Do you know, when you meet someone (or soon after) if there might be a place for them in your life...on any level? Friendly, romantic, sexual, whatever?
I do know when meeting people if we can be friends, because ableist slurs are so common that all I have to do is wait for a complaint. If the ableist slur comes out (or another slur, but that's less common), I'm like "okay nope." If not, it takes a little longer, but I can generally feel when people are going to be safe for me (if they're good at consent and don't use slurs) within one conversation. I want to include everyone like that, so all those people get to be friends. Romantic/sexual potential I can usually tell at a hug, or some other close contact that has our energies overlapping (sitting squished on a small couch or something). BUT there are way more people who I have sexual/romantic potential with than there are people I would actually have sex with. Right now my sexual connections are limited by the complications they would bring to my life, and unless I'm in love I am not going to make that effort.
Do you often change your mind about that place after getting to know them on a less surface level?
Yes and no. I often ignore my intuition and say "but they want to be better!" and then end up disappointed, in friends. I have never been disappointed in someone I deliberately chose to be romantic/sexual with, partly because I hold off on making that judgement for a good while, and I ask a LOT of questions. Before I have sex with someone I feel romantic for I talk it the fuck out, discussing everything I can think of (STDs, triggers, preferences, sensitive places, emotional expectations...). I rarely have had sex with someone I don't feel romantic for, and at this point I am pretty sure I wouldn't do that again. I also don't really change my mind after a breakup -- I would be romantic/sexual again with almost all of my exes if the situations lined up.
Do you get to know people, believing there is some kind of compatibility there, and still using your filters to sort whether or not they are healthy people to have in your life?
For me there are three levels of connection: friendly acquaintance (can include people who would be bad for me to be close to, because I am not investing in them), friend (has to be a person that I could recommend as a friend to others), and intimate friend (this one is continually negotiated, I move people out of this category when they are damaging to me). http://belenen.livejournal.com/578201.html <- that contains my list of minimum requirements for a friend. I am very picky.
Do you feel obligated, once a connection has been made, to continue along whatever path it seems to be taking, even if your filters are telling you that isn't the right thing for you?
Sometimes. I am better at breaking up than most people are, but there have been times when I was depressed and terrified that things would never get better and I would be deserted, and I clung to relationships when I shouldn't have. http://belenen.livejournal.com/539289.html <- why I think the stigma of breakups needs to be changed.
How do you let people know what shape you see a connection taking? How do you let people know if the connection isn't working for you?
I like to ask people questions like "how are you feeling about us?" and "what do you want from our connection?" and make sure that we have consensual expectations ( http://belenen.livejournal.com/575456.html ). If it is not working for me and they seem invested, I will tell them what situations would need to be different for us to be close, and ask if they are okay with making changes in that direction. If not, I put in some distance. if they don't seem to be invested I just decrease my investment.
When looking at potential dating partners, how important is monetary income, if at all?
As long as they are not needing me to support them financially (as I can barely and sometimes not at all support myself), I don't care.
Rambles: It's really fun when they have enough money to pay for my dinner too, because that relieves some of my fears and helps with food insecurity, but it is not at all expected or something that I look for on purpose. My current lover makes more than I do and grocery shops such that ze can make me dinner like 3 times a week. That's when I get the super healthy awesome food. Before that, I never dated anyone who had extra like that. At times when I have more money than the people close to me, my policy is to share whatever will not damage me to share. With friends or lovers. I also will not date anyone who is not okay with free/cheap dates. That is some classist bullshit I don't want anything to do with. AND if I happen to have more money than the person I am dating, and I want to go to an event that I can afford but they can't, I will only invite them if I am willing to pay their way. I have stressed myself extremely before because I really wanted to be with the person and they invited me to something that cost money, and I'm not doing that again, and I'm not doing it to anyone else. I consider it unethical to put someone in the position of "pay or don't get my company." If you need all our dates to be free, I will work it so they are, if that means me paying or us staying in.
I want to add also that most of my partners have not been financially independent, and that is not a requirement for me. I would find it creepy for someone to make that a requirement, as to me it says "obedience to capitalism is necessary for me to date you." My ideal life would be to have all my financial needs met by someone else and for me to give whatever I could whenever I could. If that seems 'irresponsible' to someone else, we have fundamentally different concepts of the point of life.
Where is the line between seeking people to fill empty spaces and simply allowing people into them? How do you feel about seeking out people who fill particular roles in your life?
I seek people to connect with me in ways I don't currently have connection. If I meet someone along the way who doesn't fit in that space, I don't try to push them into it and I don't push them away, I just see if there is another way we connect. I don't really think of it like puzzle pieces but more like my being is a shared garden that other people gift plants to. Some people plant tomatoes and others plant peppers - if I am looking for peppers and I find tomatoes I'm still gonna be happy, but I am not going to stop looking. For me it's not an either-or. As for filling roles, it would depend on what you mean by 'roles' - if it's "I have a spouse and now I want a casual lover and someone to sleep with both me and my spouse" I find that problematic, but if it is something like "I have someone who is a great activity partner and now I want someone to connect with on fiction and someone to cuddle with and someone who wants to live together and raise puppies" and you're cool if those are the same person or a variety of people, that seems fine to me. I feel that it is best to seek people who you can mutually meet needs with, and then let them take up whatever space in your life feels right to both of you.