I’m a Questioner. The day I found that out, so many things clicked into place for me. Like many of my kind, I learned about something new (the Rubin Tendencies), and it took hold of me and I started thinking about it (and talking about it) constantly. I dragged my Upholder husband along with me. After a few years of this, we probably have our own parallel universe based around someone else’s original idea.
[If you follow Gretchen Rubin, my husband and I are the exact opposite of Gretchen and Jamie. I’m an upholdery Questioner like him and my husband is a questiony Upholder like her].
I’d like to share a little perspective on what romance is like from the perspective of a Questioner.
For starters, let me share that my first husband was undoubtedly a fellow Questioner. We drove each other crazy, divorced after three years, and we haven’t seen or spoken to each other in, what, fifteen years? I have plenty of Questioner friends, but I don’t think I could ever be romantically involved with one again. Writing someone off based on a random character trait is exactly the kind of thing one of us would do.
As a Questioner, I am constantly revising my personal philosophy, engaging with various books and viewpoints and trends, and then shaking them off once I’ve finished exploring them. Books are my first love, my own creative work is my second, and maybe I’ll fit you somewhere onto the list if you’ve caught my attention.
It’s not you I’m evaluating so much as your perspective, your thoughts and opinions, or your ability to hold your own in our discussions.
I’m not wrong here, annoying as it might be. It’s my life and it’s up to me who captivates me or sparks my interest. I can’t just make myself love or like someone.
This is, I think, part of what drives Obligers crazy about Questioners.
Obligers will give their undying loyalty and affection out quite freely. Then they are hurt when those incredibly special feelings are not automatically reciprocated. Why can’t you love me the way I love you?? It takes another Obliger to do that, though.
You can’t buy someone else’s love, affection, and loyalty just by choosing them. It’s not quid pro quo.
What’s funny about this whole thing is that Obligers often find Questioners irresistible. I’ve been the unrequited crush for several Obligers over the years. Then they want to know, why can’t I fall for them, after all the times they cooked for me/baked me vegan chocolate chip cookies/followed me around/did me favors/bought me presents?
Do you really want me to answer that?
I know an Obliger woman who is constantly annoyed that nobody at work will eat her lovingly prepared homemade baked goods. She keeps doing it even after being rejected for years on end. (NB: they’re not rejecting her, they just aren’t into eating snacks at work, and she refuses to accept that, which is neither loving nor generous).
We’re all amazing for our own reasons. Upholders are amazing for their reliability and principles. Obligers are amazing for their incredible devotion. Rebels are amazing for their iconoclasm and willingness to take a stand over anything at any time.
Questioners? We’re the ones you all come to for recommendations. What should we eat for dinner? Which movie should we see? What are we reading next? Where should we go for vacation? Bangs or no bangs?
I kind of feel like my family thinks I’m full of [it], with the sole exceptions of restaurant recommendations and recipes. I’ll take them somewhere, and they’re still eating there ten years later.
I get asked for recommendations for book clubs that I’m not even in.
Advice is the main way my friends relate to me, and it makes perfect sense from my perspective!
Just asked my husband what he thinks about all this. What makes Questioners attractive? The first thing he said was “ideation.”
“In romance?” Honestly this was the last thing I would have expected him to say.
“We tend to re-evaluate what we do constantly. Are the things we’re doing still working for us? If they’re not, change it!”
What he’s talking about is our annual review process and our weekly status meetings. What, do other couples not do this? Next you’re going to tell me that you don’t even have a formal grievance procedure.
Also, I take dictation on my tablet keyboard while my husband is talking to me. Quite often.
It’s probably not surprising that an engineer would find a Questioner woman attractive.
Upholders run well together. They approve of each other’s methods. I went on vacation once with my husband, mother-in-law, and stepdaughter, all of whom are early-rising Upholders. Their modular suitcases fit perfectly in a row in the back of the vehicle. They each woke up promptly at 5:59 AM every day. They cheerfully got to venues half an hour before they opened and sat obediently in the chilly parking lot. Guess who made all the travel plans, mapped out all the attractions, chose all the restaurants, accommodated everyone’s food preferences, and was extremely tired the whole trip?
Pop culture is tough on my kind. We’re the Steve Urkels and the Hermione Grangers and the Sheldon Coopers. Find an irritating character in a movie or TV show, and guess what? It’s probably someone with strong Questioner traits. I get it, I actually do; I’ve been made to via decades of social exclusion. It’s tougher on a female. We’re supposed to be Obligers and we’re sometimes allowed to be Upholders. We’re not supposed to make other people uncomfortable by analyzing the status quo.
If you can appreciate us, though, we make for pretty interesting friends and fun romantic partners. In my marriage, I’m the one who plans the vacations. I introduced my husband to Indian, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Ethiopian, Afghani, and Korean cuisine, and if I remember right I also taught him to eat with chopsticks. I got him into public speaking and kickboxing and taught him ballroom dancing. I’m the one who suggests and plans our backpacking trips, even though he’s much more experienced and has better wilderness survival skills. If he had married anyone else, he probably would have spent all those years watching TV with his perfectly adequate, perfectly ordinary wife, as they both lived in the same house, worked the same jobs, and ate the same meals, year after year. He never would have known what he was missing.
If you have the great good fortune to win the love of a Questioner, here’s what you do. Whenever we annoy you, put your rebuttal in the form of a question. Are you sure you’re right? What if everyone thought that way? Cite your sources, and will you forward them to me? Make sure we spend plenty of time with our Questioner friends, send us out on fact-finding missions, and keep us well stocked with blank journals (electronic or otherwise). It’s a heavy burden to be the sole sounding board of a busy Questioner, so make sure you spread that around. In return we’ll keep your life interesting, if only you can keep up with us.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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