Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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75 Reasons to love Keith—or not

Introduction

Reading an online diary, I found the author’s “75 Reasons I Love Keith [her boyfriend]”. (I prefer not to go into the identy of the author; however, I will email an URL upon request.) A casual inspection showed these to be mostly self-centered, perfectly in line with my opinion that humans tend to love (more generally, “like”; this is not limited to romance) those people who bring them benefit, rather than those who deserve to be loved for “inner beauty” or other qualities of relevance. I proceeded to comment these reasons (see below).

A few caveats and general comments:

  1. The list did probably not originate as a semi-scientific exploration of cause; but as a declaration of love, a wish to bragg, or similar.

  2. I do not claim that I, myself, go about these things in an altruistic and noble maner. This is an investigation of how and why humans, as a species, love—not an attempt to point fingers at a particular individual or, for that matter, sex.

  3. My interpretations below are necessarily subjective and, partially, speculative: I only know the author from her diary, and I cannot read minds. By and large they should be reasonably correct for a reasonably typical woman, but it is possible that some of the potential hidden motives I mention do not apply to this particular woman. Any absolute statements about the individuals should be seen as short-hand for a longer statement with disclaimers to this effect.

  4. Many of the below entries fall into the category “This could be a sign of something very positive in Keith, but I suspect that it is appreciated for a shallow or egoistical reason.” (or similar). These are often just marked with “+-” without further elaboration. Beware that there are many borderline cases in either direction, and that the degree of both the “+” and the “-” can vary considerably.

  5. I have not tried to say everything about every entry: This would become repetitive very fast, and result in a lot of redundant typing. A statement along the lines of “This could be a sign of egoism, has a strong subjective component, will vary depending on circumstance, ...” can be added to most entries; however, I have tried to limit myself to the most typical and early cases.

  6. Some of the entries should be seen in light of the couple being strongly Republican.


    Side-note:

    To minimize potential distortions due to subjectiveness from my side, the reader should bear in mind that my own political leanings are more in a Republican than Democrat direction; however, without the strong Christian and “morally conservative” aspects. (Additionally, any mapping of political positions onto a foreign country, which the US is from my POV, will necessarily be approximative. Consider e.g. that the Democrats would likely be considered to be in the conservative block in the Swedish or German multi-party systems.)


The commented reasons

  1. He is the most sensible person I know

    This is in and by itself an admirable thing. It should, however, be born in mind that “sensible” underlies a lot of subjectivity, and that for many it equals “has the same opinions as I do”.

  2. He really listens when I talk

    This is clearly centered on her benefit. Notably, women almost universally like men who show an interest in what they have to say.

    However, it can well be argued that this implies a deficit: Most things women say are simply not worth listening to, doing so is largely a waste of time, and often even an annoyance. Exceptions are few, and I do not have the impression that this woman is one—on the contrary, her diary is unusually free from deeper content. We then have to ask, why Keith listens: Low intellectual horizons? A deliberate attempt to get on her good side? Patience out of love? Having had the great luck to find a woman worth listening to? For a deeper discussion, we would need to know the reason, seeing that the overall impression will vary depending on it. (However, they all make negative or neutral statements about Keith, not positive ones.)

  3. When I finish scrapbook pages he always looks through them

    This is very similar to the above, with the exception that the quantity of pages is likely much smaller than the quantity of talk, which increases the validity both of a legitimate interest and a faked one.

  4. He is very clean (he washes his hands before he takes a shower)

    Hygien is important and usually a positive sign (cases of e.g. OCD excepted). However, her love is likely connected with the benefit this brings her, e.g. less smell, or sex without disgusting distractions.

  5. He loves our dogs as much as I do

    Love of pets is often a good sign. The interpretation of “as much as I do” is crucial, however: Is the focus on an egoistical convenience, a liking through similarity, or rather just an emphasis on the size of the love (her love being presumed to be large)?

  6. He can and does fix things when they break

    Again a clear egoistical motivation—and a stereotypical one that can be quite annoying in a woman.

  7. He’s mentally, emotionally and financially stable - Very stable

    The two first are good—very good. To love someone because he is financially stable is a different story—very different.

  8. He shares the cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry and yard responsiblity with me and I don’t have to ask - he doesn’t act like he’s helping me out when he does either - he thinks it’s as much his resposibility as mine

    This, again, has a clear egoistical motivation. Whether it is also a good inner trait cannot be judged without more information on the proportions of work inside and outside of the household, and other circumstances. I note, however, that many women have a very warped image of household work, what constitutes fairness, etc. (They both appear to have a job at this particular time, however.)

  9. He takes care of paying the bills for the household and only asks for 150.00 a month. (wow! that is even more amazing when typed)

    This is telling: He is both the bill payer and does a considerable part of the house work. It sounds like he has landed in a situation to her one-sided benefit, which does not leave a good impression of his inner qualities—while being a clear indication of egoism on her behalf.

  10. He and I are on the same schedule - We wake within 30 minutes of eachother, Work the same hours,and get into bed within 30 minutes of eachother.

    A pure convenience for her (and, likely, him)—not a reason to love someone.

  11. He has not yelled at me even once in since I met him in June of 1998 [list published 2004-02-07].

    Whether this is a positive sign cannot be judged without more information: He could be mature and self-controlled—or he could be a coward, who lets himself be over-advantaged. Her reasons are almost certainly egoistic, not based in what his lack of yelling says about his inner workings.

  12. If we were to have children together and I were to die I know my kids would be safe, cared for and raised properly by him.

    Again something noble; again something which may be appreciated for the wrong reason. (Note, in particular, the use of “my kids” where “our kids” would be appropriate.)

  13. If I get upset he soothes me

    +-

  14. He’s never said no when I’ve wanted to have sex

    +-

  15. When I’ve cried over something stupid like my car breaking he’s reminded me it’s nothing to cry about and helped through the process of getting it fixed.

    +-

  16. He has a great singing voice (people love to hear him sing karaoke, I love to hear him sing in the shower)

    Egoistical; possibly with a “good genes” component.

  17. He is incredibly funny

    Hard to judge without more information, but I note a strong egoistic component (roughly, “He makes me laugh.”) and a problem of subjectiveness in that different people tend to find different things funny (often with a strong correlation with intellectual level). Further, attempts to be funny are often founded in inner insecurity, a wish for love or attention, or similar; and are then signs of an underlying problem.

  18. There is never a dull moment with him. He’s constantly entertaining.

    Ditto.

  19. He’s very informed on political issues and votes

    Largely positive, but again with a strong subjective component: “informed” often means “agrees with me”, with an associated egoistical component.

  20. His family is terrific and it’s easy to see why he turned out as well as he did

    Love someone because of his family? Really?

  21. He is especially respectful of his parents

    May or may not be good, depending on circumstance.

  22. He doesn’t waste anything

    Ditto.

  23. His work ethic is better than anyone else I’ve ever met

    Probably positive, but with some reservations for circumstance, cause, and subjectivity.

  24. When life gets rocky it doesn’t shake him - it amazes me how he handles things

    Probably a pure positive.

  25. He hugs me before we leave eachother in the mornings for work or other times

    Egoistical.

  26. He has a high IQ

    One of the greatest single positives there is.

  27. He reminds me of my dad (the two of them really seem to hit it off)

    While a very common reason for love or attraction from women, it is not actually a good reason. (In fact, I have heard claims that such attraction is often based in a disturbed relationship to the father, but have never investigated this issue further.)

  28. He wears his hair really short and doesn’t grow beards or mustaches

    Egoistical. Further, as a matter of principle, I have to distance myself from any implication that absense of facial hair in a man would be laudable—if it is good enough for Gandalf and Obi-Wan, it should be good enough for anyone.

  29. He gives me excellent advice

    +-

  30. He’s strong

    Impossible to judge without detail (even whether physical or mental strength is intended is unclear).

  31. He’s not addicted to anything (except talk radio possibly.... which I don’t consider a negative)

    I do... Otherwise positive.

  32. He’s never given me a reason to think he’ll ever leave me.

    Likely a positive with a strong egoistical component. However: Is her impression correct? Does he stick with her because she is lovable, or because he needs someone? Etc.

  33. His heros are Ronald Reagan and John Wayne and I think that’s very respectable

    Much to subjective for me to judge without further information. (In particular, Reagan as a whole, as a politician, or as an actor?)

  34. He eats healthy, drinks a lot of water and exercises but isn’t obsesive about any of it

    Positive. (But note that the health effects of drinking a lot of water are disputed.)

  35. He’s a good driver and has never had an accident

    Positive.

  36. When I buy new things he looks through my packages with me

    Likely egoistic.

  37. If I want to cuddle he does

    Ditto.

  38. He gives me back rubs

    Ditto.

  39. He has great friends that I get along with and I always feel welcome when he spends time with them

    Loving someone because of his friends is entirely off the mark (except to the degree that they say something about his character).

  40. I like the way he dresses

    Impossible to judge; but with strong likelihood of egoism, definitely something subjective, and possibly a sign of shallowness in Keith.

  41. He has good taste in music (It’s a little ironic that as I’m typing that he’s watching the Lawrence Welk Show though) I find it very endearing that he likes to watch the Lawrence Welk Show (he use to watch it when he visited his grandparents)

    Ditto.

  42. He respects me

    Positive, but with reservations for egoism, circumstances, and worthiness.

  43. When we’ve traveled together he’s been a great travel partner.

    Egoism.

  44. He’s provided us with a very nice, comfortable home

    Egoism.

  45. He thinks I have a nice butt

    Egoism, in so far as women seem to benefit from being considered attractive. In addition, it has strong elements of the human tendency to like whoever likes us.

  46. He probably spends at least an hour a day just giving our dogs attention

    +-

  47. When I ask him if I should change my hairstyle he says he likes it just the way I’ve always had it

    As two items above.

  48. The first time I gave him a blow job he said it was the best he ever had

    Ditto. Besides pretty much any blow job is good, and a little flattery, with the hidden agenda of getting more in the future, is not rare...

  49. He lives a drama free life - that’s just the way I like it

    +- (With extra kudos to the author for liking it drama free—far to many women are the other way around.)

  50. He once told me that my boob are a nice size

    As with the butt. (But a one-time statement to this effect is not much as flattery goes...)

  51. When I diet he diets - he’s very supportive

    Being supportive is good; but this kind of support is probably largely a negative sign (reservations for the circumstances).

  52. His schedule is very consistent but if something comes up he calls

    The first half is too incidental; the second likely positive.

  53. We hug several times a day, kiss often and have sex regularly

    Egoistical; if also a sign of a healthy relationship.

  54. He reminds me that we should do things I like to do sometimes (like the ballet)

    Ditto.

  55. He includes me in the things he likes to do

    Ditto.

  56. We work well together on household projects and he makes it fun

    Likely positive. (But “he” makes it fun—what about “you”?)

  57. He’s very patriotic and loves his country

    Probably mostly a similarity of opinion. There are further strong arguments to consider patriotism and nationalism to be largely negative things—not to mention arbitrary.

  58. Treating people correctly is natural for him

    Probably positive.

  59. He has a high credit score

    +-

  60. He’s conservative

    Similarity of opinion.

  61. We’ve never really fought. About a handful of times in the last 5 years and 8 months we’ve been hanging out together we’ve had to have heart to hearts and work through some things. Neither of us has ever left mad when discussing things and we’ve never not slept together because we’ve been mad.

    Likely positive; some reservations for the unknown reason for the lack of fights (e.g. have fights that should have taken place to clear the air been artificially surpressed).

  62. He’s pationate about his right to bear arms and I respect his reasons behind it

    Probably similarity of opinion.

  63. He remembers way, way more than the average person (if we have kids together I hope they get his steel trap mind)

    Positive (if true).

  64. He’s never tried to change me and just wants me to be myself

    Largely positive, but with signs of egoism and strong dependency on circumstance.

  65. He’s lives a disciplined and consistent life and I find comfort in that

    +-

  66. He doesn’t mind that I feel the need to organize everything including his things

    Egoistical; likely with a strong negative component.

  67. He values friends and family. He stays in touch with them well and visits often.

    Impossible to judge without more detail.

  68. He does research and makes smart purchases

    Likely positive.

  69. He’s saving for his future and has been since he was a teen

    +-

  70. I trust him completely

    +-

  71. He’s fun to go shopping with (grocery store, mall, home improvement store, anywhere)

    See previous entries on fun.

  72. He doesn’t watch any sports (I would love him even if he did but I’m glad he doesn’t)

    Egoistical.


    Side-note:

    It can be tempting to argue a positive aspect : Sport has no higher value for the non-participants, and is sufficiently arbitrary that it may seem like a sign of maturity not to watch sport. However, it still has a considerable entertainment value and can also create positive states of mind, which makes it perfectly valid even in someone mature. In addition, I doubt that the author considered anything but her own convenience.


  73. He’s very real - what you see is what you get, he’s not putting on an act for anyone

    Positive.

  74. I can always count on him

    +-

  75. He’s cute

    Egoism; likely with a “good genes” component.

All in all, my impression of Keith from this list is not positive: He simply appears to be henpecked and/or a suck-up—certainly not someone loved for his inner qualities. His girlfriend, in turn, comes off as self-centered and shallow. (But I warn against viewing these impressions as indisputable truth, considering the limitations of the material, even though the diary as a whole goes in a similar direction—notwithstanding that the author refers to herself as a “Stepford” type in one or two entries.)