
Our environments affect our emotional response and emotional responses tell a lot about what we have been through or overcome. A child who has grown up in a physically and emotionally abusive home is more likely to internalize that and return, later in life, to that familiar emotional response he had growing up. I can be so harsh with my words when I'm angry or disappointed. My partner made me aware of this trait and since then I have acknowledged this and made a conscious effort to investigate its premise and to alter that behavior with healthier ones. By the time I start my family I know I will have made a significant dent in this response and healed the pain from which it comes. In an open and honest relationship, you should identify how your partner argues. If you find they belittle you or possibly become violent towards you or their surroundings during arguments, they are likely to behave in this fashion in-front of and towards your children. If they instill fear in you or aim to break you, that is the beginning of a cycle that will envelop your children.
What happens if they never change?
We all develop with time whether positively or negatively, but what if your partner stayed exactly who they are now? What would happen if they did not mature past this stage, if this was the final product? I love this question because it always gives me a fresh perspective of exactly who I'm dealing with. It allows me to see aspects of a person I may have played down which may in fact irritate or amaze me. Partners need to be enough for each other. And I always return to this question in my mind, "Will I be okay with this? Is it acceptable?" And some things are just not.
*A fuckboy (n) is an immature man who oppresses women sexually, mentally and emotionally.