When I’m working with a client who is looking for a relationship, I often ask them to write down what they want in a partner, and what is not tolerable to them. Frequently, they say to me something like, “Is it okay for me not to want to be with someone who doesn’t take care of themselves physically?” or “Is it okay for me not to want to be with someone who doesn’t earn as much as I do?”
What I tell them is this: “You have a right to want what you want and to define for yourself what is completely intolerable to you. You need to validate for yourself what you want and what is not tolerable to you.”
How did we ever come to the conclusion that it’s not okay for something about someone to be intolerable to us in a primary relationship?
The clue to this lies in what I hear next: “Aren’t I then being a judgmental person? I don’t want to be a judgmental person.”
There is a big difference between being judgmental and not liking something in a person. We would be being judgmental if we said, “People who don’t take care of themselves physically are bad people.” Being judgmental has to do with judging someone as good or bad. You might say, “It is not acceptable to me to be with someone who smokes cigarettes,” which is very different than saying “People who smoke cigarettes are bad people.”
For some people, the fear of being judgmental stops them from tuning into what they like and don’t like. And being tolerant is a trait most of us value. However, it’s one thing to accept or tolerate these things in people in general, but quite another thing to choose to be in a committed relationship with someone who has traits that are intolerable to you. The main reason people do this is the hope that these traits will change, which they rarely do. If you are looking for a committed relationship, you have a much better chance of creating a loving relationship if you are very clear on what you want and what is not tolerable to you
Take a moment right now to think about what is not tolerable to you. Here is a partial list of what some of my clients have come up with. There is no right or wrong regarding what you want and what is not tolerable to you, so tune in to what you want and what you absolutely can’t live with. Sometimes, a person has many traits that we value and appreciate, and a few that we don’t like, but we can live with them.
Read more: Margaret Paul Ph.D, Huffington Post